History of the Bell Inn at Trysull in the county of Staffordshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.


Bell Inn
Bell Inn

Some History of this Pub
Located in the heart of Trysull village, this pub stands next to the medieval church of All Saints. Indeed, it is because of the pub's close proximity to the church that it was named the Bell Inn. Thought to have been erected on the site of an older hostelry, the building dates from the eighteenth century.

The Bell Inn at Trysull at the start of motoring's golden age

This wonderful photograph shows the pub at the start of motoring's golden age. The Bell Inn no doubt was a popular port-of-call for those heading out of the Black Country and, in particular, Wolverhampton. A small sports car can be seen to the left of the photograph. It was not, however, the only form of transport in the picture; a man is posing with his bicycle and, next to him, is a woman with a pushchair. The licensee at this time was James Whitehouse - his name can be seen emblazoned above the front entrance. That may be his wife stood at the door. A plaque on the wall shows that the pub was selling beers from Bass and Worthington's.

Although trading since the late 1700's, and in the absence of research material, the first known licensee of the Bell Inn was locally-born Benjamin Richards who was documented at the pub in 1829 along with his wife Ann who hailed from Willenhall. The couple were helped by their daughter Ann who was born in the village around 1821.

Benjamin Richards was also a gardener and probably grew produce on the extensive land that belonged to the property. He is also accredited with brewing the Bell Ale which, to satisfy the palate of the South Staffordshire locals, would have been a dark strong brew. Being next to the church, Benjamin Richards would have produced many seasonal or celebration brews such as All Saints Ale, Whitsun Ale and Bride's Ale, all of which would have used ecclesiastical malt. Incidentally, the old village malthouse stands a few yards from the Bell Inn.

By 1860, Benjamin Richards had passed on and son-in-law, John Aingworth, became the landlord. The son of a mill operator, he was born in nearby Enville. He had married Ann Richards in 1838. He had to contend with his mother-in-law on the premises who was well into her seventies. His Birmingham-born nephew Charles Edwards also lived at the Bell Inn. The Aingworth's employed Hannah Evans as a servant. She originated from the Shropshire village of Worfield. John Aingworth died in 1868, aged 54 and the licence passed to his widow Ann. I think she may have re-married in 1872 at Kidderminster.

William Dwight was running the Bell Inn by the time of the 1881 census in which he was described as a Chelsea Pensioner, victualler, and farmer of two-and-a-half acres. Born in the Buckinghamshire town of Chesham in 1820, he kept the pub with his wife Matilda [nee Ruggins], a woman considerably younger and who also originated from Chesham. The couple had five daughters and two sons living on the premises. The Dwight's were tenants at the Bell Inn; the owner of the property in 1871 was Mary Perry.

William and Matilda Dwight later moved to a cottage close to the Heathton Gate pub in the parish of Claverley. The couple were succeeded by the widow Elizabeth Wood. Aged 28, she had a one year-old daughter who was born in Ironbridge. She was helped by her mother-in-law, Ann Wood along with one servant.

Nottinghamshire-born Jane Monk took over the licence of the Bell Inn following the death of her husband Samuel. Running the pub for over a generation, she remained as landlady until 1928. The photograph above was taken shortly after her time at the Bell Inn.

The Bell Inn remained a free house until the 1950's when the owner, Harold Roy Jenkins, sold to William Butler's Springfield Brewery in Wolverhampton. Subsequent takeovers led to the pub being run by Bass before it was acquired by Black Country Brewers, Holden's, on 22nd April 1993.

Regulars enjoying a pint at the Bell Inn at Trysull

The pub's first tenant under Holden's was Keith Walker who later moved to another great Holden's pub - The Great Western in Wolverhampton. He was followed by Tony Probert. Although from Wolverhampton, he previously had a joinery business in Cardiff, a firm he ran in partnership with Ray Walker who also came to work here at The Bell Inn. Sadly, Tony died aged just 44 in 2000 but is fondly remembered by those who knew him. Wombourne-born Tracey Leek, who had worked at the Bell Inn for eight years with both Keith and Tony before taking over the running of the place on March 20th 2000.

