Some history of the New Inn at Cropthorne in the County of Worcestershire
The New Inn can be seen here fronting the turnpike road. Today there are fewer trees to the north of the pub, the area immediately beyond the premises being occupied by W. J. Rowlings Nurseries Ltd. The pub was once kept by market gardeners so I suspect that this parcel of land was worked by the people running the New Inn. To the north-east of the New Inn was Fieldbarn Farm which, in more recent times, is the site of a small industrial estate.
The New Inn can be seen here in 1968 when the frontage bore lettering of Hunt Edmunds and Co. Ltd, despite the fact that the Banbury-based company had been acquired by Bass, Mitchell's and Butler's three years before this photograph was taken. A Vauxhall Victor saloon car is parked in front of the entrance. To the right is a Ford Cortina Mk.1 estate. This is parked in front of an extension to the building. This is possibly part of work undertaken in 1907. In February of that year the proprietor, J. G. Baker, presented plans of alterations to be made at the New Inn to the magistrates at the Pershore Petty Sessions. He told the Bench that it was intended to build a club-room for a Sick and Dividend Club for the villages of Cropthorne and Charlton. He remarked that there were already 70 or 80 members, and there was no club-room in which they could meet. The plans showed that the bar and kitchen would be enlarged, and the new room would be above the bar and kitchen. Superintendent Cope said he had inspected the premises, and reported that "the alterations would mean a very great improvement, as the living accommodation there at the present time was very scant." Accordingly, the magistrates approved the plans.
With its position on the turnpike road, the New Inn hosted a fair number of auctions in the early 19th century. One of the earliest notices I have seen advertised a sale held in September 1810 in which a valuable flock of Leicestershire sheep and Herefordshire cattle went under the hammer, the animals being selected from the livestock of Mr. Oldaker of Fladbury, Mr. Penrice of Salford, Mr. Freeman of Hitcoate, and Mr. Pratt of New Fields. Another sale, held in July 1839 was for parcels of land once held by Charles Shepherd who had passed away. One lot was for pasture land or orchading situate at Ale House Close.
The Stratton family were running the New Inn by the early 1840s. I suspect that they were in residence in 1831 as the birth certificate of Emily Stratton records that her father was the victualler Charles Stratton. The farmer and publican was born around 1807. He was the grandson of Matthias Stratton, Esq. of Evesham, who was upwards of 40 years a member of the Corporation of Evesham, during which he filled the office of Chief Magistrate several times. Charles Stratton married Ann Knight at Badsey in January 1831. The couple almost had an enforced separation during the following year but Charles Stratton was acquitted on the charge of receiving stolen goods. His grandfather was still alive at this time so was probably embarrassed that a member of the clan appeared in the dock.
Charles Stratton was noted for his animal husbandry. In February 1842 it was reported that, over the winter, he had "fed a fine stag pig and sow, which produced the extraordinary weight of 109st. 71bs. ; the former animal [having been bred by Mr. Stratton] when slaughtered by Mr. Calder, butcher, of Bengeworth, on the 25th January, was only thirty months old, and weighed 57st. lb., or 685lbs. ; and the latter, a cross of the Berkshire breed, after producing a progeny of 106 young ones, was slaughtered the 16th February, and weighed 52st. 21bs., or 626lbs." It was stated that, for symmetry of form and smallness of bone, the pigs were acknowledged by all agriculturists and others who had seen them whilst living, to have been scarcely equalled.
One Sunday evening in mid-December 1843, between six and seven o'clock, Charles Stratton was sitting in his kitchen, enjoying some conversation with some of the locals, when he caught sight of a man going upstairs. The publican instantly gave an alarm, and requested some of the party to accompany him in search of the intruder. However, rather strangely, although there were three or four in company, they all refused. After much solicitation and consequent delay, the men summoned up the resolution to ascend the stairs. By this time the intruder had retreated to the garret, bolted the door from the inside, and made his escape by climbing out of the window, before he jumped down on the roof of the stable. He was afterwards seen to leap some hurdles, and run from the house, by a boy named Ansell, who described him as having a white jacket on. Fortunately for the Stratton family, the rapscallion did not succeed in stealing anything and making off with the booty, although he had made preparation for such a deed, with a large drawer having been taken from a chest and placed on the bed, which contained plate and loose money, besides a purse of twenty sovereigns. In his hurry to escape, the brass-necked burglar left empty-handed. Ann Stratton had not long been upstairs putting the children to bed, when everything was in its proper place.
