Category Archives: Closed Pubs

A Night At The White Horse Inn

On Thursday evening the Museum of Cambridge, located in a 16th century building that was the White Horse Inn for around 300 years until it closed in 1934, opened its doors as a pub again for one night, serving beer from the premises for the first time in eighty years. The event, a collaboration between Cambridge CAMRA and the Museum of Cambridge as part of Community Pubs Month and Museums at Night, featured guided tours of the museum, including the original bar and snug, a walking tour of the area’s past and present pubs, along with folk musicians and the Cambridge Morris Men helping to recreate the atmosphere from its days as the White Horse Inn. Although there were incidences of gambling and rabies recorded here in the late 1800s, we decided against reintroducing them.

White Horse Inn
Having spent the past few months deep in research, along with co-researcher Steve Linley, we each gave guided tours that highlighted the history of over thirty pubs and a handful of breweries that have existed in an area of about half a square mile – of those, only four pubs remain open.

There were also two beers, from local breweries BlackBar and Moonshine, served from the cask at the event. The ‘Museum Old Ale’ from BlackBar was inspired by a Porter recipe from the Cambridge University archives that came from a “handwritten recipe used by the landlord of the Chequers Inn, Wilburton (1850-65)”, presumably John Fitch, landlord from the mid to late 1800s. I use the term ‘inspired’ because it would have been tricky to recreate a recipe that included “half a bushel of patent malt. Boil your patent in the copper for 36 hours”. Museum Old Ale 4.8%, using one third brown malt, two thirds pale malt, lightly hopped with Fuggles and Boadicea, has an enticing bready malt aroma and caramel flavours. It will be available again at Cambridge Beer Festival this week. Moonshine provided a beer inspired by an Old British Beer recipe from the Durden Park Beer Circle. The beer, an Imperial Stout called ‘Transforming Tomorrow’, was brewed back in 2008 and has spent the last six years ageing in an oak pin that previously contained sherry. It has developed into a strong, vinous brew, with some sherry sweeteness, rich plummy fruits, and oaky vanilla flavours.

Beers like those sell out quickly, and a dash was made to a nearby pub for more supplies – it ended up being acquired from one of the few remaining pubs on our guided tour, the Pickerel, one of the oldest pubs in Cambridge.


We have a display at the Cambridge Beer Festival this week that highlights some of the research about each of the pubs that have existed in the Castle End area of Cambridge, including a wonderful illustration by Jon Harris. We’d be delighted to hear from anybody who has memories of any of the fomer pubs – the Bentinck Arms, Wheatsheaf, Merton Arms and Cow & Calf have all closed within the last fifty years.

Three Tuns, Fen Drayton

The Three Tuns building dates from the fifteenth century, part of it is believed to have originally been the village guildhall, recorded as a pub from 1784.

Three Tuns, Fen Drayton

The interior gives a sense of the building’s age, with inglenook fireplaces and beamed ceilings with ‘Very fine moulded cross beams with carved central boss and leaf stops’ (Pevsner – Buildings of England)

A leaflet in the pub suggests ‘the dining room carvings are Danish which harks back to stories that boats once came up the brook in front of the pub heading to Swavesey which was an inland port’. The brook, once called Hall Brook, connected the village to the river Great Ouse but is now narrow and reed filled:

Hall Brook

The south end of the main building now adjoins what was the village smithy from the 1690s, remaining open into the 1930s:

The old smithy

In 1978 the Cambridge Evening News reported:

The Three Tuns at Fen Drayton won’t look quite the same once Bert Culmer has gone. Not only will regulars miss his familiar face behind the bar, they will also have a job to recognise the interior of the pub, stripped of the collector’s pieces he has covered the walls with during the past 27 years. Hardly an inch in the bars was left uncovered by brasses, guns, swords, wooden carvings, lamps and pictures. Some of the brasses, which took nearly five hours a week to clean, will go with him, but most of the collection will be auctioned. Scruffy his talking parrot, who has been with him for 12 years now, was for once lost for words. (Mike Petty – Looking Back)

Bert and Scruffy would be pleased there are still plenty of brasses and old pictures of the pub and village on the wall.

