STRUCTURAL EVOLUTION OF THE BUILDING.
The building began life as a small private dwelling. Throughout its history, successive owners have added to or altered parts of the property, but substantial elements from every phase of this evolution still remain within the present structure. In our book we outlined the building's development, without going into too much detail, but here we've listed pretty well everything we discovered about its evolution. We think its fair to say that, unless you have a direct interest in the Fountain Inn, you're going to find this section a little dull.
SUB-BASEMENT (mid-1600s cottage)
The back wall of our sub-basement appears to be extremely old, and incorporates three roughly built, and stoned-up, windows; demonstrating that it was once an outside wall. We can be certain that this part of our property pre-dates the 1767 cottage as the south wall of that was built directly on top of the sub-basement’s back wall. It is therefore assumed that the sub-basement was one of eight cottages built on Whitemead Park in the mid-1600s, although we’re unable to demonstrate this conclusively.
When we arrived, external access to this part of the building was via a six-foot wide gully, running along the full length of the lower floor. The ground was retained by a stone wall, but this was in poor condition and dangerous. The trench was filled in, except for the short section now used for access. The window sills are well below ground level, so the trench would have been necessary for light, but we can not explain why the mid-1600s cottage was built so low down. Obviously we've considered the possibility that the surrounding land may have been raised up, and a lot could have happened in 400 years, but the sub-basement floor is actually below river level when it's in flood, so this explanation does seem very unlikely.
Flooding in the sub-basement seems to have been an historic and enduring problem. A 1901 newspaper article refers to flooding in rented accommodation at the Fountain Inn. And, brickwork under the window and door lintels shows that the floor, and possibly ceiling levels, have been raised by about 20cm at some point; presumably in an unsuccessful attempt to negate the problem of flooding. This may also explain why the doorway connecting our flat kitchen and living room does not line up at floor level.
Roy Turley was born in 1932 and lived in part of the cottage as a young boy. We showed him around our flat in 1993 but it’s been altered a lot since he lived here and sadly he could not remember it in any great detail. He confirmed that the structure was divided into two cottages at that time, but wasn’t certain if the cottages spanned all three floors. He also said that the lower floor was prone to flooding. Roy’s family left the cottage in around 1937. The 1939 National Register shows an Elodie A Penfold living in the ‘Fountain Cottages’.
WEST WING, GROUND FLOOR AND CELLAR
The southernmost wall of the 1767 cottage was built on top of an older wall, believed to be that of one of the cottages built on Whitemead Park in the mid-1600s. The 1767 cottage survives today as the upper bar area and the floor below (originally the ground floor). It incorporates a stone spiral staircase and was divided into two rooms, one with a large open-hearth fireplace and the other with a smaller one.
Photo: Some surviving original features of the 1767 cottage, now part of our own flat.
The fireplace used to incorporate a bread oven, which extended under the steps, but this was filled in because of fears about the heavy load it is supporting. When we arrived there as also a large stone arch in front of the opening on the left, but this was removed in 1991 as it was unstable – which may explain why the large beam, just forward of the fireplace, had been added at a later date to support the floor above.
The beam is clearly not original to the building and is supported at one end by a railway sleeper (now hidden by panelling); which may indicate that it does not predate the railway’s arrival in Parkend, in 1868. The middle beam in our living room is not original either and has been changed several times. When we arrived it was a large beam, also supported at either end by railway sleepers (so presumably installed at the same time as the one next to the fireplace). This was replaced by a block wall in 1991. Half of the wall was removed and replaced by a ‘modern’ wooden beam when we extended our living room in 1999 and then replaced by a more attractive beam in 2019. The third beam (furthest from the fireplace) appears to be original, as it supports joist ends.
Two matching doorways in our living room (one of which is now plastered over) are not fully understood. Both doorways were bricked up when we arrived. The one which is now concealed appeared to have be an original feature of the 1767 cottage, but the one which is still in use has evidence of having being cut through at a later date. They are oddly wide, but their positioning and symmetry indicate that they are related to the two-storey addition to the sub-basement, discussed later.