Charles Stratton must have got into a financial pickle in the 1840s. He seemingly dug himself out of his hole and, in July 1845, the publican was discharged at the Insolvent Debtor's Court. Just a few weeks before the licence of the New Inn was transferred from him to Joseph Knight. The Stratton and Knight families were intertwined in the 19th century. Members of each clan would be involved at the New Inn, along with the Bell Inn up the road. In addition to holding the licence of the New Inn, Joseph Knight was also a carpenter and timber merchant. His son was a coal merchant and may have traded at Cropthorne Wharf near the mill.
The house was returned to the Stratton family as tenants by the early 1850s. Licensed victualler, Charles Stratton was even the census enumerator in 1851. The publican possessed pretty good handwriting. He died, aged 50, in October 1862. Widow, Ann Stratton, remained at the New Inn until the autumn of 1863. This may have been as a consequence of the freehold changing hands. She moved to the Bell Inn, the licence of the New Inn being transferred to James Mills in October 1863. The notice of the sale held on the premises on July 1st, 1863, provides details of the New Inn during this period [see above]. The auction was one of several lots being sold at auction that afternoon. Lot 1 was for Freeland Farm occupied by George Tarrant. Lot 3 was for a parcel of land adjoining the New Inn, known as Big Gore and Little Gore.
There was much excitement at the New Inn during November 1867. As part of his visit to Wood Norton, the Prince of Wales participated on a hunt with the Worcestershire fox hounds, the meet gathering at Cropthorne after being entertained by Francis Holland, the village squire. After partaking in the nosh, the royal party proceeded to a field near the New Inn where they were met by the greatest medley of vehicles, horsemen and pedestrians. The field included nearly all the leading agriculturalists of the neighbourhood. After killing a couple of foxes, the party trotted back to the field where they were cheered by the assembled multitude. The return to Wood Norton was made by the shorter route of Fladbury Ferry. Trade at the New Inn on this day must have been considerable.
The licence of the New Inn changed quite frequently during the 1860s, never a good sign. Francis Reynolds was here for a couple of years before handing over to the Winchcombe-born farmer-publican, William Cormell. He and his wife, Hannah, had previously kept a beer house at Bredon. He was fined for allowing drunkenness on the premises not long after his arrival. In November 1869 the licence of the New Inn was transferred from him to Henry Job Walker, who had married the publican's daughter. So, whilst Henry and his new-bride, Mary Anne, moved into the pub, William and Hannah, who were getting on in years, shuffled off to the nearby Smokey Farm which was kept by their son Frederick.
Hailing from Ashchurch, the son of a blacksmith, Henry Walker, also bashed an anvil whilst running the New Inn with his wife Mary Anne. This would have been a key ancillary service for travellers on the old turnpike road, along with serving the needs of the villagers. However, market gardening was seemingly more profitable so he and Mary Anne moved into that field whilst running the New Inn at the end of the 1870s. In a completely different career move, the couple, along with their daughter Laura, moved into the village to run the post-office. A man with many hats, Henry Walker would also work as bailiff to Francis D. Holland of Cropthorne Court. The resident of the Manor House had first been impressed by Henry and Mary Anne Walker when he invited his tenants to a dinner at the New Inn in February 1873. It was reported that "the repast was served up in excellent style by the host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Walker, whose catering was spoken of in high terms." During their time at the New Inn, the house was a regular meeting venue for Earl of Coventry's hounds.
George and Harriet Whiley were running the New Inn by 1886 and they would remain in charge of the house for the rest of the 19th century. Born in West Bromwich, he married Harriet Jones at Dudley in February 1866. She hailed from Cradley so the pub had a pair of yam-yams running the place during the late Victorian years. George Whiley was a furniture dealer before making the move to the Vale of Evesham.
