Some history of the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley in Adbaston in the County of Staffordshire


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The Brown Jug Inn closed some years ago but the building still stands on Doley Road in Bishop's Offley. In relatively recent times the pub was noted as a regular port-of-call for Ozzy Osbourne, lead singer of Black Sabbath. This was in the early 1970s when he and his first wife Thelma lived at New Inn Bank. The couple later moved to Bullrush Cottage in Butt Lane at Ranton where he was something of a hellraiser at the Hand and Cleaver, his new local.

Adbaston : Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley [c.1912]

The Brown Jug Inn can be seen here in an image taken around 1912 when Joseph Ball was the licensee. His father Thomas was also innkeeper here during the Victorian era and his son Edward would later run the tavern. Joseph Ball was both innkeeper and farmer. To the left of the photograph a cart has been parked close to the Mission Room, or All Saints' Mission Church. The building had previously served as Congregational Chapel.

Adbaston : Notice for an auction of the household furniture at the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley [1841]

John Robinson was the licensee of the Brown Jug Inn during 1840. However, as can be seen from the above notice for an auction to be held at the Brown Jug Inn during February 1841, he was in financial trouble and was forced to sell the household furniture to appease his creditors.

Adbaston : Notice for an auction of the livestock, household furniture and brewing equipment at the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley [1863]

The above notice for another auction in March 1863 was probably when Henry Jones quit the Brown Jug Inn. A similar sale of farm livestock, furniture and brewing equipment was held in 1858 when Henry Parton left the pub. Thomas Ball probably suceeded Henry Jones as he was certainly running the house during the following year when he placed the advert below in the local newspaper...

Adbaston : Shooting Competition at the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley [1864]

Thomas Ball had held an auction himself when leaving Red Greet at Sugnall, a 60 acre farm he managed with his wife Sarah. The couple had earlier kept a smaller farm at Pipe Gate in Dorrington. Sarah Ball had passed away so the move to the Brown Jug Inn marked a new chapter in the life of Thomas. The publican re-married in June 1864 to Hannah Wilding.

Bishop's Offley : Map extract showing location of the Brown Jug Inn [1880]

Joule's Mild Ale Beer Label

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An extraordinary chapter in the story of the Brown Jug Inn emerged during a matrimonial case heard on the last day of June 1896. I will simply transcribe the newspaper article that outlined this remarkable episode. "Mr. Justice Barnes had before him the case of Ellis v. Ellis. The petition was that of Mrs. Emmie Warner Ellis for restitution of conjugal rights. The respondent, John Gerard Ellis, farmer, and landlord of the Brown Jug Inn, Bishop's Offley, pleaded that his wife's conduct was such as to disentitle her the relief which she sought. Mr. Bayford, Q.C., and Mr. Priestley appeared for the petitioner, and Mr. Barnard for the respondent. The onus being upon the respondent to establish his ground for refusing to live with his wife, his case was first taken. According to the opening statement of Mr. Barnard, Mr. Ellis made the acquaintance of his wife in 1888, and in January 1894, he was married to her at the parish church in Eccleshall. In December 1893 she informed him that her uncle, Mr. Bolton, had died, and left her something like £12,000. After the marriage they went to live at the Brown Jug Inn where they resided down to October of 1895. She then told him that with her money she had taken the Royal Oak at Cheadle, and that he could manage it. She showed him letters which purported to come from the solicitor at Cheadle. She suggested that her husband should give a supper to the customers at the Brown Jug prior his going away to Cheadle. This he did, and he entertained about 60 guests, who wished good luck to the new house and landlord. Shortly after that she told her husband that the money was not to be paid for some little time. Afterwards she ordered certain repairs to the Brown Jug, which she promised to pay out of her £12,000. These repairs were done, and amounted to between and £300 and £400. It subsequently turned out that the whole story of this large sum left to her was untrue. Eventually she left the house, and took out of the till between £30 and £40, and removed some of the furniture. The wife afterwards brought an action against her husband for £140, which she alleged she lent him. That action was tried at the Staffordshire Assizes, before Mr. Justice Grantham, and there was a verdict for the defendant, with costs. Before the case for the respondent had closed it was stated that the parties had come to terms, and that they had agreed to a deed of separation. The case was put in the reserved list prior to the execution of the deed."

