Open to the Public
What is a Pub ?
Few establishments have as many different names to identify them as the good old British "pub". Ask Google to come up with synonyms for "pub" and you will get tavern, inn, bar, hostelry, taproom, hotel, guest house, public house, beer parlour, alehouse, pot-house, beer house, free house and tied house.
A few of those can be dispensed with as descriptive of places where alcoholic beverages are available alongside other services, but we are still left with public house, hostelry, inn, ale house, beer house and tavern and in the more recent past the notion of the gastro pub has been added.
The term "public house" originally meant nothing more than to distinguish the place that was open to the public to take a drink from a private house from which the public might be excluded by the occupiers. The phrase came into use in the late 17th century and within 50 years or so, it had generally replaced the word "tavern" at least in England. Americans however continued to use the word "tavern" so that when that word is now used in the UK it often signifies that the establishment has something of an American style to it.
Inns are pubs normally found in rural areas and often provide accommodation for travellers alongside refreshment. Hostelries are much the same. Beerhouses and alehouses acquired their descriptions by reference to the type of beverage they served, ales being distinguished from beers and lagers by reference to the type of yeast used and the fermentation duration and temperature.
Otherwise of course they all mean much the same thing. "Pub" is obviously the abbreviation for "public house", so that's the one we'll stick with.
After the development of the large London breweries in the 18th century, the trend grew for pubs to become tied houses which could only sell beer from one brewery. The beer selection is mainly limited to beers brewed by that particular company.
By the Victorian era, the concept of the “free house” developed, this being a pub not tied to a brewery, independent, “free” of the brewery's influence and serving whatever beverages the landlord or landlady may choose to keep the customers satisfied.
Simply put, a gastropub, a term coined in 1991, focuses on not only good beer, but quality food to please a gastronomically minded clientele. Denham’s gastropubs have gained quite a reputation for serving good quality beer, wine and food.
Early laws regulating brewers and merchandisers of Ales & Beers
Alcoholic drinks in all their forms have always been of interest to connoisseurs. This is as much true of beers and ales as it is of fine wines. At times it has not always been easy to tell whether the laws that have controlled the manufacture of ales and beers have to do with the prevention of public drunkenness or to ensure the fine quality of the product. In 1215, Magna Carta did not only commit King John to recognise and acknowledge the liberties of his country's powerful barons, it decreed also a standard measure for “wine, ale and corn” with inspectors to monitor the brews and fermentations offered for sale. - including the wines imported from France and a few other countries.
For 150 years – from 1200 to 1350 - most brewing in Britain was done by female “brewsters”, using their domestic pots and buckets and fitting the boiling, mashing and fermenting around their other domestic tasks. Outside the cities, it was estimated, one peasant family in 25 brewed for sale. Ale was drunk for breakfast, lunch and supper. It was widely believed that beer was drunk in preference to water because the fermentation process killed off the dangerous pollutants in medieval water supplies, but this is now thought to be a myth. Maybe people just preferred the taste.
Documents from 1375 translated by Denham's early 20th century historian, the Rev. R.H.Lathbury, describe fines and penalties for ale tasters and brewers found guilty of inaccurate weights and measurements. Records from 1377 show that ale was widely considered a necessity. A supply had to be guaranteed and the ale, which, until the early 1400s did not keep, had to be consumed before it turned sour or else it was to be thrown away. Anyone who brewed less than they had brewed previously, or who had decided to cease brewing at their established price was liable for punishment. The fines took effect as an early form of licensing, but with an eye on quality control and supply rather than temperance. The events that caused the churches, particularly the non-conformist churches, to want to control alcohol consumption as a disease and a cause of widespread poverty lay some 500 years in the future. In the 14th century St Mary's Church in Denham profited from the sale of church ales and included "ale tasters" amongst its congregation.
Ale was a valued commodity and was even used as currency. In the early middle ages it was often the servants or sometimes the wives of the wealthier feudal landlords who brewed for domestic needs and then sold off the surplus. A similar practice was common in the monasteries which were also feudal landlords. In the 13th Century, ale would have formed a large part of a labourer’s wages, possibly as much as two-thirds. It was the decline of this practice of paying wages in kind in the late 13th and 14th Centuries that contributed greatly to the rise of the alehouse as a drinking establishment and meeting place.
