History of the Vine Inn at Packmores, Warwick in the county of Warwickshire.


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Some history of the Vine Inn

The Vine Inn was renamed the Bunch of Grapes around 1991 and spent the fag end of its existence under that inn sign. The Bunch of Grapes, which was considered a traditional community pub, closed in the new millennium and was demolished in 2012 for a new housing development. It is easy to determine where the building stood as an ancient footpath that ran alongside the eastern boundary of the building remains.

Warwick : Bunch of Grapes on Vine Lane [2009]

Dating from 2009, this photograph shows the Bunch of Grapes towards the end of its life. It was looking a bit untidy, had lost some lettering and surrounded by weeds. This latter element would surely sadden the Victorian families who took great pride of the plot on which the tavern stood. Note the ornate cast-iron inn sign above the front door of the pub.

Warwick : Inn Sign of the Vine Inn on Vine Lane [© Robin Stott 2009 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence]

The Vine is a popular inn sign around the UK but the name appears to have particular significance here in The Packmores. In the below advertisement for an auction to be held in November 1874, there are a number of properties in The Packmores that boasted an excellent vinery ....

Warwick : Advertisement for an auction of properties at The Packmores [1874]

The Vine Inn was one of the early buildings to be erected in the area known as The Packmores. In medieval times the area, featuring a park and fishponds, was part of land belonging to the castle. Gradually the meadows became rich pasture land, the profits of which went to the leaseholder Robert Throckmorton in the 16th century. Towards the end of the 18th century the meadows, which had reverted to the manor, consisted of 21 rectangular closes. An increase in the population of Warwick led to overcrowding in the town and poor sanitation. Replacing the puppets of the Earl of Warwick, an elected town council was introduced in the 1830s and provided the impetus for development in 'the suburbs.'

There were two major changes to the landscape on the northern fringe of The Packmores. The Warwick Union Workhouse was erected in 1837-9. Ten years later the Guardians of the Poor Law Union erected a hospital. By the time that institution was completed the Vine Inn was up-and-running and kept by Thomas and Susan Walter. In the late 1840s there was only a scattering of buildings erected on The Packmores, most of which benefited from the legacy of previous land use, thus boasting fine gardens, orchards and, as can be seen from the above advertisement, bountiful vineries. It is little wonder that a parallel thoroughfare should be called Paradise Street and no surprise that this tavern should be called the Vine Inn.

Although there was only moderate development along Vine Lane during the 19th century, the tranquillity of this pocket of paradise was to change when the railway came across the meadows and separated The Packmores from the town. It was Warwick's trades people who urged the Earl of Warwick and the town council to press for the railway as they feared business would be lost to nearby Leamington. It was in 1847 that the council gave its assent to the plans for the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway, construction work commencing in 1851.

Warwick : Paradise Street [c.1910]

Even closer to the Vine Inn was the large engineering works operated by Lampitt & Son, millwrights and ironfounders. This business was later acquired by William Glover and Sons. Despite the noise, this factory would have brought welcome custom to those running the Vine Inn during the late 19th century. Paradise Street was more developed than leafy Vine Lane and featured rows of housing. I am not sure exactly when the thoroughfare was named Vine Lane - in an 1872 trade directory lists the Vine Inn at Paradise Place. The first directory that seems to list Vine Lane is dated 1884.

Warwick : Map extract showing the location of the Vine Inn at Packmores in Warwick [1903]

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Returning to the late 1840s and the Walter family. Born in 1813, Thomas was a carver by trade but if you are curious how he became a publican here at The Packmores look no further than his marriage to Susan Bass in 1842. She was the daughter of John Bass who was an inn-keeper at Saltisford. Although she took up dress-making, she spent much of her formative years in a public-house. In addition to getting used to running the Vine Inn, the couple had a young daughter named Emily born around the same time. The Walter's employed Selina Birchill as a servant.

Advertisement for Charles Palfrey as Landscape and Jobbing Gardener of Warwick [1879]

Thomas Walter continued to run the Vine Inn with his second wife Harriet. He was succeeded by George Griffin who kept the pub until 1878. It was in October of that year that the licence of the Vine Inn was transferred to Charles Palfrey. He had previously kept the Bell Inn at Lapworth where he combined his role as publican with that of gardener. As can be seen in the advertisement above, he continued to combine these roles when he kept the Vine Inn.

The son of an agricultural labourer, Charles Palfrey was born in 1837 at Bishop's Lydeard in Somerset. He had moved to the Midlands and was working as a gardener at Edgbaston when he married Taunton-born Sarah Bale Hartnell in October 1861. However, the marriage was conducted at Cheddon Fitzpaine in Somerset where she was in service to the Barrowforth family. She was the daughter of the gardener William Hartnell so it is possible that he worked alongside Charles Palfrey and this is how the couple met. After a spell living at Knowle, the couple, along with four children, moved to Lapworth by 1871. Sarah Palfrey died here in 1882. This probably caused him to give up the pub and the licence was transferred to David Bickley of the Red Horse in December 1882.

