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The Inns of Bradford Street

Bocking developed as a bi-focal village, Church Street and Bradford Street were the two centres connected by Church Lane. In the great age of Pilgrimage (from the 11th century) Bradford Street was on the route from London and Canterbury to Bury St Edmunds and Walsingham. Special inns were built to accommodate the pilgrims and there was a Pilgrims’ Hostel (The Chapel of St James) in Bradford Street.

Later, at the height of the wool trade in the 17th and 18th centuries many inns served as sales venues where the weekly sales of yarn and cloth took place. Note that a number of Inns ceased trading around 1800 by which time the wool trade had come to an end.

Before piped purified water was widely available, and piped water only reached Bradford Street in 1920, beer was drunk regularly instead of water since the brewing process rendered the water safe. Of the many beer houses and inns that have existed over the years only the Angel now remains. In the early part of the 20th century Bradford Street had a number of beer sellers in addition to the public houses and there was an off-licence attached to Bocking Brewery.

The Pubs


Some of the details in the following entries come from Mike Bardell’s “Give Them Ale Enough”.

173 Dyall House

Possibly built in 1603 and so named because it once boasted a sun dial on the front façade. It was occupied by Benjamin Harvey, maltster , in the 1841 census, White’s Directory of 1848 lists Richard Medcalf as a beerseller, in 1855 Kelly’s Directory lists him as a beer retailer. The 1871 census first refers to the property as the Dial Inn. It was a Raven house until 1901 and then a Greene King house. About 1925 the landlord was a Mr Thompson. In the 1937 Kelly’s Directory the landlord was Ernest Clarke. It ceased trading as a public house in 1973. Victorian photographs show the tap room with wood paneling but this was removed and sold to a millionaire by Mr. Raven.

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129 - 135 Site of the Six Bells

The site of the original Six Bells which was demolished in 1932. From the picture taken during demolition, the roof timbers suggest that the old pub had previously seen extensive renovation. There is a strong local tradition that the Six Bells, Bradford Street originally was a Church Alehouse. The Chapel of St James was a hospice for pilgrims and was well established in 1503 when William Claryon left the rents from his tenement to pay for mass to be said once a week in the chapel. The row of cottages on the left hand side in the picture above is believed to have stood on the sight of the chapel. In wills from 1515 and 1517 money was left for the reparation of St James. If the Six Bells was the Church alehouse attached to the hospice and chapel then it must have been in operation before this time. Brisley (1992, pl.5) has published a photograph of the original Six Bells, which certainly appears to have its origins as a late medieval public building, with Victorian modifications and is much older than the inn on the corner in the picture above. The church alehouse would have provided refreshments to the pilgrims staying at the nearby hospice run by the monks of the Chapel of St James. Robert Peirs of Bocking appeared at the Essex Assizes at Chelmsford 28 Feb. 1676 for keeping a common tippling house without licence. Robert Peers (Pierce) appears in the 1680 Session Rolls and again in 1681. 1694 Session Rolls: “Recognizance of Jos. Feers Yeoman and Robert Peers victualler, both of Bocking; John Peers to answer John Collin and threatening to him some other bodily harm although he was charged by the petty constable thereof to keep (?the peace towards) Collin. They are agreed.” From the 1699 Session Rolls: “Indictment of Robert Peirce of Bocking victualler, before and since 31 Aug. 1699, kept ill rule in his common alehouse there”. In his will of 1702 Robert Peers gives the Six Bells to his son John. In 1736 Elizabeth Pierce bequeathed the Six Bells to grandson Edmund Peirce. 1748 Marriage Settlement between Robert Gainsborough of Sudbury, clothier and Ann Peirce of Sudbury, wife, concerning “Six Bells” inn in Bocking. In his will of 1785 John Stebbing sen. Of Bocking, farrier, proved 1789, gives to his son Charles Stebbing his public house known by the name of the Six Bells, occupied by William Casson. 1793 census Mrs. Caton (Cason?) Victualler Sign Six Bells. 1803 Nockold Survey Oliver Gosling, Six Bells. 1848 White’s Directory, Nunn E., Six Bells. 1851 Kelly’s Directory Henry Frost is the landlord. 1855 Kelly’s Directory, Henry Bearman, Six Bells P.H. 1874 Kelly’s Directory, Thomas Pyman, Six Bells P.H. 1882 Kelly’s Directory, Edward Phillip Spicer, Six Bells, P.H. 1894 Kelly’s Directory, Mrs Ellen Bearman, Six Bells P.H. 1912, 1914 & 1917 Kelly’s Directories Frederick W. Pettitt, Six Bells P.H. 1929 Kelly’s Directory Charles Derisely, Six Bells P.H. 1933 & 1937 Kelly’s Directories and in the 1939 England & Wales Register Sydney Hedges was at the Six Bells P.H. Mike Bardell in Give them Ale enough writes “A Gardener House at the end of the 19th Century, Greene King supplied it from 1902 until closure. However, the premises were owned by A Smith Esq who ran a successful mineral water business from behind the pub in 1898. He had a purpose made building with gas engine supplying power for carbonating, bottle and syphon filling and for bottle washing. Soda Water, lemonade, ginger ale, peppermint and Royal Record Champagne were delivered by van within a 10 mile radius.” The current building on the site was built in the 1930s when the road was widened. It ceased to operate as a public house in 1988. The Old Harkilees statue adorned the front of the building until its removal to the Braintree museum.