At the top of our stone spiral staircase there was a small window, which would have shed light on the steps. Presumably, it was stoned up when the building was extended in the late-1840s, but its position can still be identified.
1952 sales documents for the pub indicate that our living room and office were in use as a wine and beer cellar at that time. This makes sense as the bar used to be positioned above our living room until 1986.
Behind the dry-lining in the office and corridor there are 3 stoned-up openings. Unfortunately they were never properly photographed, but I recall that the stonework in at least two indicated that they had been used as both doorways and windows at different times. Only the one furthest from the spiral stairs is recessed – which may indicate it to be the original doorway, but it’s impossible to say. They would, today, lead out underground, as the ground level at the front was raised when the cottage was greatly extended and altered by James Kear in the late-1840s.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN SECTIONS
James Kear initially ran the Fountain Inn as part of his own house, which was a stipulation of the 1830 Beerhouse Act, but in the late-1840s he greatly extended the property. The development included, what must have been, a complex operation to raise the ground level at the front up a complete storey, to match the height of the road and tramway that ran along the front of the building.
When we knocked through the fire escape, near room 2, we positioned it where we thought there would be a joint in the stonework (between the central and eastern sections of the building). There was no joint and so it is therefore assumed that, despite being very different in style, both sections were built at the same time.
Physical indicators, such as differences in floor and ceiling levels, show that the new structure created by James Kear existed as three terraced properties, with no internal connections; a coach house with a club room above; a pub with letting bedrooms above; and the original 1767 cottage, which was now effectively a bungalow from the front. For clarity, each section of James' new structure is discussed separately here.
The east wing of James Kear’s extension comprised 2 stone-arched vaults - accessed from the rear of the building, a coach-house above them - accessed from the front, and a large club room above that - which was accessed via a staircase near to where the disabled toilet is now situated.
The two stone-arched vaults are robustly built and were probably used for stabling horses. Between the wars, and possibly earlier, lighting in the pub was generated using acetylene gas and the acetylene generator was located in the end vault. Les Wilkins told me his sister worked at the Fountain as a cook/domestic servant and one of her duties was to periodically empty the residue from the generator and throw it on the riverbank at the back of the pub. He also told me that there was a gas light on the outside of the bay window, but it was knocked off by a traction engine. The vaulted rooms are now in use as a storeroom and workshop. One reason for the vaults' robust construction was to provide a solid floor for the coach house, which was built directly above, and accessed from the front.
As part of an expansion to farming operations, this coach-house was converted to become a meat store and butcher’s shop by George Gunter in about 1913. Originally it was run by three of his and Margaret’s sons. Two of the brothers left in the early-1930s, but Mary Thurston, George and Margaret’s granddaughter, told me her father, Frank, continued to run the shop, still trading as Gunter Bros. He was assisted by Albert Batten, who lived in Parkend. After Frank's father, George, died in 1932, Frank also took on the family farm at Badhams Field in Yorkley. He continued to run the shop until Albert retired in the early-1960s, when he gave it up to concentrate on the farm at Yorkley.
In November, 1970, the shop and meat store were converted to a bakery, called Parkend Mini Bakery. It was run by Laurie and Iris Cunniffe. Their children, Sherry and Mori, also helped out there at various times.
The bakery closed in September 1985. Between 1986 and 1990 it operated as a pottery and shop, run by Mary Rose Young.
Half the shop (nearest the inn) was converted to become a bedroom (bedroom 8) in 1990 and the large shop window was replaced at this time. The pane was extremely thick, and heavy, and it was bought by a customer who owned a gun shop at ???. Interestingly, the glass was thicker at the bottom than it was at the top and it is thought that this was because, although obviously very solid, it had continued to flow over the years. Above the shop window there had been two cast iron grills, obscured by what had once been the shop sign. One was reused as a shelf, above the fireplace in our flat.