The distinction between ales and beers based on their different manufacturing methods was also jealously protected. Beer was not merely ale with added hops, and those who thought otherwise were quickly accused of adulteration.
As demand for beer grew, standardization of the sizes of beer barrels (36 gallons) and of the smaller ale barrels was introduced. Brown bottles and then green bottles helped preserve the beer flavours. Beer was a more consistent quality, kept longer, was cheaper and gradually found favour with the popular palate. Brewing beer became big business locally and for export; hop picking by seasonal workers was labour intensive from the 1400s to the 1940s when hop fields in Kent and other coastal areas determined the landscape of entire counties more so than the northern cotton mills.
A different kind of regulation
In the 19th century a rather different mood took over. Quality had been subordinated to availability, so much so that the Beer Act of 1830 allowed any local ratepayer to apply for a licence to brew and sell beer. The cost of a licence was just two guineas - around £70 in today's values. Again the intention of the 1830 was not so much as to restrict beer and ale consumption but rather to increase competition among brewers and in doing so lowering prices and encourage people to drink beer instead of strong spirits.
In 1861 the Single Bottle Act permitted the sale of alcoholic wines for consumption "off the premises" again a measure encouraging rather than discouraging the consumption of alcohol.
However another movement, the temperance movement, was growing. The use of alcohol was associated with drunkenness and drunkenness was associated with crime, violence and poverty. Alliances were formed between social reformers and industrialist employers who depended on the sobriety of their workforces, many of them arguing for total prohibition. The churches, particularly the non-conformist churches in the country's poorer urban communities, took up the cause defining alcohol as an evil influence.
It was an attitude that was to survive well into the second half of the 20th century. In the 19th, the legislators were finally forced to act by introducing the Licensing Act 1872 which restricted the hours for sale of alcoholic beverages in England and Wales. In August 1914 and just a week after the enactment of the Defence of the Realm Act which effectively placed the country under martial law following the outbreak of the first world war, the UK Parliament turned to its next priority declaring it a criminal offence to ‘treat a soldier or sailor, with intent to make him drunk’. Spirits were banished from the railways as a measure to protect the sobriety of troops. These measures were not all that unpopular. With deadly battles of war raging in France and Germany, “ there was acceptance that compulsory restriction was part of the general patriotic response required from the population at large, as the reality of the war became apparent.”
The years of the first world war saw draconian restrictions on the brewing industry, with the strength of beer reduced dramatically and tax levels increased. After the war, high taxes remained in place, although to increase the strength of beer, the government actively promoted the use of more home-grown barley, in return for a decrease in beer duty.
The restrictive approach to alcohol sale and consumption continued. To discourage everyone from drinking alcohol before going to work, the government began to change the times allowed for pubs to open, and then mandated closing by 11 pm. Beer duty rose and there was a progressive weakening of beer while simultaneously encouraging food service. Weekend sales of spirits were banned to reduce the traditional Monday absenteeism. Though now very much relaxed, the licensing regime controlling the sale and distribution of alcohol remains to this day.
The more restrictive regime of the late 19th century and the years of the first world war had the longer term effect of restoring balance in public attitudes to alcohol consumption. As a result of the Licensing Act 1921, the more extreme advocacy of temperance ceased to be an issue because in large part the temperance movement had achieved what it set out to achieve. Drunkenness was not the national disgrace it had been, and improvement was the consensus philosophy across the spectrum of drink-related interest. Indeed, the lot of women was changed: public houses became respectable enough for women to enter without embarrassment. Female alcohol consumption was seen to increase.
More recently the restrictive regime has of course turned to a practice other than the consumption of alcohol but very common in pubs. The Health Act 2006 introduced the smoking ban making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England – became law on 1 July 2007. The smoking ban hit many pubs hard, coinciding as it did with a major recession and rises in the tax on beer as well. The ban contributed to many pub closures throughout the country, especially if pub gardens could not accommodate patrons who smoked. Those pubs that had created a successful food-led business, fared better than those that did not.