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104a, 106 The Bocking Brewery

originally owned by the Goslings, was located in the yard behind and was still operated by Greene King & Sons Ltd in 1925. Peatling and Cawdron’s off-licence business became agents to Greene King & Sons and in 1934 joined forces with the company. They had ceased trading here before 2002. Hogs occupied 104a first as a restaurant and then operating as a wine bar in about 2005. It was renamed Benson’s Bar and operated as such between 2009 and 2017.

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The Cock

Cock lane runs between Nos.104 and 104a. The Cock probably operated until 1786 or 7 for in 1788 another inn appears – The Spread Eagle (before the name was used for an establishment in Church Lane); the 1793 census has an inn by the name of the Spread Eagle, occupied by William Martin, in this section of the street, but it had closed before the Nockold survey of 1803. Was this Spread Eagle the former Cock inn? The Spread Eagle of the 1793 Census places it between the Tudor House (118-114) and the former Benson’s Bar (104a, 106) if the census entries are in order. However, it may have previously been The Cock.

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89 Queen’s Head

In 1691 it was owned by John Maysent (hence its present name) who, in 1723 as lord of the manor, placed a rent charge of 40 shillings on the property to pay for the upkeep of his son’s tomb in the churchyard. 1734 will of William Daniel bequeaths the Queen’s Head. The will of John Daniel in 1756 bequeaths the ‘Queens Head’ with newly erected wool hall to his son William. In 1788 on the 8th November the body of Lord Nugent lay in state at the Queen’s Head before being interred at Gosfield. In the 1793 census Mrs Ager was the landlady at the Queen’s Head, Thomas Beckwith had inherited it from his uncle Thomas Candler and his will of 1794 directs it to be sold. It had ceased trading by 1803 when Josias Nottidge Jnr. lived there

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77 Woolpack Inn

In the 1889 illustration the Woolpack Inn is the three gabled building on the right hand side. In a deed dated 1714 it is referred to as the “former Woolpack”. A farthing trade token was issued by John Dawdate in 1666; he owned or tenanted the Woolpack. He was succeeded by John Dobson, victualler, mentioned in the Session Rolls of 1680 and 1681. Dobson was fined for keeping a disorderly alehouse in 1685. It may have ceased operating as an inn for quite some time when the property changed hands several times without any reference to it being an inn. In a deed from 1779 “Agreement for sale of Woolpack Inn, with brief details of stock of beer and equipment”. In 1793 Mr John Lorkin victualler Wool Pocket. In the 1803 will of John Lorkin the Woolpack is to be sold, bought by Thomas Barnes of Colchester, who, in 1806 sells to Oliver Gosling, brewer of Bradford Street. On his death Oliver left his properties in trust for the benefit of family members. In the 1848 White’s Directory John Medcalf is at the Woolpack and it ceased to be a public house in 1851

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70-76 The site of the Swan Inn

The Swan Alehouse was trading in 1769 but probably ceased trading in 1784 since there is no victualler’s licence issued in the 1785 Session Rolls. In the illustration dated 1889, the building in the foreground on the left was the old Swan Inn

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68 The Rose and Crown

The inn is documented as early as 1671 and ceased trading about 1805. In 1732 it was sold to Barnabas Allen who, in 1735, sold it to Robert Manning. Samuel Crakanthorpe sold it to John Marriott in 1793 and it was sold to Oliver Gosling in 1795 when Crakanthorp was bankrupt. Oliver Gosling still held the property in the 1803 Nockold survey but it ceased trading in 1804.

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No 66

A former building in the site of no. 66 operated as a beer house under the name of the Queen’s Head from about 1847 until sometime before the 1861 census.

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52 King’s Head

It is first mentioned in a will from 1697 and identified in a will in 1784. Bequeathed by Samuel Tabor to Timothy Boosey in 1784. In the 1793 census Oliver Gosling was the publican at the King’s Head and is listed again in the 1803 Nockold survey. In the1798 Land Tax record Timothy Boosey appears to own the property with Thomas Joyce as tenant. In 1808 the will of Timothy Boosey requires all properties to be sold. It was leased to Thomas Joyce between 1815 and 1832. In the tithe record of 1838 his son John Joyce is given as the owner and occupier and he is the occupier until after the 1871 census. In 1860 a worker there named Lindsell lost three toes when he dropped a beer cask on his foot. In the 1881 census the premises are occupied by Samuel Adams. John Joyce died in 1888 and his son Thomas sold the property to Frederick Rankin. Frederick Rankin is the inn-keeper in the 1891 and 1901 censuses. The Gosling bought the property in 1802 and it was in their sale to Greene King in 1904, George Holland is listed in the 1902 Kelly’s Directory, Thomas Mills in the 1911 census, Mark Barnes in the 1912 & 1914 Kelly’s Directories, Frederick Stock in 1917 and Frank Brown in the 1925 directory. In 1929 Kelly’s Directory gives Saml. Wain as the landlord, the 1933 directory, Alfred Albert Brightween. In the 1939 England & Wales Register, Alfred Brightween is the licensed victualler. It ceased to be a public house in 2014.