Three Tuns, Fen Drayton

It’s a welcoming pub, the landlady happy to chat about the place, and busy with diners – we snacked on some good chips. Beers when visited were Greene King IPA and Speckled Hen, along with Elgoods Cambridge Bitter which we enjoyed in the beer garden at the rear – until rain stopped play.

Three Tuns Fen Drayton beer garden

Closed pubs:

“The Horse and Gate, recorded from 1841, in a timber-framed 17th century cottage, closed c.1915, while the Horseshoes on the high street, open by 1851, closed c.1920” (British History)

Horse and Gate Inn

Fen Drayton Horse and Gate

Just around the corner from the Three Tuns stands Gate House, formerly the Horse and Gate pub, now a private dwelling.

The Horseshoes (or Horse Shoes Inn) on the High Street no longer exists.


The Plough, a ‘small alehouse’ dating from the early 19th century stood about a mile along Swavesey Road at the bend known as Bancroft Bridge. The original pub seems to have closed in 1890 and was facing demolition in 1909:

The Plough, a lonely two-storied brick house on the road from Swavesey to Fen Drayton, is in course of demolition. Built in the earlier part of last century for a wayside public house it became a private dwelling about 20 years ago but of late has been tenantless. Between the ceiling of the downstairs room and the floor above a few copper coins, five or six clay pipes, two ancient thimbles, a reel of white cotton and the skeleton of a rat have been found. (Mike Petty – Looking Back)

However, it may have been rebuilt as it was still shown on maps up to 1974, but no longer appears by 1976. In any case, nothing remains of the pub now and a new much larger private house now stands on the site.

Fen Drayton Map:

Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC BY-SA

Fen Drayton Pub Map

The pub is one mile from the Fen Drayton Lakes Guided Bus Stop or about 11 miles from the start of the guided busway cycleway from Milton Road, Cambridge.

See the full map of pubs along the Cambridgeshire guided busway

The Eversdens – closed pubs

The closed pubs of Great Eversden and Little Eversden, two villages about 8 miles SW of Cambridge.

Great Eversden


Eversden Hoops

Open by 1837, closed in 2005, yet as recently as 1989 it was described as ‘the epitome of a thriving village pub’

The lounge, in an elegant and restrained fashion, points to the age of the building. It dates from 1680 and its original centrepiece is a fine Jacobean fireplace, supported by a plethora of beams and a flagged floor. (Roger Protz, 1989)

In 1905 it seemed to have a resident Tory-hating dog:

“Albert Clark told the court that in November a political meeting was held at Great Eversden and afterwards he went to the Hoops public house. A man in front of him clapped his hands and called out ‘Good old Tory’ at which the landlord’s dog flew at him and bit his thigh. He was laid up for 17 days” (Mike Petty, Looking Back)

The pub sign shows a Cooper at work with the hoops used in barrel making:

Eversden Hoops Sign

The Better Pubs map from 1989 shows an earlier sign for the Hoops at Great Eversden which “depicts the Edwardian children’s game of ‘bowling the hoop'”

Hoops sign

There are two other pubs nearby named the Hoops; in Bassingbourn the sign also depicts barrel making but in Barton the sign shows three hoops, perhaps those used in the game of Quoits. The phrase ‘cock-a-hoop‘ may also have connections.

However, the origin of the pub’s name may instead refer to the ’18th century nickname for Bullfinch’, a bird whose numbers are now in rapid decline but which was once considered so destructive to fruit crops that money was offered for each one ‘destroyed’.

It has since been converted into a restaurant, currently Tandoori Indian Restaurant.

Old map showing the Fox and the Hoops:

Great Eversden closed pubs map


Eversden Fox

The Fox was built as a public house sometime after 1811. Now a private house.
In 1851, W. Ellis was publican “and tailor”, and from at least 1869 to 1896 Mrs Sarah Ellis was the publican.

