Skip to content

Unicorn

One of the functions of a Church House  was to act as a social centre or pub which may have evolved into the Unicorn Inn that operated in the 18th century. The centre of the village was former monastic land  Mendip and the monks had a duty to provide hospitality and the incumbents of the church may have held ‘church ales’ to raise funds or to celebrate saints days.
The use of a Church House as a not  particularly holy place of entertainment had ceased by the Stuart period when Church Houses were more likely to be used as a school or workhouse. This may be the origin of the Folly House  that was the only building in  1740on the site of what was later called The Folly.
Richard Loxton was the first recorded tenant of what may have been the site the site but the Loxton holding was not accurately defined. It is believed the Loxtons took over land previously held by the Adams family. Richard Loxton died c1692 and the Yorke family then took over but they appeared to have sub let the inn which is rarely named.
A theory has been suggested that the Unicorn was on the site of Chewton House but the 1740 map is clear that the Unicorn was on the site of the original Waldegrave Arms on the lower cross roads.  The 1740 and 1794 map  roughly agree on the size and layout of the Unicorn Inn.
The Unicorn is first mentioned in the 18th century churchwarden accounts in 1731 when the Yorke family were paying the rates for it. There are numerous subsequent references to it in  poor law  and other records. The Kingsmills owned most of the land in the centre of the village ant heir tenants may have operated the Unicorn Inn. The 1740 records show that the right to collect revenue from the market was held by the tenant of the Unicorn.
The Vestry committee preferred to accommodate people in the Unicorn rather than the Royal Oak which may hint at some past use the place of hopitatilty provided by the monks or it might just mean it was the bigger place.
 The Falcon Inn  is not mentioned in the poor law records at all based in current research but it is mentioned in the 1740 ledgers.
 A Mrs Webb was listed as being jointly responsible for the Inn in 1733 but it is not clear if she was previously a Yorke who had married or a sub tenant.
 A Charled Witcombe may have been the tenant in 1734 but it is more likely it was the King family.
 1741 may have been a bad year or the parish clerk, probably a member of the York family,  was more precise in his record keeping
 The Savage [Salvidege] family from Chew Stoke were accommodated there by Chewton Mendip parish in 1741. Widow Hollbrook was also accommodated at the parish’s expense that year.
Widow Hill appears to have taken over paying the rates in 1744 and running a pub was one way a widow could earn her keep.
Thomas Ballos [Blanning?] was accommodated by the parish there in 1748.
The 1766 ledgers contain references to a Susanna Dudden who took a lease for a cottage that was either once part of the Unicorn or it could have meant that she was a long line of widows who supported herself in her old age  by running, or working in, a pub. She was 63 at the time. The Duddens later took on the New Inn.
John Dale stayed there for at least on week in 1750. The Plenty family were accommodated in 1752 as was Sarah Dale
 Turn pike Road was built about 1754 and it has been suggested that  the main road no longer passed by the Unicorn which caused its demise but that is based on the assumption that the Unicorn was on the site of Chewton House which it was not.
Jane Dale was accomodated in 1758 and  Edmund Rack’s survey c1781  describes the Unicorn as the better place to stay and does not mention any other pub apart from the New Inn.
Newspaper articles show that the Hart family were the tenants in the last part of the 18th century and their tenure covered the change of name to the Waldegrave Arms. The Harts were still the tenants in 1839.
.
The 1807 map shows the site was already a Vicarage which was constructed between 1799 and 1800.
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: