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  • Writer's pictureIain Duncan

The History of our house.

THE CROWN INN – Barley Market Street (Alias the Crown and Cushion and South Western Hotel and now One Drake Road B&B)

The origins of the Crown Inn can be traced to an early C18 lease which refers to a new property built in Barley Market Street by a Richard Abbot and named the Crown and Cushion Inn. By 1752 a house, yard and back-buildings going under the name of the Crown and Cushion were owned by a William Spry Esq. and leased to a Jno. Kinsman; a Chief rent of ‘two pence halfpenny’ was paid to the Duke of Bedford for a pair of stairs; the property value was entered as £7.

In 1798 a Hubbett is named as the victualler at the Inn in a Tavistock commercial directory. Hubbett remains a mystery man or woman.

In 1815 the Quarter Sessions Records for Tavistock record 33 licences for inns and beerhouses in the parish. In 1816, the first year that inn names were recorded against the licensees, a William Halse is recorded as taking on the licence of the Crown Inn. Halses’s tenure of the Crown was to be a short one and ended in 1819 when William moved on to the Fox and Hounds in Pepper St where a Mary Halse died, aged 54, in December 1822, followed by William in November 1827, aged 37. Both are buried in St Eustachius churchyard.

The licence for the Crown passed to an elusive William Disting, licensee for one year only, who was to be followed by a John Dawe Fitze in 1820 who is given as an innholder at the baptism of his two sons, in 1820 and 1822 in Tavistock, when living in Barleymarket Street. John Fitze was a Cornishman born in South Hill in 1792 and married a Jenny Pethick there in 1820. Jenny (Jane) Fitze died in 1822 three months after the birth of their son John. Six year later John re-married to an Ann Hitchins in South Hill and by 1841 had moved on to live with his father, his new mother in law, son George and five new Fitzes. After the death of his first wife Jenny in 1822 John Dawe Fitze left the inn trade and went back to the land to work Higher Manaton Farm. John was the brother of Mary Fitze who married John Greenfield in 1846 and they ran the Golden Lion Inn in Brook Street from 1846 to 1850.

From 1822 William Slocombe, was mine host at the Crown for the next 4 to 5 years. Born in Tavistock in 1788 William was the son of a whitesmith and the Slocombes worked as whitesmith in Elbow Lane in the 1830’s but William was to follow another path, that of a victualler. William and his wife Ann, from Beer Ferrers, ran the Crown until the family moved on to the Fox and Hounds inn in Pepper Street in Tavistock, in 1827 where the Slocombes were living at the birth of their fourth child Ann. In 1834/5 William took the licence for the Green Dragon in West Street pending its demolition and re-build which was more than imminent, building had commenced in

September 1834. At completion of the new Corn Market William Slocombe became licensee of the Cornmarket Inn, incorporated as an integral part of the new Corn Market, until William’s death there in 1860. William and Ann are buried together in Dolvin Road Cemetery.

It was a William Rowe who took over the Crown from the Slocombes in 1827, previously having been mine host in the Commercial Inn for 10 years from 1817. Beer was in the blood of this Rowe family, William and his two brothers John Blagdon Rowe and Joseph Rowe are all running inns in Tavistock in the early part of the nineteenth century. The patriarch of the family in the latter half of the eighteenth century was John Rowe, likely a native of Beer Ferrers in Devon, who married Charity Blagdon, also of that village; they were to marry in the local parish church on 17th of December 1781and raise a family of 6 children, five boys and two girls. It is very likely that this was a farming family.

William Rowe was baptised in Beer Ferrers parish church on the 18th of April 1802 and married Ann Sam(p)son in Ann’s home parish of South Tawton in June 1825. William ran the Crown Inn from 1827 until his death at the inn in June 1840 when Ann took over as licensee.