Little Eversden


Built sometime before 1811, the Plough pub stood near the junction of the village street with the road to Great Eversden. It was still there on a 1960 map, but not on a 1976 map, where the land is named Plough Meadow and Plough Corner. By the 1980s the building seems to have been demolished and replaced by modern housing, with no mention of the plough in any houses or land.

Little Eversden 1887
Little Eversden 1976

Charles Flack was publican at the Plough from at least 1883 to 1906 when he is also listed as a coal merchant.

It’s unclear which pub is referred to in My Life by Terry Osborne, but he recalls being told of ‘A man named Mott Allgood always getting drunk in Eversden and falling in a ditch on the way home and sleeping there all night.’

There are no longer any pubs in these two villages. The nearest pub is the Wheatsheaf, Harlton just across the A603 Cambridge Road. A 17th century pub, part of the building is now La Pergola Italian Restaurant.

Castle Inn, Wroxham records the following story about the Castle Inn, also known as the Castle Hotel, Wroxham:

It is said that at a drinking competition held in Wroxham in 1810, one contestant drank 44½ pints of porter in 55 minutes. His opponent defeated him by supping 52½ pints in the same time. The winner then took 2 more pints to his rowing boat, to assist the 6 mile river journey home.

The Castle Inn stood on Norwich Road, 300 metres from the River Bure, from at least 1794 when Faden’s Map was surveyed – it is shown as the ‘Castle Ale House’. In 1809 the death of “Mr Edward Clarke of the Castle Inn” is recorded in the British Register. It survived until the 1990s when it closed and was turned into private houses.

Castle Inn Wroxham

The only place for a drink in Wroxham now is the Shed. However, over the bridge in Hoveton, opposite Roys of Wroxham department store, is the large King’s Head hotel, dating from the 18th century. To the right of it stood the Horseshoes, a 19th century pub, rebuilt in the 1960s and now a boarded up building that closed around 1980. Hotel Wroxham, by the bridge, has a Waterside Terrace bar, with Adnams often available.

Closed Pubs of Caldecote, Kingston and Toft

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.


The Fox
Caldecote appears to have had only one pub, the Fox which closed in 1960 and is now a private house.

Caldecote Fox

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:

Rose and Crown, Kingston

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:

Kingston 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.

Black Bull
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.

Toft Black Bull

Red Lion
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 Red Lion

Toft does however have a Social club that serves real ale and holds an annual Toft Beer Festival.

Map of the closed pubs of Caldecote, Kingston and Toft

Nearest Pubs

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

Collyweston Slater

…and the closed pubs of Collyweston.

The Collyweston Slater was originally a 17th century coaching inn called the Slaters Arms. It was renamed the Cavalier in 1973 for a period, before reverting to a name similar to its original. The adjoining row of six stone cottages were incorporated into the pub at some point in the 20th century.

It is now a fairly large pub with a varied layout inside, an Everards pub serving a nice drop of Moorhouse Pride of Pendle when visited.

Collyweston Slater

Closed pubs:

Collyweston is a village in East Northamptonshire, about three miles south-west of Stamford, 4 1/2 miles south-east of Rutland Water and 45 miles north-west of Cambridge.

Prior to the turn of the century there were five ale-houses in the village, serving a population of 361. Evidently Collyweston had become a hard drinking parish.

The Swan and Blue Bell were the oldest ale-houses. The free standing signposts still exist. The Engine has, still intact, its porch complete with seats where many an hour was smoked and talked away by leisurely men. Public houses, usually the only community centres apart from the church, were open all day from 6.00am to 10.00pm. They have all now disappeared and are private residences, except the seventeenth century slaters Arms.

(J. Martin Goodwin, ‘Collyweston’)

The Blue Bell and the Engine

The Blue Bell (l) and the Engine Inn (r)

By 1940 it had three pubs – The Engine, Blue Bell and Slaters Arms, only the latter having survived into the 21st century. The closed pubs of Collyweston are:

Blue Bell (Bell) – Early C17. Now Blue Bell House. Used as a first aid station during World War Two.
Blue Bell

Corner Inn (Cross Keys) – 17th century house that was a pub for a short time in the late 19th, early 20th century and may have also been called Cross Keys. Also the post office for a time. Now called Corner House, no.15 High St.
Corner Inn

Engine – Early 17th century inn with open fireplaces. Named after a traction engine used in farming. Known as a ‘Tom and Jerry’ beerhouse.

