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Modern The Waldegrave Arms is part of the centre of the village in many ways. The Ploughboy Inn at Green Ore is technically within the parish boundary as is the Miners Arms near Priddy.  The Miners Arms are now a private house as is the Bell Inn. It is possible that there were several other pubs within the parish boundary or the pubs changed names several times. Business
Old Waldegrave Arms

Old Waldegrave Arms

What is now the Waldegrave Arms used to be called the Rising Sun and may have had several other names in the past. The ‘old’ Waldegrave Arms was demolished in the 1930s and now only lives in the memories of the most ‘senior’ of the senior citizens. It would now take a police operation to close the road to get a picture like this. Some of the children may have been members of Walter Green’s family.

The Rising Sun (the ‘new’ Waldagrave Arms) and the shop can just be seen on the right of the picture. The unhitched cart on the right shows a typical form of transport and the pile in front of the cart shows one form of pollution that was the result.  A picture of Seward Heal driving the ‘Village Fly’ also shows th rear of the ‘old’ Waldegrave Arms. Both ‘Waldegrave Arms’ were used by the Ancient Order of Foresters as their meeting place.A copy of the picture provided by Bob Powell can be seen in the Waldegrave Arms and can be purchased from Barrie Pictures.
MedievalThere had probably been some form of ‘pub’ in Chewton Mendip for as long as there was human habitation but the records only go back to the Medieval era. The water supply for many was already tainted by pollution so brewing ale and cider was a skill shared by everyone and probably used by some people as a way of earning a living. Widows may have run ‘public’ houses to earn money in a way that did not require heavy manual labour or compromising their virtue. Monasteries and parish priests may have brewed ‘church ales’ to supplement their income. Hospitality, which included caring for the sick and poor, was  part of the role of the medieval clergy and it was not unknown for some parish priest to run ‘ale houses’ as happened in Emborough.
StuartThe first specific references to pubs are from the 17th century. The source of these records is the Somerset Archive Online catalogue. The first record dated 1623 (RefNoQ/SR/43/203) describes a petition of the inhabitants of Chuton [Chewton Mendip?], stating that Walter Collier refuses to give up his tippling license and previously ordered. Many people would brew their own ale and cider because water was not fit to drink in many places but that would have been for private consumption. The expression ‘Public House’ comes from an agreement or authorisation to serve intoxicating drink from a house that was open to the public. One theory is that this was one way widows could make a living after their husbands had died in medieval times. About the only medieval building still standing in the village is the church so these earlier ‘pubs’ have left no physical traces.The next record supports the enterprising widow theory but it also raises the prospect of stronger brews being concocted.Record number Q/SR/127/17 dated 11 Oct 1675 is evidences given by George Newsham, John Burges, John Cole, John Atwood, and George Hippisly, all of Chewton [Chewton Mendip?], against Alice Savidge of Chewton [Chewton Mendip?] for selling strong waters out of her house. The JP was  John Buckland.
GeorgianThe Somerset archives provide some records about pubs in the Georgian era. Evidence given by Richard Dowling of Chewton dated 6 Jan 1734 and 6 Jan 1735 in a case concerning the theft of two sheep also refers also to the Falcon Inn at Chewton Mendip. The Vestry committee records from the 18th century make several references to pubs in various ways. Mrs De Tracey Reade has identified references to a pub called the Unicorn and Royal Oak in Chewton Mendip.  Subsequent research refutes the theory that Chewton House was originally a coaching. The 1740 map shows the Unicorn was on the site of the original Waldegrave Arms .   Edmund Rack’s survey c1781 makes references to two pubs in the village. One was the Unicorn and the other was the New Inn and he commented that the Unicorn was the better place.

Old Waldegrave Arms Map

Courtesy of Earl Waldegrave

The extract of the 1794 map on the left shows the site occupied by the ‘old’ Waldegrave Arms which is  marked with the yellow dot. The ‘new’ Waldegrave Arms may have occupied a plot somewhere  in the blank space named ‘Kingsmill esquire’. Their property is not detailed because the purpose of the map was to show properties owned by the Waldegrave and Hippisley families. However is it possible that the Falcon and Unicorn occupied roughly the same site as the current Waldegrave Arms.

The icon selected for the Georgian era is taken from a portrait of the ‘Kingsmill esq’ specified in the map.

 The old Waldegrave Arms was demolished and a garage was built in its place.
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Please refer to the acknowledgements page for a list of the contributors to this website.

  1. Can you tell me exactly where the Miners Arms was please? I ought to know, but its been a long time since I lived in the area. When did it cease to be a pub? I just discovered that an ancestor of mine lived there in 1871.

  2. Her name was Hester Main and she was living at the Miners Arms in 1871 with her mother and step father, Jonathan Speed (Publican 10 Acres Land). I eventually found a map showing its location on the B3135 near the intersection with the Old Bristol Road.

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