The Bush at Ovington from 1920

The Bush Inn, Ovington, 1920 style

The Bush Inn, Ovington, 1920 style

Once upon a time there was a pub in Ovington, known as the Bush Inn. Actually the Bush Inn is still there, but it looks a little different now to the picture above. This old picture is believed to have been taken in the early 1920s, when Charles Coward and his wife Laura Emmeline ran the pub. Charles is pictured here with the white jug on the plate, in the middle of the row of people. Second from the right is George Smith, his son-in-law, and second from the left is Fred Biggs. The window that is open on the ground floor behind them was Laura’s parlour window, and very few drinkers were allowed through to sit in there. Nowadays the pub has been extended to the right and the bar continues through Laura’s parlour, past her fire, into a new room. D203 The Bush ovington 1920s

Some of the same group of drinkers appear in the second picture, now positioned near the door to the pub. This does not seem to be the door in the side lane, because the brickwork lacks the chimney, and the side of the building has some flint sections in the walls, so maybe the pictures are close to the pub doorway that opens into the garden. In the picture here Fred Biggs is on the left, and Charlie Coward is still dispensing from the tray.

The next two pictures show the side lane next to the Bush, used as a starting point for the local Hunt and their dogs. The side door to the pub seems to be in a different position to the current doorway, and has a porch with the advert for Bell tobacco.

D207 Bush

D206Charles Coward died in 1930, and his daughter Kathy, married to George Smith, and her mother Laura Emmeline managed the pub from then onwards. George worked on a farm in Bishop’s Sutton, primarily on the steam powered equipment used there. They had children Charlie, pictured here in the Bush garden with his grandmother Laura Emmeline, who lived with them at the pub probably until 1949, and also a daughter called Doreen.


The final picture is taken at the Bush on Doreen’s wedding day in 1945, with George and Kathy to the right of the bride, and Laura next to Kathy: sitting on the extreme right is George Smith’s mother. Doreen married Ted Saint from Upham, whose mother ran the village shop in Upham, and is sitting to his right. Standing second from the right on the bride’s side is Una, who provided the photos and was another grand-daughter of Laura Coward: Una Coward lived in West Meon, but regularly cycled to the Bush to see the family.


One of the biggest problems for Charles Coward was that a fair proportion of his customers and evening trade was from Itchen Stoke. There were many nights when the men from Itchen Stoke arrived home very wet and presumably having sobered up quickly, after a ducking in the river, trying to negotiate their way along the path to Itchen Stoke in the dark.

With thanks to Una Yeates of Alresford (nee Coward) for the pictures and background information

The Bush, as it was in September 2012

The Bush, as it was in September 2012

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