The remaining half of the shop became a charity craft shop, run by the Guild of Disabled Homeworkers, from 1990 to 1991. In 1991 it became a craft and garden shop, run by Mrs A Cameron until 1992. It was a ‘transport bookshop’, run by Simon Lewis, from 1992 to 1994, and was then used as a storeroom. In 1997 it was converted to another bedroom (bedroom 9). Both halves of the shop remain in use as bedrooms, although the arched windows and doors of these rooms provide a visual reminder of their former roll.
The top floor of the east wing was originally constructed as a large club room. Club rooms were a common feature of public houses from the mid-1800s until the 1920s. Before the advent of memorial halls they were used for a wide variety of public meetings and functions and, judging by the large number of newspaper articles which mention it, ours seems to have been in very regular use. Some meetings of the Liberal Party are reported as having so many people attending that they spilled out onto the street in front of the pub. The relationship between the pub and the Liberal Party does not always seem to have been amicable, however.
In 1881 the Fountain Inn’s landlord, Richard Scott, sued Colonel Robert Kingscote, the Liberal Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire West, for £18 5s 9d. The amount was to cover arrears for use of the Fountain Inn’s club room, which Colonel Kingscote had used during the last general election. The case was heard in court and Richard Scott agreed to a settlement of £15.
At some point internal access was made by knocking through the wall by, what is now, bedroom 1. It is assumed that this was probably done by Redbrook brewery when they purchased, and redeveloped, the pub in 1872.
The club room fell out of use in the 1920s and was used for storage. Part of it was converted to a large bathroom in 1952, and the walls of this were uncovered during renovations in 2015.
In 1990, the whole area was converted to become three bedrooms. (rooms 2, 3 and 4). Room 2 was uncomfortably small, and in around 1997, part of it was used to increase the size of room 3. The remainder was converted to a cupboard (still called room 2).
The central section of James Kear's redeveloped structure was a new and more spacious area for the pub to operate from. The bottom floor, accessed from the rear of the property, comprised a cellar and tap room. The middle floor (ground floor from the front) incorporated a new bar area and bay window, and the top floor was made up of letting bedrooms.
Part of the cellar was occupied by a kitchen and scullery. When we first arrived there was a large cast iron cooking range located in the corner of, what is now, the cold store. It was not photographed! Les Wilkins told me his sister was a cook here between the wars and used it regularly. The doorway, which now connects the cellar to the outside, was a window when we arrived, with a Belfast sink under it. There was also pipework leading outside, which was presumably connected to a hand-pump, as there was a small vaulted well just outside too. This was filled in when the 1995 extension was built. Some of the tiles which surrounded the sink are still visible, and the hole where the pipe came in can be seen in one of the flagstones.
Before we built the 1995 extension, barrels were brought into the cellar through an arched doorway, where the post-mix equipment is now situated. The wooden door from the doorway is displayed in the dining room.
Behind the dry-lining in the dry store there is a closed up opening, possibly a coal-shoot. It’s below ground level, but whatever it was, it would have conflicted with the front door that exists today and so presumably it was blocked off when Redbrook Brewery reconfigured the frontage of the west wing in 1872.
Pubs in the 1800s, even relatively small ones, were divided into rooms which were structured to satisfy customers’ preferences; something primarily determined by their class. The tap room was an area frequented by the lower classes, particularly those still in work clothes. The entrance to James Kear's tap room was at the back of the pub, and is now our back door. The room itself was fairly small, but contained a large fireplace and flagstone floor. It would have been simply furnished, with beer drawn directly from barrels racked behind a counter, and sold at a cheaper price than elsewhere in the pub. 1952 sales particulars show that the tap room was out of use by that time, and was now a private lounge with a ‘china store’; probably originally a pantry, as it was formed by a thick stone wall built on top of the flagstones.