So many pubs
In November 1872 consequent upon the coming into effect of the Licensing Act, the Clerk of the Peace ordered the Chief Constable of Bucks to draw up a list of all the licensed houses in the county. The returns provided information giving the name of the house, the occupier, (i.e. the licensee) the name and address of the owner and if relevant the name and address of the leaseholder which was normally the relevant brewery. The year when the house was first licensed was also given.
Nine years previously, the Dutton, Allen and Company Directory for the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire had listed 12 Denham pubs. These no doubt are amongst the houses listed by the Bucks County Chief Constable in 1872.
Dog & Duck, Oxford road, New Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Falcon, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Fox & Hounds, Rush Green, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Gravel Diggers Arms, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Green Man, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Hare & Hounds, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Lambert Arms, New Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Nine Stiles, New Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Plough, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Queens Head, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Swan, Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
Waggon & Horses, Oxford road, New Denham, Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire
At the time, of these only the Swan, Falcon and Hare and Hounds were over 50 years old. Most of the others were all first identified as beer houses after the 1830 Beerhouse Act of 1830 liberalised the regulations governing the brewing and sale of beer. It resulted in the opening of thousands of new public houses and breweries throughout the country. Denham was obviously no exception. The number of pubs in the area was remarkable given the size of the population. Between 1841 and 1901 the population of the whole Denham community actually declined from 1264 in 1841 to only 1146 in 1901. By the time of the Licensing Act in 1872, there was a pub for every 103 residents. The local population did not commence regrowth until the 1920s. Writing only of the four pubs in the village Stanley Hoffman, who was raised in the 1920s in what he knew as The Homestead opposite The Green Man, commented “That a village of a few hundred inhabitants could have supported four public houses still amazes me.” His home had itself once been a public house called The Black Donkey. Hoffman added, “There was a great deal of drunkenness…from those who had swallowed more than enough strong brown ale”.
There may arguably be nothing more British than local pubs, which especially here in Denham, have long and interesting histories that span hundreds of years. Some of that history comes from the pictorial signs, which were originally created so that passing travellers or local resident drinkers could easily recognize where to meet by the pictures on the signs.
Signs outside pubs date back to the 14th century; in 1393 King Richard II passed a statute in England requiring landlords to erect signs outside their premises so that alehouses were more easily visible to the parish ale tasters who would check the quality of ale on sale: "Whosoever shall brew ale in the town with intention of selling it must hang out a sign, otherwise he shall forfeit his ale." They also served as a handy symbol as most people could not read at the time.
Were the Denham pubs coaching inns ?
But it was not only the locals who enjoyed the hospitality of Denham's pubs. Geoff of Wistaria Cottage has wondered if stagecoaches stopped in Denham on their way from London to Oxford or London to Bath and if so where the horses were stabled perhaps in or close to his cottage. He suggested that perhaps the horses could have had water to drink from the Misbourne River.
It seems unlikely. Though close to the main thoroughfare from London to Oxford Denham was actually off the main coaching stops along the “Turnpike”. An old newspaper notice confirms that through travellers were promised a "65-mile drive with seven teams of six horses through the picturesque counties of Middlesex, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire”. An old published timetable records that the "Berkeley stagecoach" ran between the Mitre Hotel in High Street, Oxford, and The Berkeley Hotel in London carrying passengers from Oxford to London on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and in the opposite direction on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. During cold or wet weather, travel was often impossible, and treacherous and always dangerous, so much so that at Christmas 1836 three passengers on the mail-coach died of frostbite. Clearly they did not take advantage of the warm firesides of Denham's hostelries. The horses were changed not at Denham but at Wheatley, Aston Rowant, West Wycombe, High Wycombe, Beaconsfield, Uxbridge and Isleworth. If a stop were requested off the regularly scheduled changing stops, the passenger would have had extra charges to pay. Perhaps better to brave the cold and accept the risks.
That Denham was not a staging post is also suggested by the absence of a distinctive feature of some of the old inns, that is an overhanging area above the doorway which allowed passengers to disembark out of the rain. Nor is there evidence of archways which many early coaching inns had to allow coaches to pass through into a stable yard behind the inn.
It is more likely therefore, that accommodations available in Denham could have been for the benefit of visitors to Denham Place, Denham Court, or one of the other significantly sized manors in the area.