Under the stewardship of Lorraine and Steven Berrow, the Bell Inn won the CAMRA Dudley/South Staffordshire and Staffordshire Pub of the Year awards in 2010.
© Copyright. Images supplied by Digital Photographic Images.


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Licensees of this Pub
1829 - c.1860 Benjamin Richards
c.1860 - 1868 John Aingworth
1868 - 1872 Ann Aingworth
1872 - 1889 William Dwight
1889 - Emily Griffiths
1890 - 1895 Elizabeth Wood
1895 - 1900 Samuel Monk
1900 - 1928 Jane Monk
1928 - 1931 James Whitehouse
1931 - 1938 Henry Albert Atkins MBE
1938 - 1954 George H. Meakin
1954 - 1956 Mary Jenkins
1956 - 1963 Harold Roy Jenkins
1963 - 1977 James B. O'Shaugnessy
1977 - 1977 William Martin Inkson
1977 - 1982 John William Burley
1982 - 1982 John Martin Raybould
1982 - 1986 Paul Gilhooley
1986 - 1986 Graham B. Ramsbottom
1986 - 1993 Philip John Humphries
1993 - 2000 Keith Waker
2000 - Tracey Leak

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1950's Playing Card issued by William Butler's

Genealogy Connections
"A most interesting site! I have a particular interest in this listing as Samuel Monk and Jane Monk [née Hardstaff] were my great grandparents. We have a photograph similar to the one on your website - I think one of the wee girls is my grandmother. Anyway, I just want to confirm the dates you mention. My records show Samuel dying in 1896 - clearly I will have to tweak things if the 1900 date is correct. Jane was born in 1839 so if the 1928 date is correct, she would have been licence holder at 89 years old. Presumably one of the sons would have been running the place, but I can't begin to guess which one.
Phil Holmes, New Zealand 24th June 2012

I see from the 1891 census that Samuel and Jane Monk moved to the Bell Inn from Wombourne where Shepshed-born Samuel worked as a gamekeeper. No surprise there really as his father was also a gamekeeper. I also think he died in April 1896, suggesting an error in transcribing the licence register or simply that it remained in his name until a later brewster’s sessions, though the latter is unlikely as they were generally quite strict on these matters. Kieron

If you have a genealogy story or query regarding this pub you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

Map showing the Bell Inn

William Butler

Links to other Websites
Trysull and Seisdon Website

Worthington's Pale Ale in a Bottle

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Newspaper Articles
Lorraine and Steven Berrow toast their awards
Double celebration - managers Lorraine and Steven Berrow toasting their CAMRA Dudley/South Staffordshire and Staffordshire Pub of the Year awards.

"Corks have been popping at a pub in an idyllic South Staffordshire village which has won two CAMRA awards. The Bell Inn, in Trysull, near Wolverhampton, has been recognised as the best pub in both the district and the county. Managers Steve and Lorraine Berrow, who live in the village, were presented with certificates after being nominated by several regulars. Lorraine, aged 40, said today: “We didn’t even know we had been nominated until we had been told we had won, so it was a huge surprise, especially the county-wide award.” “These are the first awards the pub has won since me and my husband took over as managers two-and-a-half years ago, so it is a great feeling.” Steve added that the pub’s staff were passionate about real ale and were keen to support local breweries. He added: “We are a Holden’s pub, which is a Black Country brewery, and we also stock Batham’s Bitter as well as a range of other local beers. We do stock beers from other parts of the country but we prefer to support local beers.” Steve said he was “well pleased” with the accolades, and said both certificates would take pride of place inside the pub.”
"Two awards by CAMRA after villagers' praise"
by Matthew Viney in
Express and Star
August 10th 2010
© Copyright. Image supplied by Express and Star

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