The parish of Bosbury is very extensive and there was formerly a pub at the small hamlet of Old Country, fully two miles before the village itself is reached [coming from Cradley]. It was on the left-hand side just before a nasty double bend in the road. In Lascelles’ Directory of 1851 Kenelm Orgee appears as a beer retailer, recorded in another directory in 1858 as ‘Kenlin’ Orgee. [but confirmed on his gravestone as Kenelm] By 1867 he had added farming to his occupation, but by 1891 he had been succeeded by Mrs. Augusta Orgee. [he died in January 1891 and his widow, Augusta, the following year] When the 1910 Land Valuation was carried out, the Old Country Inn was being rented by William Bishop, but the owner was Alfred Orgee of The Green, Bosbury. As well as the inn, Bishop rented some 10 acres of surrounding land. Mrs. Ada Lord was in charge in 1941, and it was still open in 1964. In that year H.P. Bulmer and Co. Ltd. issued a list of inns of Herefordshire (but inns only appeared in the list if they sold Bulmer’s bottled products!). The Old Country appeared as selling Bulmer’s bottled products. Even so it closed within a few years.
For such a small hamlet it is surprising that there was another short-lived beer house in Old Country, held in 1879 by Joseph Holder. The 1881 census doesn’t give it a name, recording that it was just a public house with 79 year-old Joseph ‘Older’ as publican.
From Old Country the road meanders on its way to Bosbury, past the splendid Bosbury House behind its tall brick wall. On the outskirts of Bosbury a side road to the right leads to Dowding’s Brook, just over which was a beer house called, not surprisingly, the Brook Inn. In 1891 James Matthews was a beer retailer at the Brook, and the 1910 Land Valuations shows that it was tenanted, as it was then owned by the Royal Well Brewery Co, Malvern. The Brook Inn was run in 1941 by Harry Colley, but it did not last much longer after this and reverted to a simple cottage, the front of which has been rebuilt in red brick in modern times.
On entering the main settlement of Bosbury, on the right-hand side is a building referred to in the 1997 Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club as the Dog. This is a three-bay house with a cross-wing, built initially in the 16th century and altered c.1600 and later. The name is suggestive of a pub, but an earlier name was Dog Farm — it has never been a licensed premises. Indeed, in 1871 the Dog was the residence of Edwin Peacock, a certified schoolmaster.
A little further along, on the left, is the Bell which has been an inn for more than 200 years. The Hereford Journal of 18 April 1776 carried an advertisement for a meeting to take place at the Bell Inn, Bosbury, to consult about flooding in the parish of Bosbury, while on 4 May 1791 some property was advertised to be sold at auction ‘at Mr. Loggin’s, the Bell Inn, in Bosbury ...’ This was Samuel Loggen — the name is spelled in various ways. Thus another advertisement in the Hereford Journal of 11 December 1793 stated that some propety to be sold at ‘Mr. Leggan’s, Innholder, Bosbury’.
It was during Samuel Loggen’s time that the Amicable Society was established meeting at the Bell Inn, the rules of which are dated 7 October 1794. After his death his will, which had been made some years before,was proved on January 1810. In it he was described as a victualler, and he left his copyhold estate and all his goods and chattels including his stock in trade, to his neice Mary Mutlow, subject to a payment of £10 to his sister-in-law Jane Loggen of Castle Frome, a similar payment to his neice Elizabeth Loggen, also of Castle Frome, and a payment of 1s. 6d. a week to Eleanor Loggen who was then residing in his delling house in Bosbury, and to allow her a room there for the rest of her life. The relationship between Samuel and Elanor Loggen is not stated, but if she was his widow it seems an ungenerous provision for her.
The Bell Inn was sold by auction on the premises on 13 April 1812, and it was described in the
Hereford Journal as:
“ THAT well-accustomed PUBLIC-HOUSE, called the BELL INN, in the Village of Bosbury aforesaid, together with the Land and Outbuilding; comprising a small Orchard, planted with the choicest Fruit Trees in full bearing, a large and fertile Garden, a large and good Malt-house and Malt Kiln, with a Brew-house and Cellars underneath, and an excellent Stable for Eight Horses.
Also a House or Tenement adjoining the above, with a good Shop, subject to the Life-Interest of a Woman about Seventy years of age.
The aforesaid Public-House and Tenement adjoining are Copyhold of Inheritance, under the Lord Bishop of Hereford, little inferior to Freehold.—The Inn is now in the Possession of Mr. Richard Panting, who has had Notice to quit the same at Michaelmas next.
The above Premises would, exclusive of the Public-house, be very convenient for a Maltster, Butcher, or Baker. —The Purchaser will be expected to come into Copy at the next Court, which will holden in May, 1812. ”
Presumably the life interest referred to was that of 70 year-old Elizabeth Loggen.
The landlords often had other business interests, and in 1851 John Baskerville was described as a victualler and shopkeeper, and also ran the village post office. John Lewis, licensee in 1858, was also a shopkeeper, while in 1867 Henry Caundel was a horse breaker. At the beginning of the 2oth century the pub was owned by the Ledbury brewery of Lane Bros. and Bastow and was tenanted by Ernest Evans. Like the Dog [farmhouse], the Bell Inn was probably built in the 16th century, but was later altered and extended to the west and south. Sections of the original barge boards with running tracery survive on the gable at the north front. Photographs taken early in the 20th century show that the front of the premises was the covered with plaster but this has since been stripped off and the timbering revealed.