White Swan Inn (the Talbot?) – Early 18th century, now Swan Farm, Back Lane. In the 19th century Elizabeth Freeman was a landlady at the White Swan for over 50 years. She had previously resided at the Bull and Swan, Stamford where she served Dick turpin a quart of ale at the door:

He heartily drank of the ale and putting his silver tankard in his pocket, galloped off on his favourite mare Black Bess to the wonder and vexation of the landlord


On a plan of the village in the 19th century, two brewhouses are shown (were at no. 29/30 and 35, since renumbered).

Collyweston pubs map

Thanks to the Collyweston Historical & Preservation Society for much of the above information.

The Pubs of Ludham, Norfolk

Ludham is a village in the Norfolk Broads, between Norwich and Great Yarmouth on the A1062 and reachable from the river Ant at Ludham Bridge, the Bure at St Benet’s Abbey and the Thurne via Womack Water. (Google Map)

There are two pubs in Ludham, about a mile apart – the Kings Arms in the centre of the village and the Dog Inn near Ludham Bridge. There have been at least 6 other pubs in the village centre and the buildings still exist as private dwellings, all visible within footsteps of the King’s Arms. Another closed pub, the Chequers, once stood at St Benet’s Abbey. From the Dog Inn beer garden you can see across the fields to where the Chequers once stood.

Ludham pubs map

Ludham pubs:
Kings Arms, Norwich Road
Dog Inn, Ludham Bridge (Johnson Street)

Closed pubs:
Bakers Arms, Yarmouth Road
Chequers, St Benet’s Abbey
Rose and Crown, Staithe Road
Royal Exchange, Staithe Rd, Sunnyside
Royal Oak, Norwich Rd
Ship Inn, Yarmouth Rd, opp. Baker’s Arms
Spread Eagle, Staithe Rd – Manor Gates/Croft

Ludham Pubs:

Kings Arms, Norwich Road
Kings Arms

The Kings Arms is in the centre of Ludham, less than 10 minutes walk from Womack Staithe off the river Thurne. It serves good pub grub and Woodfordes Wherry and Nelsons Revenge when visited. There was once a small lounge bar to the left which was primarily for food, but this has now been opened out to create a larger bar area. A 1973 pub guide describes it as a “real old village pub with all the things that one would expect to find in it” and this is still true, although there is no longer “a roaring fire for the winter months” (George Nobbs, Pubs to visit in East Anglia). There is no longer accommodation either; in 1922 when the bus service first came to Ludham, the driver slept at the King’s Arms before returning to Great Yarmouth the next day (Staithe Road, Ludham Archive). There is outdoor seating in the beer garden and at the front of the pub. Above the front entrance hangs a sign from the closed Norwich Brewery. Within a few footsteps of here you can see 6 closed pubs of Ludham.

Dog, Johnson Street, Ludham Bridge
The Dog Inn, Ludham

The Dog Inn is about 5 minutes walk from Ludham Bridge and the river Ant, on Johnson Street. There has been a pub here since at least 1689 when an entry in the church register records ‘the burial of Mary Thaxter from the Dog-house’ (Joan Snelling, Ludham, a Norfolk Village), although the present building is more recent. A free house with Wolf Straw Dog and Woodfordes Wherry when visited. The beer garden has views out towards St Benet’s Abbey where the closed Chequers pub used to stand.

Closed pubs:

Baker’s Arms
Baker's Arms Green

The Bakers Arms was an early 18th century beer house with a public bakehouse at the rear. It closed at the end of trade on Sunday 19th April 1959. It stood on the corner of Yarmouth Road and the High Street, on the right of the present shop. The building has since been demolished and the site is now Bakers Arms Green, where the village sign stands. An old photo on shows the pub with a ‘Bullards pure Ales and Stout’ sign. The pub is shown in the 1954 movie “Conflict of Wings”.

