History of the Seven Stars Inn at Seisdon 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.



 

Seven Stars Inn
Seven Stars Inn

Some History of this Pub
The Seven Stars is a pub that has struggled to survive in the 21st century. I have cycled these lanes many times over the years and one day the pub will be open and another it will be closed. Licensees come and go but it would seem to be a very difficult pub with which to turn a profit. It would be a terrible loss if it were to close forever, particularly as there has been a pub on this site for 300 years 

The present building was constructed by Ansell's during the inter-war years. It is an odd pub for such a small village as the Aston Brewery chose to erect a roadhouse-style public house, quite typical of the period but a little out of sorts in the small lanes of Seisdon. The building is so obviously an Ansell's house. The brewery must have used the same architects for most of their 1930's rebuilds as they share a good deal of characteristics. Nevertheless, slowly over time, these pubs have found a small niche in the nostalgia genre. Despite undergoing an extensive refurbishment in 2001, there are still a few features from the 1930's to enjoy. The entrance lobby has a hint of art deco as does the fabulous fireplace that is the centrepiece of the bar servery.

The Seven Stars at Seisdon [c.1909]

However, despite the fact that this is a good example of a 1930's late reform building, looking at these old photographs of the original Seven Stars Inn, I wish that Ansell's had left the place alone. What a classic this would be today! Slightly ramshackle and looking every bit an archetypal village inn. I can imagine using a latch door to enter a bar with an uneven stone floor, a roaring fire in an inglenook fireplace, ceiling beams on which I'd bang my head before sliding into a wooden settle. Oh bliss.

The photograph above dates from the mid-Edwardian period and shows the pub on the corner of Fox Road and Tinkers Castle Road, the latter leading up the hill to what used to be a most curious house. Antiquaries have written that that this ridge, sometimes referred to as Apewood Castle, had "hollows cut in the ground, over which the possessors are supposed to have set their tents, so as to form one continued line of defence. The lowes in the adjoining parish of Wombourne, are perhaps the cemeteries of some Romans of rank, who were slain in an attempt to dislodge the Britons from this strong position, which is so admirably calculated by nature as well as art for a vigorous resistance."

I imagine that the 'new' pub was built behind the original Seven Stars Inn which was allowed to trade whilst the work was carried out. The site of the original pub became the car park and a small green plot at the road junction.

Note the badge for the Cyclists' Touring Club on the gable end of the old pub, suggesting that the Seven Stars Inn was a meeting place for the two-wheeled fraternity despite a similar headquarters being established at the nearby Plough Inn at Trysull. The sign below the CTC badge reads: "Seven Stars Inn, Large and Small Parties Catered For, Good Bowling Green."

Seven Stars Bowling Club [c.1912]

Bowls was a very popular pub pastime or activity in days of old. Here we can see the team that represented the Seven Stars Inn before the First World War. The licensee at this time was George Jones and perhaps he is featured in this wonderful image taken to the rear of the Seven Stars Inn. George and Catherine Jones kept the pub for seven years. Born in Wellington in 1872, George Jones had previously worked as a policeman. He was the village bobby at Oreton near Bridgnorth. Catherine hailed from Oswestry. The couple had four children living at the Seven Stars Inn. Their eldest daughter Evelyn was born in Cleobury Mortimer in 1903 so it would appear that the family lived there before moving to Oreton.

Soldier with Motorcycle and Sidecar [1914]

In this photograph we wind the clock forward a few years to darker days. The image was captured in what was a short period of optimism before news of the trenches filtered back home. Here a soldier with his sweetheart is parked outside the pub in a motorcycle and sidecar combination. Stephen Brown had recently taken over the licence of the Seven Stars Inn. A woman is serving drinks from a table outside the front door. A gate to the side of the pub states "Club Room" - apparently this was a substantial facility and hosted an array of social occasions for the local community. The advertising board on the side of the wall belonged to the auction firm of Nock and Joseland. The bills pasted onto the board are dated 1914 and advertise markets, agricultural events and steeplechase races.