In 1850 the Duke of Bedford’s agent in Tavistock, John Benson, shows some interest in the Crown Inn. On 15 October 1850 Benson writes to Christopher Haedy, the Duke’s estate steward in London, “I enclose you plans of Mr Beaufords premises in & near Tavistock. No 1 is situated in Barley Market Street and comprises the Crown Inn - & two other dwellings all in very imperfect condition. The Crown is held by Mr Thomas Chubb on a Lease but I have not been able to learn the term or conditions but I should say whenever it falls in hand it requires rebuilding.

One of the other houses is also out on Lease - & the third has lately fallen into Mr Beaufords hand. Both these houses are underlet two or three times over & for more than their legitimate value. There are three doors opening from Mr Beaufords premises into the passage shown in the plan and for which Mr Beauford pays an acknowledgement to The Duke. Not knowing the Leasehold Interest I cannot put a value upon the premises but if they were in hand and in repair I suppose £60 a year would be a full Rent - as near as I can gather the Rack Rent paid is £71 - & the repairs bad....”

The Crown Inn would appear to be on the list of ‘must have’ properties for the Bedford Estate but in March 1859 Ann Rowe buys the freehold of the Crown and three adjoining residential properties for £1300 from the Rev Henry Walter Beauford. Ann pays £700 down with the rest to follow, a promise not kept and at Ann’s death in 1861 the debt had not been honoured and had accumulated interest to leave a debt of £640.

Ann Rowe appears to have landed the freehold despite a Mr Thomas Chubb, a maltster in Tavistock, holding the lease in 1850. In 1857 Ann handed responsibility of the Crown to her son, John, who had been an assistant in the business from at least 1851 and was the named victualler from 1857. Ann died of paralysis aged 68 in February 1961 and left the inn in her son’s seemingly capable hands, but by August 1867, despite taking out a £1050 mortgage on the property with a William Samuel Pearce, John was declared bankrupt. On the first of August 1867 the following notice appeared in the Tavistock Gazette, it gives a detailed analysis of the contents of the Crown in at the time:

“In Bankruptcy – In the matter of John Rowe a Bankrupt. WARD and CHOWEN will SELL at AUCTION on Tuesday, 6th of August instant, at 12 o’clock at noon, the undermentioned and very superior and modern Household FURNITURE etc etc at the Crown Inn, situate in Barley Market Street, Tavistock. The following effects will be sold under the powers obtained in a bill of sale viz :-Two sets of handsome mahogany telescope dining tables, mahogany circular and occasional table, two mahogany side boards (one with handsomely carved back, nearly new), 12 very superior hair-seat chairs, in mahogany, 10 leather-seat ditto, ditto, excellent Brussels carpets, with hearth rugs to match, (nearly new), lounge in walnut, hair sofa in mahogany, 2 very handsome chimney glasses, a large number of first-class engravings and oil paintings, oriental china, 7 cases of wax flowers, under glass shades, skeleton clock, under glass shade, handsome cut-glass three-light gaslier and gas fittings, chimney ornaments.

The appointments of 7 bedrooms – consisting of 2 very handsome mahogany Albert beds, with cornice and carved footboards and furniture, 2 mahogany four-post beds, 3 iron beds, 2 Albert beds and furniture, French bed, 13 bed ties, bolsters, pillows, mattresses, bedding, mahogany and other chests of drawers, 1 very handsome mahogany washstand with marble top, 5 washstands and ware, dressing tables, 1 very superior large size looking glass with marble slab, several other looking glasses in good condition, cane-seat and other chairs, box ottomans, bedroom carpets, kitchen tables, chairs, culinary utensils, copper coal scuttle, ditto kettle, boilers, saucepans, chairs , and a kitchen stove.

Also the fittings in the bar :- Consisting of a CAPITAL FIVE-PULL BEER ENGINE, spirit casks and taps, measures, hot water jugs, butler’s and other trays, 2 mahogany tables, chairs, gas fittings, cut glass decanters, and a quantity of glasses, dinner service, plated drinking cup etc etc. Also a GRAND PIANO, (by Broadwood & Sons) in excellent condition.