The wall was removed by us in 1990, but its former position can still be determined from marks on our freezer room floor. Oddly, it’s at a slight angle to the other wall.
The floor above (ground floor from the front) housed other public drinking areas. We don't know where the bar counter was situated in James Kear's time, but the public bar was essentially the area which includes the bay window. Marks seen during renovations show that there was a corridor running along the wall where the public bar is now situated, but this may date to a later, 1872, development.
When we were refurbishing the lower bar area we uncovered some graffiti, seemingly written by a decorator named ‘H. Thomas’; first in 1955 and then again on a return visit, in 1963. Sadly the wall had to be plasterboarded to conform with fire regulations and the graffiti is now gone.
The bar was moved to its present position in 1986 and was refurbished by us in 1991. The plaster behind the bar was mostly removed and panelling added (including a large panelled canopy, which was removed and replaced by a row of lights during the second lockdown in 2020). The window behind the current bar appears to be original, and presumably shed light into the corridor. The arrangement is described in an 1859 newspaper article, which states ”In the passage near the bar there is a flight of nine steps leading down into the tap-room” It had been assumed that the current staircase is original to the late-1840s, but it is actually 12 steps. It may have been replaced then, or it could be a case of inaccurate reporting.
The bay window and roof were replaced in 2002.
What is now our carvery room, was once the pub's smoking room. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to suggest that smoking rooms in pubs, during the 1800s, were reserved for people to smoke in. In a time before smoking was considered to be a social issue, the term was borrowed from the smoking rooms of stately houses; which were well rooms for gentlemen to relax in. Our smoking room would have been where the local gentry socialised, away from the working classes. When we arrived, there was a fireplace where the door to the lobby, outside room 8, is now. In the 1800s, the room would have been furnished with comfortable chairs and potted plants. There was no bar in this room and drinks would have been brought to the customer by a waiter. The club room, in the east wing, fell out of use in the 1920s and it seems that our carvery room was principally used for meetings and private functions after that time. The carvery and double doors were installed by us in 2012.
In the corner of, what is now, the carvery room, there was a panelled ‘box’ which allowed space for the stairhead below it. The box was removed in 2012 and the stairhead was incorporated into the carvery. The box had been built on top of linoleum, used as flooring at the time of its construction. This preserved a strip of it, and from this it was possible to recreate the whole pattern.
Linoleum wasn’t produced until the 1870s, so we know the box was not part of the original building. Possibly it replaced an existing feature, however, as we know stairs existed in that position during James Kear’s time.
The main staircase of the pub appears to be an original feature of James Kear's development. Alterations to the steps show that, when it was built, it only turned left at the top and then ‘spiralled’ over itself; giving access to three bedrooms constructed in the central section - as shown in this photograph from 1986.
It was altered when a corridor was built along the back wall in 1872, allowing customers to also turn left and right. The corridor to the right was built to permit access to bedrooms built as part of the 1872 redevelopment - which is discussed later.
The corridor constructed to the left, outside room 1, provided internal access to the club room in the eastern section of the building. We don't know for sure, but it is assumed that this too was probably constructed in 1872.
Above the false ceiling, where the staircase turns right, there are the remains of a lath and plaster wall – but its position clashes with the window at the top of the stairs. The window reveals are rendered on the outside, possibly to hide a rough edge, and so it is assumed that this window was also cut through as part of the 1872 development. When we arrived the window was full height, but the bottom half was bricked up to allow the necessary height for the 1995 extension.
James Kear's redevelopment raised the ground level at the front of the property up a complete storey. Today, the height of the west wing roof matches that of the central section, but it's clear that James Kear’s alterations did not include raising the height of his 1767 cottage, and that it effectively became a bungalow from the front.
The central section of James Kear’s redeveloped structure is built off the existing east wall of his 1767 cottage, however, meaning that its roof must have been, at least partially, removed and then replaced. Marks on the stonework, behind the plaster in room 6 bathroom, show a ridge line where it butted up to the new extension.