Pubs as the centres of the community
The area coroner could (and did) use both The Falcon and The Swan, both locations well known in the south of the county, to conduct inquests by calling a jury to determine the likely cause of someone's untimely death. In April 1844, the South Bucks Coroner, G.A.Chantey, Esq. did just that to determine the cause of death of a platelayer on the Great Western Railway who had been killed by a train while he was at work. After the Coroner evaluated all testimonies, the verdict was “accidental death” by passing train.
In 1870 the inquest into the death of the Marshall family tragically murdered at their home in Cheapside Land took place at The Swan.
The Falcon was also a depositary for auction sale advertisements that included descriptions of land, woods, livestock, farm equipment, as well as furniture and personal items to be auctioned. As a place frequented by the general public, a pub was a convenient place for patrons to discuss the terms and other particulars of the sale properties. Surely another reason to stop for a drink and enter into the discussions.
The pubs were also used as centres for meetings for the various clubs and societies in the village like the Cricket Club and the Bowls Club.
The Falcon stands on a site from which the villagers of Denham have for many centuries acquired sustenance though in early times a sustenance rather less stimulating than that now enjoyed. In the time of Henry VIII, who ascended the throne in 1509, the property was known as Emmots Deye, the dairy owned, or at least leased from the lord of the manor by one Mr. Emmot or Emmett. Its subsequent owner, one Richard Curtis, however saw the opportunity to turn the establishment from a dairy into a house serving fine ale and other fayre.
Richard and his successors, Thomas Falx and John Maskel clearly prospered for when James Maskel took over from his father in 1573, he was required to pay taxes on his father's estate and it cost him further the equivalent of today's £500 (just £2 in 1573) just to enter the property.
By 1623 the property had been acquired by Robert Bowyer, brother of Sir William Bowyer who in 1596 had purchased Denham Court and whose name is still familiar in Denham. Robert himself owned hundreds of acres of farmland in the area but it was Sir William who persuaded the College of Arms to acknowledge the Bowyers' ancient family armorial achievements. Its crest “A Falcon Rising” was duly registered. It has announced its presence ever since in the name of the pub once owned by a member of the illustrious Bowyer family.
The Falcon is a most interesting bird of prey which was important in old England well before the 1600s. Observing closely from each side of the sign, the Falcon now looks out from its perch on the second tallest and imposing landmark building on Village Road. Double stone steps lead up to the central door of this two-storey brick building, plus semi-basement and attic with three gabled dormers.
The historical records give only brief information about The Falcon during the 1700s, although it is known that the property was grouped with two other properties known as Pinstons, and subsequently as Hewsons when the three properties changed ownership. The 1753 register of licensed victuallers shows John Langley presiding at the Falcon.
By 1851, Thomas F. Thompson was the Victualler, followed in 1861 by David Bishop, publican. In addition to the records from old maintained registers, newspaper articles from 1871 indicate that there were certainly lodgers living at the Falcon as well. There is a hint that some of these lodgers may also have been prisoners, who were often disorderly and required police intervention.
In 1845 the Falcon itself was put up for auction, by then part of the Denham Place estate owned by the Way family. The auction details showed that the Ways then owned an estate which included nine farms and 57 cottages. The advertisement promoting The Falcon Inn reads:
“A convenient House, containing Parlour, Bar, Tap Room, Club Room, four Bed Rooms, Dressing Room, three Attics, Kitchen, and Cellars, with Yard, Out-buildings, Garden, and Meadow, and Stabling for Six Horses, facing it in the village”.
Again, census information indicates a number of licensees and/or operators from extended families, including women, who managed the Falcon during the early 1900s. Both the census records and the Middlesex & Buckinghamshire Advertiser show a new proprietor in 1903. He was announced together with an indication of the fayre he offered:
Proprietorship, The Falcon Inn, Denham Village, Bucks:
Arthur Weaser, Wine and Spirit Merchant
Agent for Wethered’s Marlow Beers
Bottles, Jars, and Small Casks
All orders will be Delivered and Punctually Attended to.
Arthur Weaser was evidently a licensed victualler who considered himself a cut above the labouring classes. The word publican was clearly below the social station of which he claimed membership. It was never used by those actually "in trade". This was a term reserved to those belonging to a stratum of society very conscious of its position somewhere between the ranks of the rich and the professional classes such as clergyman, lawyer and doctor.