The following furniture and all the other Household Effects and Articles of the above Bankrupt will be sold by order of the Assignee; viz :- Wardrobe, 8-day clock, 3-light gaslier, wool and other mats, night commode, towel airers, stair canvass, knife boxes, brass and other candlesticks, dish covers, boilers, water pails, the fittings of the skittle alley, including a set of skittles, drinking tables, and the gas fittings, small stove etc etc.

The above offers a capital opportunity to persons furnishing, the furniture being of modern manufacture, and in capital condition, and may be viewed the day before the sale. NOTICE! All persons having any property or effects of the above Bankrupt, are requested to deliver up the same immediately to the person in charge of the Bankrupt’s estate, and all persons indebted to the said Bankrupt, are requested to pay the same to the official Assignee, and give notice to Mr CHILCOTT, Tavistock, the Solicitor in the Bankruptcy, or his agent Mr Pitts Solicitor Exeter.

Dated 1st August, 1867” On the 26th of August 1867 the Crown Inn itself was put up for sale, ‘under a power of sale contained in an indenture of mortgage ...’. The Crown Inn was described thus “All that well-established Inn and Premises called the “CROWN INN,” situate in Barley Market Street, Tavistock and lately occupied by Mr John Rowe. The house contains – Bar, Tap Room, Dining Room, Larder and Kitchen on the entrance floor, and a Drawing Room and 7 good Bedrooms on the upper floors. There are 4 large Underground Cellars, a Courtlage [sic], 2 Pigs Houses, and Stables for 30 Horses with Lofts over. There is also a good Bowling Alley adjoining the Courtlage, which has been recently fitted up. The Premises are in good order, and possess every convenience for carrying on an extensive business. The Courtlage and Outbuildings could at a small expense, be converted into Workshops or Stores. Possession can be obtained immediately”

This is a relatively big property in order to house the horses, pig houses and skittle alley. Either the property had been rebuilt or fully repaired between Benson’s note in 1850 some 17 years earlier than this sale date.

The inn was put up for sale as Lot 1 of 4 Lots offered, the others being three dwelling houses incorporating two shops adjacent to the Crown; that these were the property of John Rowe as part of the £1050 mortgage from William Samuel Pearce is likely.

It is likely that part of John Rowe’s inability to make ends meet at the Crown was because trade had begun to suffer from the effects of the street markets being removed from the Market Street area with the opening of the new Pannier Market in 1863; it is true that the town’s inns were still in the same places but the centre of the market trade had gone and other inns in the area may well have felt the pinch. On John Rowe’s relinquishing the inn in August 1867 the property freehold passed to William Samuel Pearce against the previous mortgage arranged in the 1860s. William Pearce’s chosen

new tenant was John Sandercock Chowen who took on the tenancy in October 1867. The everyday life of the Crown appears not to have given the inn a bad name; after two years under Chowen things had changed.

John Sandercock Chowen was born in Marystow in 1831, the son of Richard, a farmer, and Grace. John’s early years were spent in farming before becoming a butler to a Richard Thomas Combe, a Magistrate living in Langport, Somerset. From butling to innkeeper was not perhaps a good choice for John. On Wednesday the 27th of October 1869 John Sandercock Chowen appeared at the Tavistock Petty Sessions in the Guildhall “on summons charging him with permitting drunkenness and allowing persons of notoriously bad character to assemble” in the Crown on the 14th of October last. The evidence of Superintendent Pickford, who had visited the Crown at 2 o/clock in the morning with a Sergeant Coles, was convincing in that he found a great number of people in the house and “He first inspected one or two of the downstairs’ rooms where there were several men and women in a state of intoxication. He then proceeded upstairs and entered a room where there were seven or eight females with several men. Two or three of the females were women of ill fame whilst the others were strangers. The majority were the worse for liquor. In another room dancing was going on, upwards of thirty or forty participating in the terpsichorean display. On going in to another apartment a man came out in company with a woman, who on seeing witness ran down the stairs. Witness entered a fourth room where on the bed lay a man of the name of Doidge in a helpless state of intoxication. On proceeding downstairs and inspecting other rooms he found men and prostitutes in various stages of drunkenness. Witness called defendant’s attention to it. He said he knew nothing about it, was very sorry if it was so, and that the house should be cleared. With the assistance of the police, the parties were ejected...” Sergt Coles, ably supported by PC Porter, corroborated his boss’s evidence and returned at 11 o/clock that evening and found ‘an assemblage of men and women there. Some were quarrelling, the majority being the worse for liquor’.