What a fabrication by Emmie Warner Ellis, one has to feel a little for the gullible publican. The regulars must have had a right chortle or guffaw with the gossip at the time - but at least they had a slap-up supper out of it. John Gerard Ellis must have had some egg on his face when he revealed to his patrons that he was not moving to the Royal Oak at Cheadle. Little wonder therefore that, following the divorce, he upped sticks and moved to a new area. In 1899 he emerged in the Black Country when he took over the licence of the Holly Bush Inn at Amblecote.

Adbaston : Advertisement for the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley [1908]

The Brown Jug Inn would come back under the stewardship of the Ball family, a situation that continued throughout the first half of the 20th century. Joseph Ball kept the pub with his second wife Sarah. His first wife, Annie Arkinstall, had died whilst he was running a farm at Field Cross in Sturbridge. As can be seen above, Joseph and Sarah Ball attempted to tap into the emerging trade of those venturing into the countryside in traps or charabancs.

Adbaston : Sale of Flower Show Equipment at the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley [1931]

Edward Ball succeeded as licensee of the Brown Jug Inn. He had married Eva Ebrey, daughter of Charles and Harriet Ebrey who were farmers at The Mount near Cop Mere. In 1942, a few days before Christmas, their daughter Muriel, when working as a shop assistant in a chemist's, married Robert Cheetham who was serving in the Royal Artillery. The reception was held in the Brown Jug Inn. The Cheetham's would later run the hostelry.

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Licensees of the Brown Jug Inn

1840 - John Robinson
1851 - Henry Parton
1861 - Henry Jones
1872 - Thomas Ball
1894 - John Gerard Ellis
1912 - Joseph Ball
1932 - Edward John Ball
1940 - Edward John Ball
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub. The dates of early licensees are sourced from trade directories, census data, electoral rolls, rate books and newspaper articles. Names taken from trade directories may be slightly inaccurate as there is some slippage from publication dates and the actual movement of people.

Joule's Stone Ale and Royal Stout - Fit For A King

Bishop's Offley : Former Brown Jug Inn [2009]

Related Newspaper Articles

"George Herbert Reid [74], retired registrar probate, whose home was at Deganwy, North Wales, died on Saturday while on holiday at the Brown Jug Inn. Deceased and his wife arrived at the inn on April 4th, and since he arrived had not been well. On Saturday morning he woke his wife and asked for a drop of whisky, saying that had had a heart attack and thought he "was going." Dr. G. S. Coghlan, of Eccleshall, was sent for, but Reid died before his arrival. It is understood that deceased had been in ill health for the past four years, and death being due to natural cause's, no inquest was necessary."
"Visitor's Death"
Staffordshire Advertiser : April 18th 1936 Page 5

"The wedding took place at Eccleshall Parish Church on Monday of Miss Muriel Joan Ball, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Ball, Brown Jug Inn. Bishop's Offley, and Gunner Robert Walter Cheetham, only son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cheetham, Stafford Street, Eccleshall. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. K. J. Foster, and the service was choral, with Mr. T. Cockin as organist. The bride was given away by her father and Mr. E. A. Ball [cousin of the bride] was best man. The bride was attended by a matron-of-honour, Mrs. Bruce Edwards [sister of the bridegroom] and Miss Evelyn Ball [sister of the bride]. The bride's dress was of white satin with veil and coronet, and she carried a bouquet of bronze carnations. The bridesmaid and matron-of-honour were attired in mauve lace dresses with veils and Juliet caps to match, and they carried bouquets of pink carnations. After the ceremony the reception was held at the Brown Jug Inn."
Staffordshire Advertiser : December 26th 1942 Page 6

Adbaston : Sponsored Walk from the Brown Jug at Bishop's Offley [1975]