Gladys and Doris Brown at the Seven Stars [c.1930]

Stephen Brown kept the Seven Stars Inn for a generation and this photograph was taken during his tenure. His daughters Gladys and Doris can be seen sitting on a bench in front of the building. Note the advertisement for Holt Ales. Stephen Brown was originally a tenant for Frank Myatt Ltd., a Wolverhampton brewery that acquired the pub around 1907. They were taken over by the Holt Brewery Company Ltd. of Aston in 1927. Consequently, this photograph was taken shortly after Stephen Brown had got used to the different beers dispensed to his customers.

The Smithy at Seisdon [c.1924]

But what of the locale around the Seven Stars Inn. The other notable buildings around the road junctions are the old smithy and the former village shop and post office. The old smithy can be seen here in the mid-1920's. The man standing in front of the old smithy is possibly Albert Oakley, the village blacksmith for many years. Born in Malvern in 1881, he was helped by his nephew Victor Spencer. His wife Louise hailed from Wednesfield. The old smithy later became a tiny manufacturing plant when it was used by Welshman Jack Turner to produce his first sports cars before he moved to larger premises in Wolverhampton. He had honed his engineering expertise during the Second World War whilst working for the Gloucester Aircraft Company.

Seven Stars and Village Shop [c.1932]

This image is looking south-westward up Tinkers Castle Road. The village shop can be seen on the opposite of the road to the Seven Stars Inn. A signboard states: "General Stores by E. H. Burns" and the store sold most essential items needed by the villagers. There is even a petrol pump on the corner of the road junction. I believe that this survived until the 1960's. This photograph was taken in the last years of the original Seven Stars Inn. The Holt's advertisement has been replaced by "Ansell's - The Better Beer" so this is post-1934, the year in which Ansell's acquired their local rivals. The Aston brewery often rebuilt old houses shortly after acquisition and the days of the original Seven Stars were numbered by the time the photographer captured this scene.

The Seven Stars Inn was in existence by 1714, when the local justices held regular monthly meetings on the premises. It was offered for sale in 1812, when it was described as 'well accustomed', with a large clubroom.

Most of the early landlords were also farmers. They needed another occupation as customers were few and far between; the Seisdon parish was very thinly populated. In the Compton Census of 1676, only 265 people were recorded in the parish, eventually reaching 500 in 1801.

Maltster and widower, John Caswell, was the licensee of the Seven Stars in the early 1830's. He was documented in the 1841 census aged 62 and he lived here with housekeeper, Elizabeth Newell, and a servant named Mary Williams. Being a maltster, Sedgley-born John Caswell probably sold homebrewed ales.

Following the death of John Caswell, the licence passed to Dudley-born George Caswell when he was 35. I am not sure of the relationship between the two, particularly as he had previously kept a pub in Dudley. Indeed, the Caswell clan kept various pubs in Dudley such as the King and Queen. Royal Exchange and Sir Robert Peel. George Caswell was described as a 44 year-old innkeeper and maltster in the 1861 census. He lived at the pub with his Derbyshire-born wife Harriet and a family of three. Also recorded in the census was a 'potboy' William Whitehead, a governess Elizabeth Stevens, and a domestic servant Mary Ann Evans.

By 1871 George Caswell farmed 120 acres and employed five men. This had increased to 158 acres by 1881. His wife Harriet died in 1878. Undaunted, he re-married the following year when he was 67. His second wife Agnes was 27 and they had a son, Joseph, born in 1880. Farmer, innkeeper, brewer and maltster George Caswell was forced into retirement after 39 years as landlord. His wife Agnes took on his duties. George Caswell, by now an invalid, had only a short retirement for he died in 1891.

At the turn of the 20th century the Seven Stars Inn was being run by George and Emma Ward, a couple who had previously run the British Oak on Wolverhampton's Willenhall Road.