Village childhood resident Stanley Hoffman wrote of his life in the early 20th century: “Many are the tales my mother would tell of her days and evenings behind the bar of the Falcon, when the men from the railway, the gangers and plate-layers, the labourers and the navvies, would pour down the Pyghtle and crowd into the Green Man, the Swan, and the Falcon in the village. Mr. Weaser was the keeper of the Falcon Hotel, and his fourth child, Ellen Gertrude Weaser born in March 1888 was my mother.”
At the time of her marriage to Hoffman’s father Charles, a widower, Ellen was living at the Falcon with her father.
It is Stanley Hoffman who also records: “There was much drunkenness and for a while my mother was not allowed to serve in the bars. But my grandfather (Arthur Weaser) was capable of dealing with any trouble or threatening incidents and his pub had a reputation as a good house.”
In 1924, the records show that Percy Vernon Briggs was then the proprietor of The Falcon Inn, followed by Harold Percy Turff. By 1939 George Holgate was the listed operator.
David Brench, who has been the lessee of The Falcon for almost 21 years has lived in Denham Village since 1963 when he was actively involved in property development and construction. That background was very useful as he set about refurbishing The Falcon in 2001. Then the room accommodations were dilapidated and unusable. The rooms are now AA Four Star Award Rooms. All en-suite rooms have upper story views, The Stanton, The Dickens, The Green, and The Garden provide accommodation with comfort for guests, breakfast included.
The Garden at The Falcon has also been updated over the years. It is sometimes the venue for live music for diners and those relaxing with a drink. On a lucky day, if there is a Parish Council sponsored musical event, the Green almost becomes a front garden to The Falcon. During the filming of Matilda in the summer of 2021, the Garden at the Falcon provided a respite for cast members, including Aljaž Škorjanec a professional dancer from BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.
Traditionally the sign on the Swan here in Denham, has portrayed the White Buckinghamshire Swan with a coronet attached to a heavy gold chain around its neck. But in his book on The History of Denham published in 1904, the Rev. Robert Lathbury traces a royal history of the Swan symbol rather more narrowly confined to Denham. He includes a sketch which clearly shows the early symbol.
Lathbury explains that "The Swan, collared and chained is derived according to all genealogists from the family of the de Bohuns; Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, afterwards [King] Henry IV having married Mary de Bohun, youngest daughter and co-heir of Humphrey ,Earl of Essex, Hereford and Northampton."
The Swan symbol is then traced back, through the earldom of Essex to Adam FitzSwannus a large estate owner in the north of England at the time of William the Conqueror. Robert Lathbury continues:
“We have seen how in the early days of Denham, from A.D. 1258 to A.D. 1287, John de Bohun, and Johanna, his wife daughter of Bartholomew de Capella, ruled the affairs of the manor, and how other members of the de Bohun family had land also in Denham. This being so, how strongly this badge of the Swan, the emblem and the badge of the de Bohun family, takes us back to the days when they occupied these scenes; how the present is linked to the past, and old memories revived, which, it is hoped, this book will in some measure help to preserve.”
Old photos show the sign, just as it is described, prominently attached to a bracket far enough above the door to swing in the wind. Look now and the swan is carved and not quite black – one side looking toward the pub; the other side looking away, perhaps to show the swan’s association with being a free, wild bird. That confident representation is now consistently seen throughout the area as the logo for the local council website, the Denham Country Park and the Colne Valley Park and others.
Back in the 1600s, this Denham pub was sometimes known as The White Swan Public House. The Buckinghamshire Archives catalogue lists a conveyance referencing the Swan from Thomas Holland to Robert Hanling for £35 on 26 November 1698. Its listed building entry notes that it dates from the 17th century and was refronted in the 18th century.
One of the most illustrious and locally active landlords of The Swan in the late 19th and early 20th century was Mr. Lewis Bampton. The local press gave him a glowing obituary when he passed peacefully away at the "advanced" age of 84 years on 13th January 1908.
