It's almost time to venture out and enjoy the delights of our wonderful historic pubs!

  Posted: 11.04.21 at 11:23 by The Editor

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With perfection of timing, occasional Thurrock Nub News columnist Susa Yates, chair of Thurrock Historical Society has delivered her latest article:-

WE are now just a day away from being able to sit in a pub garden and enjoy a drink with friends.

Essex has some wonderful old historic pubs each and every one of them has a story to tell. Sadly some of them are pubs no longer and there will be those that do not survive Covid lockdown.

One such is the Grade-II listed Punch Bowl at Church End, Paglesham which closed in January 2018. It is timber-framed with 18th and 19th century features, with a two-storey left range and three-storey right range, and double pile hipped roofs with clay tiles.

It is believed to have been a sailmaker’s in the past before becoming a public house in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is associated with a smuggler called Blyth known as ‘Hard Apple’ or ‘king of the smugglers’.

Nobody messed with Blyth as the local grocer and churchwarden he used pages of the parish registers to wrap his wares. It is said he could drink anyone under the table. It is here in the Punch Bowl that not only did he drink two glasses of wine but he ate the glasses as well to no ill effect.

One of my favourites when I am in Colchester is The George. It stands on the north side of the High Street and is Grade-II* listed. It was originally built in the 15th century has cross wings and lovely old ceiling beams and fireplaces. It is timber framed and plastered with a lovely cast iron balcony that runs the length of the 1st floor front. The food isn’t bad either.

On the opposite side of the High Street in Colchester is the delightfully half-timbered Red Lion. Originally built circa 1470 with richly ornamented late 15th century and early 16th century work. The house was converted to an Inn about 1500 with a carriage entrance in the centre. The carriage entrance to the courtyard has an archway with moulded posts. There is a rain water head dated 1716.

Many original interior features, especially fine moulded ceiling beams throughout the early 16th century part of the building, and a number of original windows. The late 15th century part of the building has carved timber work. The cellars however date from circa 1400 and therefore were part of an earlier building. The Red Lion was among the first Inns used by the London stage coaches.

A pub my father told me about is the Green Man at Navestock whose claim to fame is that it was here in 1790 that Essex County Cricket Club was formed.

The plaque commemorating Thomas Higbed

Another pub with a fabulous story is The Bell at Horndon on the Hill. Hanging up in this pub are a number of hot cross buns one for every year since 1900 when new publican Jack Turner celebrated his arrival by putting up a bun.

To maintain the sequence during the war one or two were made in concrete as an economy. In 1954 it celebrated 400 years as a licensed house by hanging a garland on the Inn sign.

The Bell is Grade II* listed. It was built late 14th century and has 15th and 16th century alterations. imber framed and plastered with some painted brick and red roof tiles. It is jettied on the north side and still has its carriage arch with projecting upper storey.

Interestingly the pub sign shows an inscription on the bell which reads Vivo Voco, Mortuos
Plango, Fulgura Frango which translated is I call the Living, I toll for the Dead, I break up
Lightning. There is a commemorative blue plaque on the wall to Thomas Higbed who was burned at the stake in the courtyard of the Bell on 26th March 1555 for his protestant faith.

The Swan Inn, Baythorne End, Birdbrook, unfortunately no longer a public house, has a very unusual story. Built in the 17th century timber framed and plastered Grade-II listed this building was the home of one Martha Blewitt who had nine husbands successively and died in 1681 outlived by her ninth hubby. It is also associated with Robert Hogan who had seven wives successively marrying the seventh one on 1st January 1739.

There are far too many historic and interesting pubs in Essex to mention them all and lots in
the Epping area tell stories of Dick Turpin, so get ready to go out and enjoy our wonderful
county while you have lunch and a glass of wine.

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