Part of this wall would have been the 1767 cottage's gable end, but it would appear that this was removed at gutter-level and rebuilt as there is now also a fireplace on the other side of it (behind the plaster in room 5). A fireplace behind the plaster in room 6 bathroom is a later addition and discussed later.
Large corner stones, used for the late-1840s extension’s west wall, are visible from the rear of the pub at high level (partially obscured by the roof of the dining room). This confirms the wall next to it is a later addition.
An 1854 map of Parkend shows buildings (shaded in red) that had been constructed after the Driver Bros 1787 survey. James Kear’s extension is shown shaded in red, but not his cottage - the original pub, showing that this part of the building was not significantly altered during James Kear’s late-1840s redevelopment. Interestingly, the eastern wing is coloured both red and grey and we’re not sure how to interpret this.
WEST WING, TOP FLOOR
(added as part of an 1872 refurbishment)
At some point substantial alterations were made to the whole property and it is assumed that these were carried out by Redbrook Brewery when they bought the pub in 1872.
The upper storey of the 1767 cottage (its ground floor from the front) was partially removed and then replaced with two new storeys, raising the ridgeline of the roof to match that of the central section of the building. Internally, considerable work was also carried out to connect all three sections of the structure.
The windows in the upper bar area don’t align with stoned-up ones, still present in the wall beneath them. This indicates that the current ground floor frontage of the west wing is not original to the 1767 cottage. Wear patterns in the cornerstones near the main entrance don’t line up with the current structure, also confirming that a different wall had previously existed there when the late-1840’s extension was built.
Presumably then, the frontage was removed and replaced when the additional storey was added during the 1872 redevelopment, although it is clear that not all of the 1767 cottage’s upper storey was removed;
The discovery of a 1772 coin under the upper bar floor shows that this floor and all the walls supporting it are original to the 1767 building. The two steps up to the pub kitchen also conceal a curved wall, which is associated with the stone spiral staircase below. The curve was discernible right up to ceiling height, meaning that the south wall of the 1767 cottage’s upper storey was also left undisturbed.
Work carried out to connect the three terraced properties upstairs necessitated the construction of a corridor running along the back wall. The opening through the wall outside room 6 is not original and would have been cut through in order to connect the 1872 development to the existing late-1840’s structure.
A peculiar alcove was removed from between rooms 6 and 7. Its origins were not really considered at the time, but we thought it must have been the remains of an old staircase. This now seems unlikely as no other evidence has been found and, as that floor was constructed at the same time as the corridor what was the point in having two staircases?
A fireplace (now behind the plaster in room 6 bathroom) was, quite crudely, cut into the back of the late-1840’s chimney breast as part of the 1872 development. Another fireplace was also built into the opposite wall (now room 7), indicating that the new top floor was divided into two rooms.
Connecting the 1767 cottage and the late-1840s extension at ground floor level would have been a considerable task. We know that the western end of James Kear’s late-1840s extension built off the existing east wall of his cottage, but the large opening in this wall, at bar level, was apparently not cut through until the 1972 Redbook Brewery redevelopment. The opening is created in 3 sections using two columns (at the end of the present-day bar and in the porch) to form a bridge structure. To make things more complex, part of the wall also incorporates a horizontal cast-iron flue, connecting a fireplace that was in the bay window with the main chimney, and presumably installed when the opening was constructed. The relationship between the beams and this flue is not fully understood.
Creating this opening after the late-1840s extension had already been built would have been such a complex and risky operation that it’s hard to accept it wasn’t done while the late-1840’s extension was being constructed, but physical evidence does indicate that it was done as part of the 1872 Redbrook Brewery redevelopment;
The pillar at the end of the bar (now panelled) is made of two railway sleepers bolted together; perhaps an indication that it doesn’t predate the railway’s arrival in Parkend (1868).
The opening cut through the chimney breast of our living room’s fireplace (rendering it unusable). Clay pipes, hidden in a pit there when the fireplace was decommissioned, have been dated to between 1840 and 1870.