After leaving the Vine Inn, Charles Palfrey re-married to Sarah Faulkner in 1884, by which time he was recorded as a florist. In what was a varied career, the publican had become a grocer and provision dealer by the end of the Victorian period and had a shop in Hockley Street in Birmingham. When he died in 1910 he was documented as a refreshment house keeper.

David Bickley's interest in the Vine Inn only lasted a short period and in December 1884 he took over the licence of the Red Lion at Monk Street. By 1888 he was back at the Red Horse in Crompton Street, a tavern where he combined his role as publican with that of rope and twine manufacturer. Born in Hatton in 1835, he was formerly a policeman in Warwick so was used to dealing with drunks and roughnecks. This was in the days of the Borough Police and he would patrol the town donning a silk-top hat. When the Borough Police amalgamated with the County Police, the officers were given the option of remaining in service or retiring on a small pension. David Bickley chose the latter option and went into the licensed trade.

The policeman had married Sarah Hazelwood at All Saints' Church in 1857. One of the couple's sons, Arthur Dingley Bickley, had a successful teaching career. At one time he was second master at the Blind School in Edgbaston and afterwards served as headmaster at Bristol Blind School. Eventually he became headmaster of Amblestone Council School, Pembrokeshire, where he remained for 19 years. On his retirement he returned to his hometown.

The licence of the Vine Inn was transfereed to Worthy Coole in October 1887. Born in the Cotswolds at South Cerney, he had previously worked as a butler when living at Swalcliffe near Banbury. He moved into the Vine Inn with his Wiltshire-born wife Ann and three children. However, within six months he passed away in April 1888 at the age of 39. The licence of the Vine Inn subsequently passed to his wife.

Advertisement for the Vine Inn at The Packmores [1889]

I suspect that the Vine Inn was, by the time of this advertisement, owned by Lucas, Blackwell & Arkwright. The Vine Inn was certainly acquired by the brewery and this would seem to be the period when they became involved with the tavern. Note that the advertisement states that the house was tied for ales. The census of 1891 records Coventry-born Louisa Wade as a manager rather than tenant.

Advertisement for Lucas, Blackwell & Arkwright of Leamington

Stephen and Ann Thorpe had kept the Coach and Horses at Stratford-on-Avon for many years before running the Vine Inn during the mid-1890s. The family would later move to Birmingham but Stephen Thorpe was working as a general labourer rather than publican.

The licensee of the Vine Inn at the end of Queen Victoria's reign was Frederick Horne. Born at Fawley in Buckinghamshire he went into service as a footman to Sir Henry William Dashwood who became Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and resided at Duns Tew. In September 1868 he married Maria Wilkins in her home village of Lighthorne. She had also been in service so their paths probably crossed when Frederick Horne was travelling with his master. Not long after they had married, the Horne's moved to Warwick and took over at the Hare and Hounds in Barrack Street.

Frederick and Maria Horne kept the Hare and Hounds for over two decades. It was in Barrack Street that he 'cultivated' an interest in fruit and flowers, becoming a nurseryman and opening retail premises in Smith Street. The latter was managed by his son, also named Frederick. The publican became the President of the Licensed Victuallers' Friendly and Protection Society for Warwick. He also dabbled with public office and, in 1888, sought election to the town council. In April 1898, not too long after moving to the Vine Inn, Maria Horne died.

Stourbridge : No.48 Brook Street - Home of Frederick Horne in 1906

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Widower Frederick Horne continued to run the Vine Inn until the early Edwardian period when he moved to Stourbridge where his son William was running a grocery shop. He lived close to the shop at No.48 Brook Street. It was from here that the 64 year-old fell ill and he died at Selly Oak hospital in June 1906.

In June 1902 the licence of the Vine Inn was transferred from Frederick Horne to Thomas Henry Payne. The wheelwright and his wife Eliza were already neighbours of the property so were more than familiar with the public-house. The couple seemed to be busy having children in the Edwardian period. Eliza gave birth to five children to add to the two they already had. And all on top of moving house again for they moved to the Millwright Arms at Coten End by 1905.

Warwick : Agency for W. E. Smith's Mineral Waters at the Vine Inn at Packmores [1905]

Thomas Bradley and Mary Ann became agents for W. E. Smith's Prize Medal Mineral Waters when running the Vine Inn during the mid-Edwardian period. However, the couple only stayed for a brief spell before moving to the Green Dragon in Market Place. It was whilst running the latter that Thomas Bradley died at a very young age in March 1915.

The quick turnarounds came to end in the mid-Edwardian period when James Walter took over as licensee. He would stick at it for two decades. Like his father, also named James, he first became a wood carver. Indeed, his father was for 36 years employed on the Warwick estate as a wood carver before becoming a publican. He enjoyed great success at the White Lion, Saltisford, the Park Tavern on Union Road, and also the Railway Inn on Coventry Road. Meanwhile James Walter jnr., after marrying Nottingham-born Mary Elizabeth Beasley in February 1898, moved to Lichfield to work as a wood carver. Once the couple moved back to Warwick they stayed put, even after retirement.