Whilst the Bell Inn held sparrow shooting events, George Whiley invited competitors to point their guns at pigeons at the New Inn. One such event was held in January 1892 during which a good number of spectators and competitors attended - good for sales but not so good for the pigeons. 110 birds were trapped for the sweepstakes. First prize was shared between J. and F. Haines.
There was an extraordinary suicide attempt at the New Inn on June 26th, 1895. At 11 o'clock Police-Constable Jeffs was sent to the tavern where he saw Thomas Riley, a thirty-year-old pea-picker, on a bench outside the door of the pub. He had cut his throat, and was bleeding badly. Thomas Riley said to the police officer: "I've done it, officer; but haven't done it very well. I'll do it better next time, or now, if you will give me the razor." The pea-picker would not allow the policeman, or anybody else, tie anything round his throat for a time. On the way to the police station he tried to get his hand in the wound and tear it open. He said "he would do it some way, as there was nothing in this world to live for." At the next Petty Sessions P.C. Jeffs reported that Thomas Riley said he did it was because people called him "cockeye," and "he could not help his eyes." P.C. Jeffs said he had had complaints of Riley begging at Cropthorne, and running people with the razor, and kicking the doors of houses. George Whiley, landlord of the New Inn, appeared at the Petty Sessions and said that "Thomas Riley came to the inn at 8 o'clock at night, and he refused him a drink, as he had had enough already.' The publican added that "Riley sat outside on some benches until just before closing time, when he asked him to go away. About 11 o'clock he heard cries of "Murder," and found that Riley had cut his throat." George Whiley had reportedly took the razor off the pea-picker. Mr. John G. Rusher, surgeon of Pershore, said he was called to see Thomas Riley at Pershore Police-Station and found he had two lacerated wounds across the throat through the skin and tissues beneath, not severing anything important. The doctor sewed his throat up while the polio held him down. At the Petty Sessions Thomas Riley said he worked in the Chemical Works at Widnes, Lancashire. He had been in Worcestershire before, pea-picking. He told the Bench that he wished he could change "this sort of life." but he could get no work. He was remanded for eight days in Worcester prison. He was later dismissed on his promise not to injure himself again, and go out of the district.
In September of the following year there was another bizarre incident inside the New Inn. Two local men, Peter Davis and Joseph Meakins, had been friends for 40 years until the night of September 14th, when the friendship came to an abrupt termination inside the New Inn. At the Petty Sessions, held later in the month at Pershore, Joseph Meakins detailed to the Bench at length the events which led to this. It appeared that he went to the New Inn on the night in question for a basket which he had lost, and which had been found by George Whiley, the licensee. While there he called for a pint of beer and asked Peter Davis to have a drink. Davis assented, but after waiting some moments and finding that the pint was not returned, he meekly enquired where it was. Then up rose Peter Davis who declared that "he did not want Meakins's fucking beer." According to Joseph Meakins, this was followed by Peter Davis throwing the contents of a cup of cider over him. Not till then, stated Meakins, did Davis give a reason for this strange conduct, when he accused Meakins of giving information to Francis Holland about him stealing mushrooms. This Meakins flatly denied. Davis would not, however, accept the denial, and, walking up to Meakins, threatened to cut his teeth and belly out. Hence Davis's appearance at the Police Court, where Meakins asked that he should be bound over, as he feared that one of these threats would be carried out. David Knight, another Cropthorne labourer, gave evidence as to the threat by Davis that he would cut out the teeth of Joseph Meakins. Peter Davis admitted that he did make this threat, but explained that he had had a drop of beer, otherwise he should never have said it. The Bench bound Peter Davis over in his own recognizances in the sum of £10 to keep the peace for six months.
MORE TO FOLLOW ON THE NEW INNd.1906 1903 - Thomas Stanley
1924 - George Latham
1952 - Arthur Andrews
On Friday July 10th, 1903, Thomas and Mary Stanley were eating their breakfast when they alarmed by the screams of their three-year-old daughter, Mary, who had been apparently been left in the bedroom peacefully sleeping. Thomas Stanley immediately rushed upstairs and found the girl standing on the bed with her flannelette nightdress in flames. She had been playing with matches. The publican extinguished the flames, and immediately took his daughter to the Cottage Hospital at Evesham. However, the girl had suffered extensive burns, and death from shock followed late in the day. At the inquest a verdict of "Accidental death" was returned.