In 1888 a bell-ringer called William Fussell was appointed as an instructor to the Hereford Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers ... He kept a diary .... which shows that he visited Bosbury on 26 January 1889, having walked there from Bromyard. In his diary he recorded:
“While at Bosbury I calld on Wm Jennings (age 3 next March) who was a ringer about 60 years ago when the local men only rang rounds but afterwards managed the 30s. A stone jar wh. they used for refreshments held 16 quarts & was emptied during night’s ringing. He remembered the old wooden spire, 2 yds out of the upright —pulled down for safety— it leaned towards the Bell. ”In such a position, it is not surprising that the Bell was the pub used by the ringers!
Lascelles’ Directory of 1851 mentions a William Jenks, a beer retailer in Bosbury, whose establishment was called the Bells. This was not the same as the Bell, and may have ben a name for a beer house called the New Inn, first mentioned in 1858 when John Shaw was in charge. This seems to have been on the same side of the road as the Bell, but further along. [The building which was the New Inn is now Beech House and Beech Villa opposite the parish hall. It was converted to private cottages in 1922] In 1881 he was aged 63 and described as a publican, although a directory of 1879 shows that he did some farming as well. The 1910 Land Valuation shows that the New Inn was owned at that time by Salt & Co., Brewers, of Burton-on-Trent. It did not survive for many years after this.
At the west end of the main street, on the south side, is the former Crown Inn. The glory of the house is a panelled room, the pilasters of the overmantel bearing the date 1571 and the initials RH and MH for Richard and Martha Harford. Richard Harford died in 1578 and recessed in the north wall of the chancel of the church is a most splendid monument to his memory. ....
About 1890 the Crown was visited by H. Thornhill Timmins, who described it thus:
“Quite at the far end, scarce visible in our sketch, stands the wayside inn, containing, in a fine old wainscoted hall known as the Crown Room, some traces of the ancient mansion of the Harford family, whose monuments we have already discovered in the church. This fine apartment is of considerable size, with wide stone-mullioned window. The fireplace is surrounded with old blue Dutch tiles, and over it, in handsomely-carved panels, appear the arms of the families of Wrottesley, Scrope and Fox, and the date 1571. A frieze of delicate carving runs around, and at the crossing of the massive beams in the ceiling three bosses show respectively the bearings of Bishop Skipp, the arms of Scrope, and of Powlett first Marquis of Westminster, having the garter and coronet.”The house must have slipped down the social scale, for by the end of the 18th century it had become the Crown Inn — in the Hereford Journal of 15 August 1798 there is an advertisement for an auction to take place at the ‘Crown-inn in the village of Bosbury’. As with the Bell Inn, a Friendly Society was established there, the rules being dated 14 July 1795.
Advertisements for the inn appear regularly in trade directories and for many years in the second half of the 19th century James Herbert Brazier was here. In 1941, when Frank Rawson was proprietor, it was advertised as ‘Ye Old Crown Hotel’. Subsequently closed and converted to a private residence, it still retains evidence of its former use in the form of a brewery plaque let into the wall. The house has clearly climbed up the social scale again as when it was offered for sale in the summer of 2001 the asking price was £450,000!
In the 19th century there were several beer retailers in the parish of Bosbury who are so far unlocated including George Jones (1867) and James Pugh (1891 and 1902).
At Staplow, a mile further on but still in Bosbury parish, is the Oak Inn. This began as a cider house in the hands of the Harding family. In 1851 Richard Harding was in charge, in 1858 Hannah Harding was the licensee, while in 1867 Richard Harding had taken over as beer retailer. However, the 1871 census shows that Hannah was still in control at the Oak despite being 84 years old. Within a few years William Townsend, who was also a blacksmith, had taken over, but William Henry Jones, in charge in 1902, was only a beer retailer. By 1910 Thomas Bishop was renting the Oak Inn, together with about 3 acres, from the local brewery of Lane Bros. and Bastow of Ledbury. In 1985 CAMRA had stated that it was a ‘17th century locals’ pub, said to be built around an old oak tree’
Note: Beer retailers, innkeepers, publicans and licensed victuallers. Originally beerhouses and alehouses only sold ale or beer whilst taverns sold additional beverages such as wine and spirits. From 1522, a person wanting to sell alcoholic drinks had to apply for a licence from the Quarter or Petty Sessions. From 1617 licences were extended to cover purpose-built inns (often providing food and stabling) and taverns. Both became known in time as public-houses and the innkeeper became the publican or pub landlord. In 1828 a new Alehouses Act followed by the Beerhouse Act of 1830 overhauled the licensing system but created looser regulations for those applying for a licence which resulted in a significant rise in the numbers of licensed premises selling alcohol. The 1830 act allowed any householder who paid the poor rate to retail beer and cider on payment of 2 guineas. When this Act was repealed in 1869 many of the beerhouse keepers started to call themselves licensed victuallers confirming that they had a licence to sell beer and spirits like an innkeeper or publican (not necessarily selling food).