In August 1911 James and Mary Walter hosted the seventh annual flowers, fruit and vegetables in connection with the Vine Inn. This was perhaps a legacy of when Frederick Horne kept the house. A marquee was raised next to the public-house and the show lasted from Saturday to Monday, the local press noting that "the exhibits were well above the average and were worthy of a much larger show." The judges made special mention of a dish of plume grown by Mrs. Hull, an old lady of 93. The show was rounded off by a dance on the Monday evening with the Warwick Town Band.

Warwick : The Vine Inn at Packmores [c.1932]

Frederick Kightley was the licensee of the Vine Inn when the above photograph was taken. The legacy of the annual flower show is evident and the front of the pub looks terrific. Note that the cast-iron pub sign with the bunch of grapes is hanging above the front door. The Vine Inn was taken over by Ansell's Brewery Ltd. when they acquired the historic Leamington brewery of Lucas & Co. Ltd. in 1928. The Vine Inn was one of more than 120 tied houses to be taken over in the business deal.

Born in Northampton in 1891, Frederick Kightley was also the son of a publican. His formative years were spent at the Railway Inn, a Lucas & Co. house at Leamington kept by his parents George and Emily Kightley. Frederick later helped his widowed father run the Althorpe Arms at Leamington. He married Lucy Amelia in 1925 and soon after the couple were running the Vine Inn. His brother Sam was also a publican and was licensee of The Greyhound on Emscote Road. In addition to the Vine Inn, Frederick Kightley also operated a refreshments bar at the Warwick Sale Yard. During World War 2 he was assigned as an A.R.P. warden.

Following the war, William Beetlestone became the licensee of the Vine Inn. Growing up in Hockley in Birmingham, when he left school he was apprenticed to a jeweller. He married Emily Bacchus in January 1931. Now, if ever there was a person destined to run a pub called The Vine it has be somebody called Bacchus, the Roman god of agriculture and wine whose plants were vines!

Fostering successful teams in darts and dominoes, William and Winifred West were running the Vine Inn during the early 1950s.

Licensees of the Vine Inn

1849 - Thomas Walter
1875 - George Griffin
1878 - 1882 Charles Palfrey
1882 - 1887 David Bickley
1887 - 1888 Worthy Coole
1888 - Ann Coole
1891 - Louisa Wade
1892 - 1897 Stephen Alfred Thorpe
1897 - 1902 Frederick Horne
1903 - Thomas Henry Payne
1905 - Thomas Bradley
1907 - James Walter
1927 - Frederick John Kightley
1948 - William Thomas Henry Beetlestone
1950 - William Arthur Cecil West
1956 - James Lawton
Note : this is not a complete list of licensees for this pub.

Ansell's - The Better Beer

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Genealogy Connections

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Related Newspaper Articles

"On Tuesday evening the annual supper in connection with the Excelsior Cricket Club took place at the Vine Tavern, Packmores, Mr. Savage the chair. A capital spread was served by the Host, Mr. D. Bickley, in a large marquee erected for the occasion. This annual gathering was held earlier than usual this season to celebrate the departure of the Captain, Mr. John Beckett, who, together with Messrs. H. Capers and Thomas Simmonds, jun., is about to leave for Australia. On the removal of the cloth the usual loyal toasts were proposed and duly honoured, the toast of the evening being, "Health, long life, and success to our departing members." One interesting feature of the proceedings, which were interspersed with songs, was the presentation of a bat to Mr. Frederick Savage, of Woodbine Street, Milverton, to Mr. George Parsons, Mill Street, for making the highest average of runs during the past season. In the course of the evening the Secretary stated that of the 16 matches played last season 13 were won by the Excelsior teams."
"Cricket Club Supper"
Warwick & Warwickshire Advertiser : Octber 6th 1883 Page 5

"A large gathering of membere and friends assembled at the Vine Inn on Thursday evening at the Guinea Club supper. A smoking concert followed. Mr. A. Hadley presided, and was supported by. Mr. J. Hewitt [secretary of the club]. The toast "Success to tbe Vine Inn Guinea Club" coupled with the name of tbe Secretary, having been duly honoured, Mr. J. Hewitt suitably replied. The Chairman, proposing the health of the Host aod Hostess, offered his congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Walter upon tbe splendid manner in which the supper had been arranged. The toast was received with musical honours."
"Guinea Supper Club"
Warwick & Warwickshire Advertiser : May 13th 1911 Page 5

"Frederick John Kightley, Vine Inn, Packmores, Warwick, was fined 2s. 6d. for not having a dog under proper control in Woodhouse Street, on January 24th. P.C. Wardman said that the dog was in the street, and he took it to the Police Station, where the defendant claimed it. He said that the dog was shut in the kitchen, and someone must have let it out."
"Dog Not Under Control"
Warwick & Warwickshire Advertiser : January 30th 1926 Page 4

Beer is Best Poster

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