History of the Angel Inn at Alfreton in the county of Derbyshire


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Some history of the Angel Inn at Alfreton

The original Angel Inn at Alfreton was a pub of some antiquity for it was mentioned in 1577. As a result, the original building is thought to have been the town's oldest tavern. Certainly, the sign of The Angel can be traced back to the Middle Ages and is embedded in the tradition of travellers inns or hotels and their association with the church. The old building stood only a short distance from the parish church and even closer to the crossroads where many a traveller passed through Alfreton. In the golden age of coaching inns, the two main hotels involved in transport logistics and passenger comfort were the George Hotel and the Angel Inn. The former was frequented by the Royal Mail whilst the Angel Inn was the port-of-call for the Quicksilver. When the stagecoach rolled into the yard at the Angel Inn the tired horses were replaced by a fresh team, usually by an ostler employed at the inn. This procedure needed to be conducted every 10-15 miles and, depending on the journey being undertaken, passengers would order refreshments or grab something to eat whilst the ostler was busy at work.

The tenancy of the Angel Inn became available in 1844 [see below advertisement] and the sale notice reflects the importance of the old posting house. As can be seen in the advert, the pub came with a significant amount of land which meant that early publicans would also have been farmers or, at least, managed agricultural labourers to work the soil. The Angel also possessed a malthouse so perhaps the grains were also produced in-house so-to-speak. The amount of land that came with the pub was greatly reduced when the tenancy was advertised a few years later.

Advertisement for The Angel at Alfreton [1844]

The White family were the Angel Inn during the early 19th century. Robert White would later become a well-known figure in these parts as an auctioneer, and also as landlord of the Swan Hotel at Mansfield. Born at Canterbury in 1807, he spent the first seven years of his life with his parents at the Angel Inn. In 1825 he moved to Mansfield where his first home was the Green Dragon Hotel, from which place he removed to the Swan Hotel in 1850. He commenced the business of auctioneer in 1837. From about 1826 to the retirement of Colonel Wildman in 1832, Robert White was a member of the Mansfield troop of Sherwood Rangers, and always took an active interest in the welfare of that body. He died in his 69th year during 1876, his funeral being attended by a large crowd. Indeed, during the time of his interment the business of Mansfield was almost entirely suspended.

An advertisement dated September 1847 may indicate the freeholders of the Angel Inn during the early Victorian period. Applications for the "old-established, well-accustomed, and convenient commercial and market house, known by the sign of the Angel, Alfreton, with or without six acres of excellent land," were to be made to Mr. E. Mugliston, wine merchant of Chesterfield; or to Mr. Rolling, brewer of Alfreton. Born in the hamlet of Palterton, John Rolling was a successful brewer and wine merchant. He married Euphemia Jepson, a local woman, in 1831 and concentrated his business in the town. It cannot be a coincidence that George Jepson was later in charge of the Angel Inn.

George Jepson was the host during August 1875 when the members of the Pride of Alfreton, Bagthorpe district, Court 5,317, of the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society, held their anniversary at the Angel Hotel. This was not simply a supper, the usual event in other public houses, but a great gathering of the Order. Members of the Pride of Alfreton, with their banner and regalia, headed by the Alfreton Brass Band, paraded the streets of the town, and attended divine service at the Parish Church, after which a dinner was provided by George Jepson at the Angel Hotel. The afternoon was then spent with toasts and songs. George Jepson had followed in the footsteps of his father who was a maltster.

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In Kelly's trade directory published in 1881 Thomas Allen was listed as the licensee and offering Horses and Traps For Hire. He was also recorded as a farmer. He was born in Nottingham but his wife Annie hailed from the Cape of Good Hope. The couple would later run the Bowling Green Inn on Canal Street in Nottingham.

In 1895 Kelly's trade directory described the business as the Angel First-Class Family and Commercial Hotel and that William Annable was a caterer for balls, wedding breakfasts, private and public parties. The son of a Belper nail maker, he married locally-born Hannah Clay at Alfreton in December 1872. At that time he had worked in the steel industry at Sheffield. After running the Angel Inn, the couple would later manage the South Yorkshire Hotel at Keadby in Lincolnshire.