Despite the defendant’s solicitor stating that ‘it was an exceptional time of Goose Fair’, and the evidence of an employee of the Crown Inn and two local witnesses the Bench, ‘after a short deliberation’. found the case against Chowen proven on both charges and ‘They were disgusted at the disclosures that had been made to them’. For permitting drunkenness in house they inflicted the full penalty of £5 in addition to 12s 6d costs, or in default, two months’ imprisonment. Chowen paid up likely fully aware that the charge of ‘allowing persons of notoriously bad character to assemble’ was not mentioned re the guilty verdict. There were no mitigating circumstances, indeed the Magistrate stated that “The defendant had previously been convicted for offending against the tenor of his Licence, and had been repeatedly cautioned by both the Bench and the Police, and in case he was not more careful for the future his licence would surely be withdrawn.”

Only one such offence against Chowen has been found ie that of Chowen being fined £1 and costs in August 1868 for having his house open during prohibited hours. Three months later, on 24th of January 1870 John Chowen threw in the towel and the licence of John S Chowen for the Crown was transferred to Mr Samuel Stanton. John Sandercock Chowen moved away from inns and Tavistock, first becoming a servant in Egg Buckland and, after a marriage to Mary Ann Way in 1874, then becoming a waiter (again) in St Andrews Plymouth. He died in Plymouth in 1887 aged 56.

Samuel Stanton was born in St Cleer in Cornwall in 1826. His father was a labourer in the copper mines, an occupation which Samuel and his two brothers were also engaged in in 1841. The lure of Devon and the alluring Jane Soper from Marystow, whom he married in St Cleer in 1849, was unmissable and by April 1851 the Stantons, with their first-born Mary Jane, were living in Bannawell Street in Tavistock; Samuel was a miner. Moving to Whitchurch from at least 1861 until January 1870 the Stanton family were to live at Milemead Lane, near Sortridge Mine, likely Samuel’s place of work. Then came the offer of a chance to become and innkeeper; Samuel and family moved into the Crown Inn at the start of 1870 as John Chowen and family bowed out. New Year, new innkeeper, same problems.

Who chose Samuel Stanton as the next mine host is not clear but the choice was misguided and Stanton was to follow in the tawdy footsteps of John Chowen. Some three years after Chowen’s departure from the Crown the Tavistock Gazette of 10th April 1873 reports of Samuel Stanton “Samuel Stanton, the keeper of the “Crown Inn,” was summoned for permitting prostitutes to assemble in his house and allowing them to remain longer than was necessary for refreshment. Mr Eliot Square attended for the defendant. PC Luckcraft, who went in plain clothes to the house on the 28th March, proved that there were several prostitutes there for a considerable time that evening, and after his evidence had been corroborated by two other policemen, Mr Square said he felt it useless to struggle against the evidence, and he would advise his client to plead guilty. The superintendent of police stated that up to this time the defendant had kept his house very respectable, and said he also did so when he resided at Whitchurch. In consequence of this statement, Mr Square appealed to the Bench to impose a light fine on defendant’s promising that no such thing should take place in his house again.

