The Inns of Alresford

– from an information sheet on display in the Alresford Museum exhibition of brewing and bottles used in Alresford, at the Broad Street Library, March 2013.  

Alresford may appear to be well endowed with its seven public houses, but few realise that there have been many more through the centuries, and that even those we see today have been renamed, or moved.

Inns at the edge of town

The Globe was the first Inn to be reached by travellers on the old London Road from Bighton, and was the “early warning” system for the town before newspapers. The Cricketers (originally the White Horse) was first sited at the junction of Sun Lane and Bramdean Lane, in an isolated spot [next to the Workhouse], which made it a popular venue for cock-fighting. In 1611, the Running Horse was the Dog and Star, and the hideous sport of bull-baiting took place quite regularly.

The Swan Hotel

From the middle of the 18th century, the most important Inn was the Swan, which
catered for the Bailiffs and Burgesses with turtle and venison dinners! The Justices held fortnightly Sessions on the premises. At a time when it cost five shillings to travel to London, the daily stage from Southampton stopped for passengers to take breakfast whilst the horses were changed in the yard behind the Inn.

The Bell Hotel

Opposite was the Market Inn [now the Bell], recognised as the market centre; a room
for settling transactions, and a yard in which important beasts could be auctioned.
In the early 19th century, as well as retailing wines and spirits, the inn was licensed
as a place of worship for Non-Conformists!

The Horse and Groom

As long ago as 1550, there was an inn in Broad Street which specialised in good liquor, and good conversation mainly on horsey matters, the Horse and Jockey. In the 19th Century there were racing stables on both Abbotstone and Tichborne Down, as well as at Bishops Sutton, where was trained the Grand National winner of 1893. The name was changed to Horse and Groom by landlord Charles Butler when he started a business in hiring out a ‘fly’.

The Peaceful Home

The Peaceful Home [on the north side of East Street next to the alleyway to the George Yard] was originally the Bricklayer’s Arms, and the first to become a Free House, and a popular place with shepherds and drovers attending the annual sheep fair.

The building that was once The Peaceful Home

The building that was once The Peaceful Home

Fifteen other inns are lost!

A traveller crossing the Bishop’s weir into Alresford might have stopped at the Stag
[opposite the Globe] in the house recently vacated by Evans Butchers. At the bottom of Broad Street (now number 42) was Le Hart, possibly the oldest inn in the town. The George (now George Yard, and the Library and shops) was built as The Angel, owned by Winchester College, in 1415, but before the sign could be erected, its name was changed in celebration of the “assistance” given by our patron saint to Henry V and his men at the battle of Agincourt. Where now stands the Old Post House was the Anchor, burnt down in the fire of 1689.

West and East Street Inns

There was a second Globe on the site of the old Co-op building, now replaced by two
new shopfronts. The Volunteer Arms became the Clipper stationary shop [and is now the Moda Rosa dress shop]. The Lindens in East Street was once the Golden Lyon, and on the site of the Phair Hall Community Centre was the Fox. Opposite was the New Inn, the whole of the building of which the Wessex Pharmacy now forms a part.

The Old Sun Inn on East Street was converted into a private house by John Arlott in 1961, and the Dean Arms, built to quench the thirst of workers at the Gasworks opposite, closed shortly after the gasometer was taken down. Finally, on the site of Watercress Travel [now the Naked Grape] was the Queen’s Tap, which housed an early form of bioscope which offered instead of electronic one-arm bandits, the simpler delights of a peepshow (and so was known locally as the New Found Out].

The Alresford Museum is a charity, managed locally by the New Alresford Town Trust,
http://www.towntrust.org.uk. For further pictures please consult http://www.alresfordheritage.co.uk,
and further accounts of the history of the Inns can be found in Alresford Displayed
issues on the Alresford Historical and Literary Society website,
http://www.alresfordhistandlit.co.uk

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