"By the death of Mr. Bampton, Denham loses one of its oldest inhabitants. He came to Denham over 41 years ago, from Hammersmith and took over the licence of the Swan Hotel, which he has held ever since. He joined the Court Golden Falcon of the Ancient Order of Foresters soon after entering the house and having passed through all the offices of the Order, was appointed treasurer of the Lodge, which office he held at the time of his death.
Mr. Bampton was one of the oldest licence holders in the county of Buckinghamshire and was also one of the oldest Foresters in the county. The deceased was well known and respected in the village, and always took the keenest interest in every kind of sport and friendly society. The cricket and football clubs found in him an ardent supporter, and even of late years when he had been unable to walk, he frequently desired to be wheeled in a bath-chair to see the cricket matches.
The funeral of Lewis Bampton took place at the Denham Churchyard 13 January 1908. The Rector, the Rev. R. H. Lathbury, conducted the burial service. "
Notwithstanding the sad loss of Lewis Bampton, pub and hotel services at the Swan continued without interruption. Mr. Bampton’s replacement was his son-in-law Robert Henry Taylor. When Robert Henry Taylor died, his obituary from December 1929 explained the change of hands.
An association with Denham of 22 years is severed by the death, which occurred on Thursday of Mr. Robert Henry Taylor, licensee of The Swan. Mr. Taylor, who was 75 years of age, was taken ill on the previous Tuesday. He was a native of Gloucester, but spent many years at Chiswick where he was a builder. He came to Denham in 1907 to take over the licence of The Swan on the death of his father-in-law Mr. Lewis Bampton.
Mr. Taylor was much esteemed by all classes in Denham and by the many travellers and visitors to the old-world village who found Mr. Taylor a genial host. Mr. Taylor was pre-deceased by his wife, who was the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Bampton, by six months, and greatly mourned her loss. His remains were laid to rest in the Denham churchyard in December 1929. The Rector, the Rev. G. C. Battiscombe officiated. In addition to family and friends, mourners also represented The Falcon, the Green Man, and The Plough to show their respect to a fellow publican, one of four officially recognized as a “beer retailer” at the time.
Kelly's Directory was a trade directory in England that listed all businesses and tradespeople in a particular city or town, as well as a general directory of postal addresses of local gentry, landowners, charities, and other facilities. In effect, it was a Victorian version of the Yellow Pages. From Kelly’s Directory of 1931 we find that one Sidney Johnson was licensee of The Swan.
For the 19 years that he was a part of the Swan, Mark Littlewood looked after The Swan from 2000 until June 2019. Mark was very much a fmailiar face around Denham known to many as the “host with the mostest” involved in many charity events.
Millie Ashworth and Jack Ashmore are the current lessees of the Swan. Their company has owned the lease since 2014 but they arrived in Denham to take over the management only in 2019. They are very happy to be here – even meeting the challenges of the months of COVID restrictions – which have been considerable.
The Garden is “almost a secret garden”, explained Millie, because it is quite isolated and private and even includes a convenient patio area as well as a substantial wooded area. No donkeys live there now, though A couple of donkeys once lived in that garden years ago reports Millie - but their delightful garden is now donkey free.
The Swan has one restricted table. It is reserved for John Payne, a beloved bell ringer from times past. Ann Collins explains:
“Yes John Payne was a bellringer who died a few weeks after my husband Bernard. He died whilst in France and his body had to be brought back to Denham. The table at The Swan belonged to him and his wife Margaret - a friend of mine when they lived in Baconsmead. When John died, Margaret decided to move to a flat in Denham Green and sold her cottage to her neighbour who had visited The Swan with John for the occasional drink. She gave her neighbour the table, assuming he would use it as a work bench, then take it to the tip when he had finished with it. Unbeknownst to Margaret, he donated it to the Swan and had the brass plate fitted."
Millie’s philosophy is that she and Jack serve as “protectors of the Swan, only to pass on the cultural history and enjoyment of this British Pub.” Little wonder then, that the customers and the staff are the best parts of their experiences at the Swan gastropub. …and that they have made the acquaintance of Sarah, their resident ghost.
Millie does not know the history of the lovely painted fireplace surround, but along with the old original ceiling beams throughout, there is a special coziness to the Swan. Whether you are dressed for the theatre or stopping for a pint with your canine friend, there is a comfortable place for you at the Swan - front and centre for diners anytime now.