The bench, however, considered the case to be clearly proved, and they fined the defendant £5 and costs, and ordered an endorsement to be made on the conviction on the back of his licence. There was another case against him for permitting drunkenness in his house, but the superintendent asked the bench to allow him to withdraw it on payment of costs, which was done.” The drunkenness case referred to was in Court the same day when, on 28th March 1873, Mary Ann Dann, James Friend and William Townsend were summoned for having been found drunk in the Crown Inn. The Bench found the case proved and fined each of the defendants 5s and costs. Friend and Townsend paid up but Mary Dann elected to go to prison for 7 days, leaving the Hall in high spirits and telling some of her friends to be sure ‘to bring her some dinner’, in effect rather cocking a snoot at the bench. At the Tavistock Petty Sessions of the 22nd of October 1873 Samuel Stanton was fined £10 with costs for ‘having permitted his house to be a resort of prostitutes on the night of Michaelmas Fair’; Goose Fair night The conviction was based on the evidence of a PC Luckcraft and others. The police superintendent had stated that since the April conviction the house had been very well managed and in the light of this the Bench were disposed to deal somewhat leniently with this case. The Court report is a telling tale of family life in some licensed premises of the times; all that unlawful behaviour within a household that still likely gave shelter to the Stanton family. Six days after the Stantons were fined for permitting prostitutes to use the house on Goose fair night a William Beer of Whitchurch accused Mary Jane Axford, servant to Samuel Stanton, of stealing six half crowns from him whilst he was at the inn to have his boot repaired by Jane Stanton’s brother William Soper, a shoemaker who carried on his business at the inn. The family rallied around Mary Axford with contrary, but conflicting, evidence to that of William Beer given by Soper, ‘the son of the landlord’ and Mrs Stanton; and the case was dismissed. The alleged theft case and the latest Goose Fair prosecution seemingly left the Stantons somewhat sore and were not going to take the words of mere policemen that they had permitted prostitutes to use the house on Goose Fair night; the main irritant was PC Samuel Luckcraft, who also gave the convicting evidence in the case against the Crown in March of that year. On 13th November Mrs Stanton appeared in Tavistock County Court alleging that PC Luckcraft had committed perjury.; the case was to cover three days in Court

The detailed evidence reveals more about the Goose Fair night goings-on. Evidence for the Stantons included Samuel Stanton Junr, son, giving evidence that he was taking ‘the money at the dancing-room door’; a local watchmaker stating that Luckcraft, who was in plain clothes, was seen at various stages during the afternoon and evening, he had been drinking but was not intoxicated; Grace Stanton, daughter, saw Luckcraft with wine and beer; Henry Stanton, son, stated he saw Luckcraft order and drink gin; Jane Stanton, accuser, stated she had taken money from Luckcraft for drink; W S Pearce, freeholder of the Crown Inn, claimed he saw Luckcraft

drinking at the inn and also that he had dealings with a Mr Millman about taking the Crown Inn about a month previously, but would not go ahead because of the inn’s bad reputation and the high rent. “I did not say I’ll make the blackguard Luckcraft pay for it”; John Morriss, a licensed victualler from Plymouth, knew Luckcraft and saw him in the inn and he drank only ‘3 pennyworth of rum’; PCs Tapley, Porter, Short, Mollard and White and Sergeant Willington gave evidence on the side of the defendant. Mr Thomas White, son-in-law, also gave evidence at the first day’s hearing but no details were reported. The Bench were not unanimous in their findings and did not consider the evidence strong enough to warrant sending the case for trail. The case was dismissed. The defending solicitor then made applications for summonses against Mr Pearce, Mrs Stanton and Thomas White for perjury. This latter case was also dismissed by the bench.

In the course of the inquiry in November 1873, Gilson Martin, a Magistrate and Steward to the Duke of Bedford in Tavistock, hotly denied that he had conspired with the magistrates in an endeavour to put down the Crown Inn because it did not belong to the Duke.

What fun this all seems to us today but the proceedings against inns were perhaps indicative of the state of licensing requirements at the time. Interesting too that Tavistock could spare six policemen to ‘eye-up’ the Crown for possible misdemeanour; today they would be lucky to get one.

