Caldecote, Kingston and Toft are three villages close together in South Cambridgeshire, a mile apart from each other as the crow flies. At times in the 19th and 20th century there would have been at least 5 pubs open across the villages; the Fox in Caldecote, the Chequers and Rose and Crown in Kingston, and the Black Bull and Red Lion in Toft. Now there are none.
Caldecote appears to have had only one pub, the Fox which closed in 1960 and is now a private house.
Caldecote resident Ellis Rowell recalls:
The main street was an unmade road in 1921, but was made up by the 1930’s. The Fox was kept by Mrs Badcock. Her husband, Mr Joe Badcock (a small farmer) was also bell ringer at the Church along with Mr Sam Farrington. The Church (St Michael and all Angels) had three bells. After Mr Farrington died, Mr Badcock carried on alone ringing all three bells. One rope in each hand and one longer with a loop in it which he put his foot into in order to ring the bell.
On one occasion, Bob and I cycled down to the Fox for a beer. At this time there were a family living at Lily Farm, opposite the Fox, which included several daughters. Some of them were in the pub on this occasion. As it was a warm summer evening, Bob and I were both in our shirt sleeves. We sat in the bar drinking our beer and the girls were intrigued by the fact that Bob’s shirt kept moving, suddenly there were shrieks from the girls as a ferret popped his head out of Bob’s shirt front. The girls calmed down and were soon at home with the ferret. Bob kept several ferrets and often took one out with him
The pub was in the same family from at least 1869 when William Badcock was listed as publican and carrier. By 1916 Mrs Harriet Badcock is listed at the Fox.
Kingston has had at least three pubs.
There was an inn of some sort in Kingston in 1593. The Chequers and the Rose and Crown public houses appeared in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The last public house in the village, however, closed in 1960. (A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely, C. R. Elrington)
The White Horse is also mentioned and a brewhouse was recorded in 1822
Existed by at least 1832. Now a private dwelling, the white house on the left at the end of Field Road.
In some villages Plough Monday, if not observed by the traditional drawing of the plough in more recent years, was at least celebrated by a supper at the local inn for the farm workers. In 1937, for example, it was recorded that in Toft the day would be the occasion that year for the men of the village to go over to Kingston for a supper of salt beef, carrots and potatoes at the Chequers. This was to be followed by a concert of old songs sung to the accompaniment of a pianist from Cambridge.(Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore, Enid Porter)
Robert Custerton was recorded as a beer retailer from at least 1851 to 1883. The 1891 census names George Custerson as ‘Farmer and publican’ of the Chequers, so perhaps this was the same pub in the same family. By 1916 David Custerton is recorded as a beer retailer.
Rose and Crown
(corner of Rectory Lane/Church Lane)
A 19th century pub next to the church:
In 1851 Samuel Cato is listed as a beer retailer in Kingston. By 1879 Mrs Matilda Cato is listed at the Rose & Crown. From at least 1891 – 1916 Peter Jacklin was the publican. The 1891 census records Louisa Jacklin as daughter of Peter Jacklin.
A resident of Kingston, Peter Stokes, comments:
Louis Jacklin, who lived in Kingston (I think) from around 1914 up to the late 1930’s remembers that The Rose and Crown had a full licence, but the Chequers had a licence for beer and tobacco only.
At the side on Rectory Lane stands the old Mead House:
Although there are no longer any pubs, the village does hold a monthly ‘Village Pub evening‘ in the village hall on the first saturday of the month, and an annual beer festival there in July.
Toft had at least three pubs and the buildings of two of them remain – the Black Bull and the Red Lion, dating back to at least the early 1800s but probably older.
The Old Black Bull, on the High Street opposite Stoney Lane, was a pub from at least the beginning of the 1800s, probably earlier, being converted to a private house around 1966.
Now a Chinese Restaurant but was still operating as a pub as recently as 1989. On the High Street at No. 2. In 1851 John Plowman was victualler at the Red Lion. From at least 1869 to 1892, the publican was George Simons.
Toft does however have a Social club that serves real ale and holds an annual Toft Beer Festival.
The nearest open pubs are:
Three Horseshoes, Comberton – a traditional village pub serving hearty food and real ale.
Hardwick – Blue Lion – calling itself a ‘gastropub’, serves Greene King IPA and a guest. There has apparently been a ‘Pub on this site since 1769‘
There’s also the Willow Tree at Bourn, although it is now very much the ‘Country Gastropub’ it describes itself as, it does serve real ale.
Note: Since writing this post, the Toft Historical Society have written a detailed article on the history of public houses in Toft