The Green Man
Although descriptions vary, The Green Man is quite a common name for a pub - though descriptions of its origins and the representations of the figure do vary,. Some historical references suggest that the original name comes from images in churches as a face peering through, or made of, leaves and petals. The current pictorial sign for the Green Man seems to support that idea. However, some previous signs of the Green Man in Denham, show a figure similar to Robin Hood dressed in green cloth or leaves, standing where the forest previously stood. Still another idea is that the Green Man takes its name from the person who used to take the letters as they came by road in the coaching days.
The Green Man in Denham was originally built as a house, perhaps in 1780. It was certainly in the pub business by the late 19th century. Kelly’s Directory of historical public houses, lists Edward Harbour as a beer retailer in 1895, with subsequent Harbour family relations as Beer House Keepers until 1921. At that time George Evans and Caroline Evans took over as the Beer Retailers. Sometime later, Ann Collin’s great grandfather became a manager at the Green Man before going to Savay Farm. She remembers that the pub was a favourite place to go after church.
In 1992, the Harefield Gazette included an article about the Green Man describing it as "a popular olde worlde pub in the middle of the picturesque village of Denham". Linda and Danny McNutt, who moved into the Green Man during the summer of 1991 reportedly “transformed the place into a homely refuge for the lovers of good food and drink". The report in the Harefield Gazette continued "The original flagstone floors and oak beams remain and the place has been redecorated. It also includes a “magnificent beer garden at the rear, a garden that few people realise is there.”
After another three months of building work, the McNutts thanked their regular customers for their forbearance while the work was completed on an extension at the back of the pub in 1995. The headline in the Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette announced: "Green Man Builds on Success, describing it as traditional country pub with a warm and welcoming atmosphere and really friendly staff. A selection of Cask Beers, hot, home-made food are available even on the Thursday and Sunday Quiz nights."
Today's licensee, Teresa Hodgson, is someone else well known in the village for her charity work as well as her management of The Green Man. She has built on the pub's reputation adding features from her own skills in management and design. She is pleased to say that “The Green Man is renowned for it's warm friendly service and high quality Gastro Pub dining. It is both a destination pub and traditional friendly local, that serves a wide selection of lager, ales, wines and spirits.”
The pub on Cheapside Lane is known by many of the village's longer established residents by a name very different from that which it carries now. Most recently, it has been called The King. Sadly The King has been closed during many months of Covid-19 related restrictions.
Several years prior its acquiring its present name, the pub was known as The Fat Cow rumoured to have been in consequence of the mischievous humour of the licensee over which we will quickly pass. Originally it bore a name suited to its location in an old farming village - the Plough, managed by a brother and sister team.
The Plough at Cheapside in Denham was described in a Valuation Survey of the 1910s as a beerhouse owned by James Thatcher & Co Ltd, proprietors of the Britannia Brewery in West Drayton. Its landlord was then one Fred Barford, who in 1911 claimed Islington as his birthplace. Fred had practised in London as a "gilder", an expert in gold veneering, before he arrived in Denham sometime in the 1910s. As a Freemason in charge of a hostelry, no doubt he set high standards for The Plough and perhaps offered his establishment as a venue for his Lodge, albeit as a tenant landlord of the Britannia Brewery Company.
In the Valuation Survey, The Plough was described as a detached brick and tile building with four bedrooms, private and public bars, sitting rooms, kitchen and scullery. Outside there were sheds and a garden. Its gross value was put at £900. The fact that this equates to around £110,000 in today's values shows how property values particularly in this corner of South Buckinghamshire have outstripped other inflationary increases in value some 10 or even 20 times.
In June 1926, a Mrs. Stiles appeared at the Crown Court at Aylesbury before the Bucks Licensing Committee. The Committee was convened to consider applications for confirmation of new licences. Among those seeking a license were Messrs. Bird and Lovibond of Uxbridge applying on behalf Mrs. Ethel Mary Stiles for a new wine on and off-licence for the Plough, Denham.
Mrs. Stiles told the committee that the ale house was used considerably on Sundays by people walking from Uxbridge, and she was frequently asked for wine well as well as beer. In addition, nearby to the Plough, she said, was a recreation ground where tennis, cricket and bowls teams were playing in summer, and football teams in winter. There was also a tea garden, and luncheons were regularly requested and provided as services at this typical wayside public house.