Before the above events had concluded in Court Samuel Stanton had already decided to throw in the towel. On November the 13th the local press advertised that he was leaving the district and his house contents were to be auctioned on 25th November. The Stantons left Tavistock and some seven years later were found in Marske, on the north-east coast of the North Riding of Yorkshire, where Samuel was working as an ironstone miner. He died in Marske district in June 1898 aged 74; Jane joined him in January 1922, aged 97.

From the 28th of January 1974 Stanton’s licence began hedge-hopping. It was transferred for six months to a David Edwards. On the 15th of July a Samuel Bennett was in charge to until 26th of August. Samuel Bennett seems to have meant business and he immediately began to advertise the Crown Commercial Hotel in the local press from July 1874. In August 1874 Bennett offered a day out at Plymouth Races from the Crown for a modest 8s (40p) offering travel, food, drink and smokes all-in. Who could refuse? Obviously somebody did - on 26th of August David Edwards was back as licensee until 21st of October.

Crown advertisement Tavistock Gazette 24th July 1874 Whilst all this licensee swapping was going on the inn was up for sale, the advert giving great detail of the inn, its facilities and economic position. “Free Country Hotel, in the South of Devon, with capital billiard table, bagatelle table, and skittle-alley. The only ones in town. Trade about £80 monthly. Bar, bar- parlour, tap-room, smoking-room, six bed rooms; yard, stabling for thirty horses, piggeries, fowl houses, three cellars, one brewhouse. Rent only £35. Twenty-one years lease. All at £300. – Apply at the Crown Inn Tavistock.” No detail has been found for an elusive David Edward and Samuel Bennett also seems to have been ‘vaporised’. No ‘fitting’ reason can be found for Samuel’s disappearance, the only possible clue is a Public Notice placed in the Tavistock Gazette on the 24th of December the following year requesting “All Persons having any claim against Samuel Bennett, late of the Crown Inn Tavistock, will please send in their account at once to 5, Charles Street, Westminster Bridge Road, London.

On the 21st October 1874 a Mathew Henry Marsh became the new licensee, and likely leaseholder, of the Crown. Born in Maidstone in 1823, Mathew Marsh is found in Chatham in 1871 with his wife Elizabeth whom he married in 1868 (likely second marriage). Mathew was a wine and spirit merchant living at 58 Chatham High Street with wife, mother and 4 servants, nurse, cook, barman and potman. Not an unlikely entourage for taking on a licensed establishment in Tavistock. Mathew’s tenancy lasted a mere 383 days. Mathew died at the inn on 16th November 1875; he is buried in Dolvin Road cemetery with 19 year-old Henry Wilson Oliver who died in Tavistock the previous March. An obelisk to marks the grave. Mathew Marsh’s widow and executrix, Elizabeth, applied for and temporarily took on the licence for the Crown in May 1876. Innkeeping and Elizabeth did not mix and on 28th June the same year the Crown licence was transferred to Henry Pearce Chisell; the Bench was informed that the Marsh tenancy had seen a ‘very well kept house’ and with a certificate of character being produced for Chisell everything was hunky-dory.

Henry Pearce Chisell was born near Kingsbridge in Devon, the son of a quarryman, and married Tavistock born Mary Metherell in June 1860 in Tavistock Parish Church; Mary was the daughter of Josiah Metherell, a Cornish miner from St Austell. Henry seems an unlikely candidate to take over a public house with, to say the least, a somewhat tawdry reputation. In April 1851 Henry Chisell, aged 17, is an apprentice shoemaker was living near Kingsbridge, Devon. Ten years later, now married, Henry is simply listed as a shoemaker living in Exeter Street in Tavistock, yet by August 1863 H P Chisell was advertising in the Tavistock Gazette as having taken over the boot and shoe business of Reynolds and Co at no lesser an address than 11 Duke Street, Tavistock, a most prestigious business address in town. By at least 1871 his wife Mary was also advertising as a milliner and fancy draper at the same address. Five years later the Chisells take on the Crown Inn and licensing records show that the freehold of the property no longer stood with William Samuel Pearce; the Bedford Estate had finally taken over. Was there a connection between Henry Pearce Chisell and mortgage provider William Samuel Pearce, as a second given name of ‘Pearce’ to Henry Chisell seems rather a coincidence. No such connection has been found.