In a trade directory of 1904 the Angel Commercial Hotel was described as featuring billiards and private and public parties were catered for. Nine years later, in 1913, the local newspapers reported that "the magistrates granted a provisional licence for a cinematograph show for the large club room attached to the Angel Hotel. The applicant, who was the licensee of the hotel, said it was proposed to detach the room from the hotel and make in every way suitable for a high-class show."

In 1923 Alver Sutcliffe, landlord of the Angel Inn, landed himself in hot water when he served drinks out of hours. The publican was ordered to pay a fine of £14 18s., including costs, when found guilty of permitting drunkenness on his licensed premises. It was stated that he had sold intoxicating liquor during prohibited hours, and selling to drunken persons. William Dennis, a resident of Park Street, Alfreton, was also ordered to pay £3 1s. for being drunk on the premises, and consuming during prohibited hours. Thomas Spencer, a Justice of the Peace, who lived on Mansfield Road, was also charged with consuming, and fined £1 and 26s. costs. It was a keen policeman who was intent on charging a Justice of the Peace. His name was Sergeant Clews who had apparently seen a light in the singing room of the hotel after midnight. The room had been granted an extension until 11pm for a friendly society supper. Accompanied by Police Constable Murfin, the ardent lawman climbed up to a window from where he could see Dennis and Spencer ordering drinks from the Mrs. Sutcliffe who duly served them what looked like whiskey. Alver Sutcliffe came outside for a moment and the police asked him about the people drinking in his house. The publican said : "What people?" to which the officers made their way into the singing room to confront everyone. After all, this was the crime of the century. On entering the room Mrs. Sutcliffe quickly snatched glasses from the counter and put them under the beer pumps. The sergeant told her not to not move anything, and she replaced one glass of whiskey and soda on the counter. In the 21st century, the officer might have said "Madam, step away from the counter" in riot squad mode! Sergeant Clews told the publican's wife that he had been snooping outside for a quarter of an hour watching and seeing intoxicating drinks supplied and paid for. I can just imagine him wobbling on a dustbin clutching the window ledge whilst peering through the window. Meanwhile, the bank was being robbed. Alver Sutcliffe, along with his patrons, tried to placate the officers and invited them to join them for a quick nip. However, they were dealing with a policeman who was a stickler for the rules. The mean-spirited sergeant added to his crime-stopping success rate by charging all three men for enjoying a friendly tipple.

Prior to running the Alfred Inn, Alver Sutcliffe was, for a number of years, manager of the Swanwick Collieries. Born in 1880, he had married Pontefract-born Annie Lindley in Holy Trinity Church at Armley Hall in 1902. The couple moved to Featherstone during the Edwardian period where Alver Sutcliffe worked as an underground colliery manager. The publican died in February 1928 at Derby Royal Infirmary, following an operation. The large number of mourners that attended Featherstone Cemetery attested to the popularity of this local figure.

In July 1934 the Nottingham Evening Post reported the death of 59 year-old William Ernest Morton, the licensee of the Plough Inn at Nottingham Road in Mansfield. He had kept that pub for 25 years. He had held a licence for since the age of 21 and had formerly kept the Angel Inn at Alfreton. He was a member of the Derbyshire Licensed Victuallers' Association, and the Mansfield Association. The publican left a widow and daughter.

The licensee of the Angel Inn was mentioned in April 1950 when it was reported that Arthur John Mansfield, a 19 year-old fireman, living at 8 Ley Gardens in Alfreton, was fined 10s. and ordered to pay 4s. costs for leaving broken glass on the highway in a position likely to cause injury to persons or animals in the High Street. Mansfield was also accused of stealing a Jacobean glass, worth 6d., belonging to Mr. Thomas A. K. S. Maisey, licensee of the Angel Hotel, but this case was dismissed. Mansfield pleaded "not guilty" in both cases. A letter from Mansfield's father, Mr. A. Mansfield, stated that the shock of being accused by the police "had brought his son to his senses" and that he had ceased regularly patronising the pubs of Alfreton.

The licensee, Thomas A. K. S. Maisey, was born in Belper in January 1915 and married Dorothy Revill in his hometown towards the end of 1938. She died in 1951 in Tavistock, Devon. Thomas Maisey re-married two year later, tying the knot with Thelma Burridge at Newton Abbot. The couple later kept the Cottage Inn at Wembdon, near Bridgwater in Somerset.