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46 The Cardinals Cap

It was in business before the mid-16th century and ceased trading when the site was redeveloped in 1855. In 1622 John Luffkyn leaves his house in Bocking, the Cardinal’s Cap, to his wife Joanne then to his grandson Lawrence Palmer. The Public Record Office has a Court Roll from the 15th century which refers to “le Cardynales”. A Session Roll from 1624 refers to “the messuage there called by the name of the ‘Cardinall’s Hatt’ and hath been for above three score years (i.e. before 1564) accounted an inn and entertained travelers as well as horsemen and horses.” In 1692 the inn called the Cardinalls Capp was occupied by Richard Wortham, who was named as a landlord in Session rolls of 1681 and 1685, and sold by Lawrence Palmer to William Osborne. In 1714 the tenement called the Cardinalls Cap conveyed to Jane Pye. The will of Jane Pye in 1722 bequeaths the Cardinalls Capp to her nephew John Roberts. In 1756 William Roberts bequeaths the Cardinalls Cap to wife Elizabeth. A deed of 1783 refers to the Cardinal’s Cap as a public house, later a baker’s shop and a tenement formerly a smith’s forge. William Osborne the younger sold the Cardianl’s Cap in 1783 to a Braintree baker William Low who died in 1828 leaving the premises to his wife Mary for life and then to be sold. In the 1793 census Mrs. Smith was the victualler at the Cardinals Cap. In 1807 Abraham Mortier was the publican at the Cardinal’s Cap until his death in 1835. In the tithe record of 1838 the premises were owned by Oliver Gosling and occupied by John Markham, in 1841 the occupant was Stephenson Louth, by 1848 James Digby was the publican until 1855 when it was sold and redeveloped.

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36 The Angel

It first appears in the records as an inn in the 1871 census and still functions today. Henry Strutt was a Master Boot & Shoe maker and beershop keeper, he is listed in Kelly’s Directory of 1874 as a beer retailer. The 1881 census refers to the “Angel Beerhouse”, occupied by William Butcher a gardener and Beerhouse Keeper, he is still there in the 1911 census and the 1914 Kelly’s directory lists Mrs Ellen Butcher as a beer retailer. The 1937 Kelly’s Directory gives Thos. Dore as publican. The 1939 England & Wales Register gives Edward Peachy, licensed victualler at the Angle Inn. In the late 19th century it was a Daniell house and taken over by Trumans in 1958 then became part of Pubmaster around 1990

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31 The Old Court Hotel

known by this name in 1967 when Major David Willet bought it, but previously known as Friars Hotel, it was a freehouse operating a bar and restaurant until about 2005. The present owners, Mr and Mrs Vir, acquired the premises in 1997. Originally the Freyers manor house and owned over the years by several of the more wealthy clothiers it became the Friars’s Children’s home in 1915 until sometime after 1948

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27 Makens

As it was called in the earliest extant deed from 1653 was previously an alehouse run by John Maken who was in court in 1631 for not having a licence.

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16-20 Kings Arms House

It is first mentioned in Quarter Session records from 1769 and ceased to be an inn after its sale in 1808. It was bequeathed by Samuel Tabor to Timothy Boosey in 1784. In the 1798 Land Tax record it had been occupied by Widow Pearson and then taken over by Abraham Mortier. In 1799 a militia man was given counterfeit coins in his change here. In 1808 the will of Timothy Boosey required all properties to be sold and it may have ceased trading at this time.

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The Blackhorse

Deeds from 1536 to 1686 refer to the property as Clerkes or Clarkes. The will of Edmund Clarke (1638) refers to his head house (relevant?). A Session Roll from Easter 1655 has Theophilus Clarke in court for keeping an unlicensed alehouse. A deed of 1655 mentions Stockwells otherwise The Blackhorse. A will of 1670 mentions a house called Blackhouse. A deed of 1681 describes the “black house” as being an alternative name for Stockwell later renamed Headwell house which is later identified in an 1820 will as being on the site of the 20th century property adjacent to the lower entrance to the public gardens.

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The George

Location unknown, however, the Quarter Session records of 1680 give Robert Crane as the licensee. Mike Bardell in Give them ale enough writes that he bequeathed the George to his daughter in 1686. However, the will of William Gentry in 1683 bequeaths the tenement in Bocking called the George occupied by widow Ansell to his daughter Jaane Wilson (D/APbW 1/228). Another record, 1706, (ERO Q/SBb 35) refers to an application to licence the Old George of Bocking for Quaker meetings and an indenture of 1850 (ERO D/DO T164) is for a tenement, formerly an inn called the George in Bradford Street.

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