After fifteen years as ‘mine-host’ of the Crown Henry died ‘rather suddenly’ in the hotel on the 17th of January 1882, aged 48. Keeping the licensed premises going became a struggle for Mary and on 21st July of that year Mary’s creditors met in the offices of Square, Bridgman and Bond in Plymouth to discuss liquidation. The Crown had fallen.

After Henry’s death Mary Chisell continued to work as a milliner and live in the old Crown in premises at the least until the death of her mother, Mary Metherell, who died there in November 1907, she having lived to the remarkable age of 103; Mary Metherell is buried in Plymouth Road Cemetery. Mary Chisell, now aged 67, likely moved on soon after the death of her mother in 1907 and four years later is found living in two rooms in Alverstoke in Hampshire where she died in 1917. Mary Chisell’s family connection with Alverstoke, if there was one, is not known. Soon after the death of Henry Chisell the old Crown Inn property was divided into two tenements, Mary and her mother living in a part and still, at least in 1891, taking in boarders; the remainder of the property was occupied by a coach builder, John Morris, a forerunner of the Tavistock family which operates to this day as undertakers in the town. Life in this property quietened down from 1882 and the Morris family occupied the whole of these premises after Mary Chisell moved away in 1907. In the Duke of Bedford’s great Tavistock Sale in 1911 it can be seen that there had been physical changes to the property, no doubt escalated by the building of Drake Road from Bedford Square to access the new LSWR station in the late 1890s. A description of the main dwelling house in 1911 shows a kitchen and two sitting rooms on the ground floor with a wash-house and two cellars below. The first floor now has three front rooms and 1 back room with three bedrooms and a WC above, these being developed out of the seven bedrooms of the Crown inn. The stabling and skittle alley etc had been developed into workshops.

On Thursday the 29th of June 1911, Lot 191 in the Great Sale, the old Crown Inn with workshops, a property with a rental value of £21 10s a year, was sold to the then tenant Mr John Morris for £500. The buildings may have been changed but its reputation as a ‘bawdy house’ lived on and such bad behaviour brought on by the evils of drink were well remembered 20 years after the Crown harboured ladies of ill repute. These memories by some were used in the temperance cause, in 1895 a correspondent, writing to express his ‘astonishment’ at beer being distributed on Christmas Day to the Workhouse residents, wrote of the Crown Inn “I look upon it as a gross insult to all who have the interest of our fellows at heart. I am old enough to remember numberless instances of misery incurred through drink. See what degradation, ruin in fact, was brought on many young men of our younger days by the “Crown Inn”, and the results of that “Hell upon Earth” resort – too appalling to dwell upon.” ‘It’ was the distribution of beer in the workhouse. Bit over the top that, but then that seems to have been the hell and damnation prospect for anyone having the stupidity to drink beer according to some in the nineteenth century.

The ex-Crown Inn today stands a little overwhelmed by Drake Road but the front gives a splendid opportunity for the inquisitive to see the old cobbled surfaces of what was once the ancient Barley Market Street and time to envisage what was once a busy inn. Not the crowning glory of Tavistock’s inns but one with an interesting history to tell.

Crown (and Cushion)/South Western Hotel licensees John Kinsman

Caleb Kinsman Hubbett victualler

Wm Halse Wm Disting John Dawe Fitze Wm Slocombe William Rowe Ann Rowe John Rowe John Chowen Samuell Stanton David Edwards Samuel Bennett David Edwards Mathew Henry Marsh Henry Pearce Chisell – renamed South Western Hotel Licence surrendered. One Drake Road by Iain & Jack White-Duncan began its journey.

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