"Mr. Best, coroner, of Evesham, held an inquest on Friday last at the New Inn, Cropthorne, on the body of a man found in a brook
called Marybrook, in that parish, under the following circumstances :- As W. Barnes, Esq., of Evesham, was on Thursday shooting in the parish of Hampton, and
having shot a partridge, it fell and ran some yards towards the brook, when stooping to pick up the bird he discovered the body of a man lying in the brook with his
face downwards and partially covered with water, which was then not more than a foot deep, but from the muddy deposit on the bank and on the poor creature it was
evident the water had been much deeper. Mr. Barnes called a man from an adjoining field, and the body was taken out of the water and conveyed to the New Inn,
at Cropthorne. In the deceased's pocket were found a single-bladed sharp knife, a pair of spectacles, a farthing, and part of an old bill, on which was
written as follows : "Distress - Mr. Jennings, plasterer, Birmingham : Lord have mercy on my poor soul!" The deceased appeared about 50
years of age, had on a ratted mole-skin jacket, trousers of the same description, no stockings, black cloth boots, light waistcoat with yellow bars, a thin
calico with linen front, blue and white spotted handkerchief, and a tolerably good hat. The jury not having any evidence to prove how the deceased got into the water,
returned a verdict of "Found Drowned." The clothes and boots, may now be seen at Charlton."
"Supposed Suicide At Evesham"
Worcester Guardian : January 2nd 1844 Page 3
"On Saturday last Mr. Best held an inquest at the New Inn, Cropthorne, on William Houghton. John Ricketts, labourer,
deposed that on an afternoon about a fortnight ago he was cutting chaff in Mr. Smith's tallet when he heard the report of gun, and saw deceased coming through a
gate, exclaiming "Oh dear, I've shot myself." The barrel of a gun was down by the gate and the stock was in his pocket. He did not say how he was shot.
Some assistance arrived and he was carried home. Mr. Martin, surgeon, found him labouring under great exhaustion. Deceased told the surgeon that the barrel fell out
of his pocket, when the cap struck against something and exploded, lodging the contents in his arm and shoulder. The case went on favourably for some time, but
lock-jaw supervened, and death ensued on Wednesday last. Verdict "Accidental death."
Worcestershire Chronicle : November 23rd 1853 Page 4
"William Cornmell, of the New Inn, Cropthorne, was charged, on the information of P.S. Wigley, with permitting drunkenness
in his house on the 26th ult. Fined 12s. 6d. and 7s. 8d. costs."
Worcestershire Journal : March 23rd 1867 Page 3
"Richard Homer, Evesham, was charged with being drunk and disorderly at Cropthorne, on the 12th inst. Emily Bishop said she heard
a noise, and, on going out, saw defendant stripped, fighting with a gipsy. He was not sober. George Whiley, New Inn, said that defendant was perfectly
sober when he left his house, but was severely punished by the gipsy's blows, which appeared to quite daze him. Defendant denied the charge, and said he was
excited, having been robbed by the gang of gipsies of £3., and, accusing one of them of the robbery, was knocked down three times. The Bench retired, and
adjourned the case for a fortnight for further evidence."
"Drunk and Disorderly"
Weekly Independent : July 31st 1886 Page 2
"Pershore Young Conservatives played skittles against Eckington Conservative Association, and lost by a margin of 17. The team was Mr. R.
Eccles, Linda Cosnett, Mr. P. Palmer, Lynette Ford, Mr. G. Gould, Jeanette Crosier, Mr. J. Ryland. Mr. J. Canning, Barbara Canning, Mr. S. Buxton. Mr. P. Thorne and
Mr. M. Crosier, captain. The hot dogs served were prepared by Mrs. Andrews. of the New Inn, Cropthorne, where the match was held."
Evesham Standard : January 20th 1961 Page 10