If the opening had been created by James Kear as part of his late-1840s extension, it seems very unlikely that he would have built the floor and ceilings on different levels.
On the ceiling in the barrel cellar, near the internal entrance to our flat, there is an iron bracket. This is typical of those used to support stone hearths on the floor above and indicates that a fireplace existed there as part of the late-1840s development, and was then subsequently removed when the opening was cut through at a later date.
Knocking through this wall opened up the ground floor, considerably extending the bar area. Marks on the floor show that the bar counter was moved to this ‘new area’ of the building. The righthand end of the bar had a 45 degree corner. Unfortunately half the floor had already been replaced by the time we arrive, so we don’t know how the other end looked. Marks on the ceiling, uncovered during renovations, show that the current back-bar was once a corridor, and it is assumed that the two were connected. There are holes, still present in the floorboards, where the beer pipes came up from the cellar below and ‘bracket marks’ on the floor also show it had a foot-rail around the base. As the bar overlaps the current kitchen and dining room doors, we can assume that these were private areas.
The stone fireplace in the bar originally had a larger opening, which may date to the 1767 cottage. The opening was reduced to a ‘domestic’ size when the current surround was added in 1952. It was enlarged again by us (but not to its original size) in 1994.
Connecting the different sections of the building also occurred in two walls in the cellar. Although we can be certain when this took place, logically all the connections were made at the same time by Redbrook Brewery. Exposed ‘rough’ stonework (now concealed) at the bottom of the slope in our flat demonstrates that it was also cut through post-construction and the slope was added to connect the different floor levels.
MIDDLE & TOP FLOOR, ABOVE SUB-BASEMENT
(two storey addition, of uncertain age)
Contrasting building styles, visible from the outside, show that the sub-basement predates the two floors above it, but we’ve never fully got to the bottom of the origins of this addition. The first floor (middle floor) now forms part of our flat and the top floor is occupied by the pub’s dining room and part of its kitchen.
The walls of this two-storey addition to the mid-1600s cottage butt up to James Kear’s late-1840s extension (visible in the public toilets loft) and the small window which existed in our own kitchen used the edge of the late-1840s as one of its reveals; so we can be certain that it was constructed after that date. The updated Driver Brother’s map, published in 1854, shows the sub-basement footprint in red; indicating that something new was built there between 1787 and 1854. This leaves quite a narrow period for its construction, ranging from sometime after James Kear’s late-1840s extension and 1854. Somewhat frustratingly, however, this appears to be contradicted by the position of the rear window in room 7, built in 1872. It looks out unnaturally onto the roof of the two-storey addition, suggesting that the 1872 extension came before the two storeys were added to the sub-basement.
An 1867 agreement for the pub (kept with the deeds) mentions 2 cottages. It doesn’t say where they are, but it seems likely that the reference relates to this part of the building, as no other cottages are known to have existed as part of the pub. This adds weight to the earlier construction date, before Redbrook Brewery's arrival in 1872.
Physical evidence, present when we arrived, showed that all three floors were divided vertically to make two separate three-storey cottages. We can’t be certain, but it seems likely that this was done at the same time that the two-storey addition was built on top of the mid-1600s cottage. The dividing walls in the lower two storeys were built of brick, while the top storey dividing wall (removed in 1995 when we extended the dining room) was constructed from lath and plaster.
There was only one staircase surviving when we arrived, in the left sub-basement room, but there were marks on both sides of the central dividing walls, on both the lower and middle floors, showing that mirrored staircases once existed to connect all three different levels, in both cottages. These marks can still be seen on the dividing wall in the sub-basement. The doorways, which now connect the two halves of the structure in the lower two floors, had been crudely knocked through and were clearly not original.