Chequers, St Benet’s Abbey
Chequers, St Benets Abbey

The Chequers once stood on the banks of the river Bure at St Benet’s Abbey. It is actually in the Parish of Horning but by land is only accessible from Ludham. The building is shown on Faden’s Map of 1797 but was much older. It burnt down in 1891 (Tim Pestell, St Benet’s Abbey) and nothing can now be seen, although some remains of the pub and other buildings exist under the soil amongst the ruins of St Benets Abbey. The images above show the curve of the river where buildings including the Chequers and the brewery to the left once stood – the model is on display in Horning Church. There are some wonderful paintings of the Chequers at Grove Farm Gallery. Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery has sketches of the interior of the Chequers in 1858, ‘whose cool recesses speak of ancient ways’ (G.C. Davies, Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk)

Rose and Crown, Staithe Road

The Rose and Crown, also known as the Crown, was a pub from at least 1752, closed by 1907. Part of the bar may still exist inside the building which is now called Crown House. There was a Post Office in the pub for over 30 years in the 19th century. It had ‘a large public room for auctions and meetings and a cellar’ (Staithe Road, Ludham Community Archive Publications)

Royal Exchange, Staithe Road
Royal Exchange

A beerhouse in the 19th century, the Royal Exchange is now a private dwelling called ‘Sunnyside’. The building is believed to date from the 1600s.

Royal Oak, Norwich Rd
The Royal Oak

A pub in the 18th century, this thatched building opposite the churchyard is now a private dwelling.

Ship Inn, Yarmouth Rd, opp. Baker’s Arms
Ship, Ludham

Discover Ludham, produced by the Ludham Community Archive Group, records that in 1794 the larger house in the row opposite Baker’s Arms Green was the Ship Inn.

Spread Eagle, Staithe Rd – Manor Gates/Croft
Spread Eagle

The Spread Eagle, a pub for just over 40 years in the late 1800s, was in a building which had previously been the vicarage (it backs on to the churchyard) and later became a temperance hotel. It is now two dwellings, Manor Gates and Manor crofts with the small former communal bake-house to the right; a former licencee was also a baker.

Earl Grey, Cambridge

This is number 60 King Street,Cambridge. Once the Earl Grey pub, more recently a betting shop, now empty. The pub, closed for more than 40 years, had planning permission to turn back into a pub (Feb 2011) but was refused a license (4th April 2011).

Earl Grey could refer to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey who was educated at Trinity College and later became Prime Minister (1830-1834). The 3rd Earl Grey, Henry George Grey, and 4th Earl Grey Albert were also at Trinity.

This two storey, slate roofed, grey gault brick building was a pub since at least the 1870s according to Sara Payne’s Down Your Street. Dead pubs dates it to 1852 when it was numbered 34 King Street. The publican in the 1920s was called Isabella Rank. The shop next door sells coffee and tea, probably Earl Grey.

Pub nicknames – The Barking Dickey

The Barking Dickey, Westlegate, Norwich
Barking Dickey

This was a 19th century pub originally called The Light Dragoon or Light Horseman.

It became known as The Barking Dickey, a Norfolk phrase for ‘singing donkey’, after the badly painted sign that looked more like a braying donkey than a horse and soldier!

It is one of only five remaining thatched houses in the city that survived the devastating fire of 1507.

Norwich Closed Pubs – Refreshers

It was said that Norwich once had ‘a pub for every day of the year, and a church for every week’.

But in 1883 Norwich actually had 552 pubs!

At the time of writing, there are around 160 open pubs in Norwich and the number is fast declining.

Refreshers Norwich

Refreshers, 1 St Giles Street

At the corner of St Giles Street and Lower Goat Lane stands a very recently closed pub, Refreshers. Rebuilt in the 1950’s, the pub, previously called The Raven, had been there since at least the 18th century and the original building since at least the 16th century.

The workman inside informed us it was now going to become a pizzeria.
Another Norwich pub is lost.