When the below photograph was taken in 2003 the Angel Inn had closed down but it did re-open some time later.

The Angel at Alfreton [2003]

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Licensees of this pub

1829 - Joseph Barber
1835 - John Webster
1844 - Mr. Burn
1846 - Peter Nichol
1870 - George Jepson
1881 - Thomas Allen
1895 - William Annable
1904 - Miss Louie E. Bott
1927 - Walter German Gill
1932 - Joseph Hopkinson
1950 - Thomas A. K. S. Maisey
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

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Marilyn Monroe

"I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love."
Marilyn Monroe

Newspaper Articles

"At Alfreton Police Court, before Mr. John Hill and other magistrates, this Wednesday morning. Waiter German Gill, the licensee of the Angel Hotel, Alfreton, was fined 10s. inclusive for allowing his house to used for the purpose of betting on July 26th, and John Thomas Gill, his son, was fined a total of £4.8s. for using the premises for the purpose betting. A further charge against Richard Gill, another son and a commission agent, of using the house for the purpose of betting, was withdrawn, the two defendants mentioned previously having pleaded guilty. Mr. Bendle Moore appeared for the Chief Constable and Mr. H. R. Cleaver defended. The statement by Mr. Bendle Moore showed that a constable visited the house on various dates, and bets were taken by John Thomas Gill and telephoned to a bookmaker."
"Betting Prosecution"
Derby Daily Telegraph : August 10th 1927 Page 1.

Shipstone's Gold Star Ale

"Alfreton's oldest pub is to get a new image - and a new name. The Angel Inn, in the Market Place, which was in existence as long ago as 1577, is at present being upgraded by its owners, Shipstone's Brewery of Nottingham. Its new name when it opens in two months time? That will depend on the people of Alfreton. For Shipstone's are asking for ideas from the public - and there is a prize of 50 pints of beer for the person whose suggestion is chosen. Mr. David Jackson of Shipstone's told the Derbyshire Times this week that the pub would be closed for six to eight weeks. "It is the policy of our company to upgrade our public houses for the benefit of customers" he said. "There will be no structural changes or anything as major as that, but we have quite a few ideas, including the possibility of serving food. When the pub re-opens, it will have a new licensee, although the new host has not yet been chosen. Just how long has there been an Angel pub in Alfreton? A survey carried out in 1577 reveals that Alfreton had only one inn - and that was the Angel, on the identical site it occupies today. According to local historian, Mr. Reg. Johnson, it was the former town house of the Abbott of Beauchief, and was sold at the dissolution of the abbey. It was probably the largest, best-equipped furnished residence over a wide area, having been built to provide accommodation and service for distinguished visitors, such as abbots, bishops and noblemen. Fancy trying for that lip-smacking prize? Then send any suggestions for the new name to Mr. Jackson at Shipstone's, Star Brewery, Nottingham."
"New Image for Town's Oldest Public House"
Mid-Derbyshire Times : March 14th 1980.

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"It's Alfreton's oldest and newest pub ... The Angel in King Street, which has now re-opened with a new name - The Alfreton. There was an Angel on the same site way back in the 16th century when the first Elizabeth was on the throne of England. But the new pub is bang up-to-date - ideal for the leisure-seekers of the 'Eighties, whether they be young or not-so-young. Shipstone's Brewery of Nottingham, who have upgraded and refurbished the old inn, see it as a mini-leisure centre, complete with jukebox and games ranging from the traditional darts to the ultra-modern electronic machines. Says Area Manager Trevor Harpham, "Already The Alfreton is proving to be very popular with people of all ages. It has been attracting plenty of customers right from the opening night." Certainly The Alfreton is a welcome addition to the town's thriving public house scene. It offers food and coffee, as well as a well-stocked bar, and the plush lounge and inviting bar cater for all tastes. It was at the end of February that the old inn closed, and Shipstone's set about giving the premises a new image. Three months later, the town now has a bright new pub, worthy of its name. It stands on the busy A61, just yards from the ancient market place, and proudly offers a welcoming invitation to new comers to the town. The new host and hostess are Christopher and Sally Dewar, who have come to Alfreton from Bridlington's Greyhound Hotel."
"Goodbye Angel Hello Alfreton"
Mid-Derbyshire Times Extra : June 20th 1980 Page 11.

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