"Locals at the Brown Jug pub at Bishop's Offley, near Eccleshall, worked up a real thirst for their Sunday lunchtime drink this week. Not a pint was pulled until every member of a 25-strong team of regulars had completed a 10-mile sponsored walk. One of the locals was so keen he padded along the route through Eccleshall, Sugnall, Croxton, Wetwood and Greatwood to arrive at finishing post 50 minutes before opening time. The walk was held in aid of funds for the Offley Hay Over-60s Club. All of the walkers completed the course and organisers hope to collect about £200 in sponsor money. Pictured cutting the tape at the start of the walk is Brown Jug landlady Peggy Cheetham. Her husband Bob is pictured right, holding he tape."
"Walking Up a Sunday Thirst"
Staffordshire Advertiser : February 7th 1975 Page 9

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Related Newspaper Articles

"On Saturday last, immediately after Mr. Collis had taken the oaths as the newly-elected coroner, he left Stafford to hold an inquest at the Brown Jug Inn, Bishop's Offley, on the body of Joseph Bennett, sheep dealer, of Maer Heath, who had been found dead on the previous Tuesday. The deceased, who was 54 years of age, had been from home on business, and his return was expected on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, the 9th instant, about twenty minutes past ten o'clock, he called at the house of Joseph Wright James, publican, of Shebdon, and asked for a glass of ale and a paper of tobacco, which were supplied to him. He was then driving a trap, and was quite sober. About a quarter after eleven o'clock the same evening, Mr. Philip Henry Morris, corn dealer, of Market Drayton, was returning with his nephew from Fernhill, when he saw something in a ditch about half-a-mile from Bishop's Offley, getting out to ascertain what it was, he found a horse lying on its back In the ditch, and a trap turned upside down, and underneath the body of the deceased Joseph Bennett, the back part of the cart resting on his head. As soon as possible the body was got from underneath the trap, but life was quite extinct, the neck being broken. Nothing had been taken from the pockets of the deceased, and there were no marks along the road which would indicate that death had resulted from any other cause than that of an accident. The jury accordingly returned a verdict to that effect."
"Inquest by Mr. Collis"
Staffordshire Advertiser : July 20th 1861 Page 4

"Jack Shaw, aged 28, of "Trelawn," Sutherland Drive, Newcastle, was fined £3 and ordered to pay £3 5s. 0d. costs when he was summoned at Eccleshall Police Court yesterday for driving without due care and attention. He pleaded Not Guilty. Prosecuting, Mr. H. C. C. Collis said an accident occurred on the Eccleshall - Cheswardine road at Offley Rock at 10-20 p.m. on May 7th. Shaw left the Brown Jug Inn at Bishop's Offley, and, after taking a left-handed bend 800 yards away, ran into the hedge-bank on his off-side. Returning to his correct side, he next travelled for 29 feet on the grass verge, narrowly missing a telegraph pole, and finally again went back on his wrong side, where he collided with the wall of a house. After some time he managed to free the car and drove away in a zlg-zag manner. In a statement to the police, continued Mr. Collis, defendant said he was driving at 35 miles an hour when he skidded on the loose surface and was rendered unconscious by the impact. He stated that he had nothing but lemonade at the Brown Jug, but witnesses who found the car after the collision would say that his breath smelt of drink. Mr. A. Worthington [defending] protested at this suggestion, and said he could have produced witnesses to prove that Shaw had nothing but lemonade. The Chairman [Major W. Moat, O.B.E.] said the Bench were entitled to hear the whole of the facts. John Marsden of Offley Rock, said when he saw defendant in his car after the accident he appeared to be drunk and tried to drive his car through the wall. Mrs. Beatrice Marsden declared that Shaw was "ever so drunk" and made a terrible noise trying to drive his car from the wall. She considered he was not fit to be on the road. Shaw told the Bench that he had known the proprietoress of the Brown Jug since he was a boy and visited her frequently. He had had no intoxicants since lunch, and drank only minerals at the Brown Jug. Defendant repeated his explanation that in taking the bend he skidded on the loose surface and hit the wall. His chin struck the steering wheel, and he was knocked out. He remembered seeing no-one, and as soon as he came round he reversed his car from the wall and drove home steadily to attend to his injuries. The Chairman said there was no doubt in the magistrates' minds that Shaw was guilty of careless driving. He would be fined £3, with £3 5s. 0d. costs, and his licence would be endorsed."
"Car That Ran Into House"
Staffordshire Sentinel : July 16th 1937 Page 9

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