By 1950 doorways to connect the two sides of the structure had been knocked through and the top two staircases had been removed. The top floor rooms were incorporated into the pub and the lower two floors were let as offices. The 1952 sales particulars state that ‘two rooms’ were let as offices; one to the South Western Wholesale Meat Supply Association and the other to West Dean Butchers’ Association. Given the problems with flooding, this would have been the two rooms on the middle floor, but staff would still have needed to access the building through the door on the lowest floor (now the sub-basement door). When we arrived there was a cardboard sign on the wall of, what is now, our front hallway saying ‘OFFICES’.
Ron Meek arrived as publican in 1958. He used the rooms on the top floor as his kitchen (which now forms part of the pub’s kitchen) and living-room (now the dining room). He also said the lower two floors were unused by that time and they were to remain so until we arrived in 1990.
The only remaining staircase, which connected the lower and middle floors, was removed in 1991. New external steps were built to access the middle floor, now part of our flat, and a window was made into a doorway. The lower floor still regularly floods and is used as a materials store.
When we arrived there was a tiled cast iron fireplace, dating to around 1875, in our flat kitchen, where the washing machine is now. This was removed and an older, stone-arched hearth was found behind it. Sadly, this too was later removed by us, to create space for a washing machine. In hindsight it was wrong to have removed this original feature.
When we were refurbishing the other room on the middle floor, to use as our bedroom, I was pulling down the original lath and plaster ceiling down and through the dust I saw a large rubber sausage fall out of the ceiling space. It dropped onto the floor and bounced. When the dust had settle I examined it and it was clearly a condom, filled with roughly 2 pints of liquid and tied in a knot. It survived the fall intact and seemed quite robust, so much so that I began to question its identity. I showed my mother, who confirmed it was indeed a ‘contraceptive sheath’, as she called it, and she told me that they were very thick in the forties and fifties (I didn’t ask her how she knew). Gingerly I carried it into the woods and poked it with a stick to burst it. The liquid appeared clear, but I didn’t get too close and can’t be sure, but I have often wondered about how it came to be there and who had hidden it.
(addition of a bakehouse, uncertain age)
This is clearly an extension onto the main building, but we know very little about the history of this part of the building. It appears on an 1878 map, so we know it was built sometime prior to that.
Internally the extension has an original dividing wall separating it into two unequally sized rooms. The smaller, right-hand, room was obviously a bakehouse. The remains of two ovens and a chimney were present when we arrived, but they were very unstable and had to be largely rebuilt. There was also a window, the outline of which can still be made out, and a doorway. When we arrived it had a split-door and the name ‘Dobbin’ could be just about made out on the lower door - so, clearly, it had been repurposed as a stable at some point.
For a while we used the room as an outside bar, serving the beer garden. In early-1992 we bricked up the doorway and window, raised the floor level, and knocked a new doorway through from our flat. It was used as a bathroom until a new one was built in the 1995 extension, and after that it became a nursery.
We don’t know anything about the history of the larger room before 1986, when the Wilkinsons had the toilets moved down into it. It had two doorways, one internal and one external. The external doorway has marks in the render around it, indicating it was originally much wider. The internal doorway (now inside our living room cupboard) is difficult to explain as there’s a fairly big height difference, with the public toilets being lower than our living room. The 1952 sales particulars indicate that our living room and office were in use as a wine and beer cellar at that time, and refer to a “loading ramp”, which probably relates to this. I spoke with an old chap once who told me he’d been a drayman in the 50’s and 60’s. He said they brought the barrels down a slope at the end of the building (where the garden steps are now) and into the cellar through the doorway (which has since been reduced in size). The chap also told me that, in the summer, wooden barrels were often left in the brook at the back to stop them shrinking. There must have been some method used to stop them floating off?
(1995 extension to the pub’s kitchen and our flat)
The original plans we had drawn up were for a single storey extension to our flat, but we later had them redrawn as a two-storey extension; also increasing the size of the pub’s kitchen, above. It was built by Derek ‘Barney’ Thomas, a builder from Pillowell.