Mrs. Stiles' application was duly granted.
Mrs. Stiles was still managing the running the Plough in 1944-45 at the same time that her brother, Herbert Stone was delivering coal with his horse and cart. Everyone had their coal delivered in those days. Herbert kept his horse and cart where The King's parking lot is now.
For some reason The Plough appears to have gained an adverse reputation but on 8 April, 1992, the Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette carried an article about The Plough in Denham which must have given great pleasure to its managers, . It was identified as “a pub in the hub of village life with good beer, good food and good company. It's all on tap at The Plough in Denham, where the Cheapside Lane pub has become one of the focal points of village life. Chris and Ernie Goodwin took the place over some three years ago and have transformed a onetime tarnished image into a haven of everything that is good about a traditional English pub. Now the locals are back to rub shoulders with the many long distant travellers to this 16th century pub, building a warm and friendly atmosphere. And with Ernie now behind the bar there is plenty of good humour and goodwill to share around to make a visit to The Plough a thoroughly pleasant experience."
The Harefield Gazette echoed this fulsome praise in an article on 10th February 1999:
There’s a full range of Watney beers to lubricate the throat. Kronenberg has been added, while real ale buffs will enjoy a drop of Ruddles County. If it’s a special occasion, a working meal, or just a night out for two, then try the Plough Carvery, a restaurant that seats 80 people, and if very much a cut above the rest."
How Covid has affected the pubs
The COVID-19 pandemic will pass into half forgotten history, sooner we all hope rather than later. But it is worth recording now an experience that will one day be a very significant piece of history.
All pub lessees, managers and operators agree that the months since March 2019 and the uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have created extraordinary challenges. They are coping and hoping that we can all work together to keep the status quo among the pubs in Denham, even as more laws have continued to affect pub operations. Continuing and new licensing laws determine who, when, and how customers can be served; there continue to be insurance issues, live music as well as recorded music regulations, food restrictions and allergy content, employment issues, bar service vs table service, and rules regulating television, wi-fi and gaming machines. All of these and more - in addition to COVID affect our local public establishments, especially now in 2021.
What better is there to this piece adapted from an article in The Gazette of Saturday, August 31, 1901 ?
There is often a certain fascination about an old inn or pub when such places were the central points of interest in every village. There at the close of day the labouring men would gather to discuss current events, the state of the harvest, the latest movement of the squire, the progress of an election. To these hostelries weary workers and travellers would come. And should the traveller come in winter, the wintry sun would redden the sign board, welcoming with cheery warmth as it swung in the chilly wind.
To these places in old coaching days the coaches came by and made a pleasant variation in the monotonous lives of the villagers. If these houses of refreshment could speak, what tales of wayside inns we should have. For strange people travelled in the far-old days. Courtiers and soldiers, pedlars, minstrels, priests and herbalists, fugitives from justice, all kinds of people stopped at the village pubs which are not nearly so important as they were then.
Perhaps, but perhaps not! At a recent gathering of villagers, broad smiles and hearty laughter greeted everyone from the servers to the staff! Toasting was ongoing and all kinds of ordinary labouring men and women were grateful for an evening of pleasant variation in their working days. Not so unlike those seeking refreshment and acceptance over 100 years ago – we also are fortunate.
NEXT TIME: More about The Swan, The Green Man and The Falcon - and recollections of two more village beerhouses, The Eight Bells and The Black Donkey.
David Brench, the Falcon
The Green Man, Denham - The Bar
Wikimedia Commons Images - Public Domain
Cathy Soughton Bucks Research www.bucksresearch.co.uk
1863 Dutton, Allen & Co directory
Hoffman, Stanley, 1995, Morning Shows the Day: The Making of a Priest, Minerva Press, London
Lathbury, Rev. R.H., 1904, The History of Denham, Bucks,
Le Messurier, Colin, July 1974, Denham Parish News
https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en FHL book 942 U2hk, 1980
Victuallers Licenses (Gibson & Hunter)
Denham Historic Town Report - Beaconsfield (buckscc.gov.uk)