The Seven Stars was taken over by Jane Serino and Marcel Johnson in December 1999. They were highly experienced in the hotel trade and tried to bring a fresh approach to the pub, specialising in fish dishes. For this they brought in chefs, James Bailey and Ian Terry, both billed as stars in the kitchen who had both worked with Jane and Marcel in the past at Tillington Hall Hotel. James was also the head chef at The Wheatsheaf in Olton.

The staff working for Jane Serino and Marcel Johnson did have an element of continuity in June Dickens. She had worked at the pub for twenty years. She came to The Seven Stars in 1979 when Dennis and Shirley Eastwood kept the pub. They were followed by German-born, Hagen Rischert who ran the place with his Derbyshire-born wife, Joy. Talking to June, they sounded like a colourful duo and kept a whole host of animals in the back garden.

Jane and Marcel took over The Seven Stars following Hagen and Joy's retirement in December 1999. They first met each other working for De-Vere Hotels - Jane was General Manager of Stafford's Tillington Hall Hotel and Marcel a Hotel Controller.
© Copyright. Posted on 22nd December 2011
Images supplied by Digital Photographic Images

and Staffordshire Past-Track.

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Licensees of this Pub
1834 - 1851 John Caswell
1851 - 1890 George Caswell
1891 - John Little
1901 - George Ward
1907 - 1914 George Henry Jones
1914 - 1944 Stephen Brown
1944 - 1957 George Gubbins
1957 - 1969 William Chilton
1969 - 1978 Anne Marie Connock
1978 - 1981 Dennis Eastwood
1981 - 2000 Hagen Rischert
2000 - Marcelle Johnson & Jane Serino

Inn Sign of the Seven Stars [2002]

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Ansell's Mirror [c.1900]

Genealogy Connections
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.

Inn Sign
Inn Sign for the Seven Stars
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Map
1900 Map showing location of the Seven Stars Inn

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Links to other Websites
Trysull and Seisdon Website

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Ansell's - The Better Beer

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Newspaper Articles
The Seven Stars at Seisdon
"A pub in South Staffordshire has closed suddenly after the landlady lost almost £100,000 in less than three years.

Fiona Coyle, who ran the Seven Stars pub in Seisdon, claimed owners Punch Taverns failed to respond to her pleas for help.

The 31-year-old landlady said Punch continued to charge “over-inflated” prices for beer despite her struggle to keep the business afloat. She said she had sunk £93,000 of her own money into the pub. “I repeatedly asked Punch for help but the most they did was to tell me to put fewer chips on the plate,” she said.

“I increased trade by 39 per cent but with the recession we had to keep prices low. We had to buy our beer from Punch at twice the levels a free house could get.

“My utilities also went up by 25 per cent - I had no choice but to close or I could have been bankrupt.”

The closure has left at least one couple without a venue for their wedding reception.

Steven Brooks, a West Midlands Police officer, was hoping to celebrate his wedding with partner Clair Thomas after tying the knot in Las Vegas on April 13.

They now face searching for a venue in the area with just a few months before the big day on April 30.

Mr Brooks said: “We had been going to the pub for almost a year and it’s a lovely, family-orientated village pub.

“We knew nothing about it being closed until we went down at the weekend and found it all shut.”

A spokesman for Punch Taverns said: “We have provided a great deal of support to our partner at the Seven Stars, from concession on rent and the highest discount band for her beer and drinks, to providing catering support to help her develop a strong food offer.

“An investment scheme was also carried out to improve the appeal of the pub and to help grow trade.

“Unfortunately, our partner has taken a decision to surrender her lease.”

The spokesman added: ”Our priority now is to re-open the Seven Stars as soon as possible.

“We are actively recruiting a new licensee who we look forward to working closely in partnership with to build a successful, sustainable business.”
"Pub closes doors as landlady loses £93k"
January 17th 2011
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Quotation
Ralph Waldo Emerson [c.1857]
“If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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