Wednesday, 30 March 2016


I recently had an email from a reader who lives in Australia who thought he had something that I may have been interested in. He told me that his mother’s family were English and that her family owned a pub/inn in Limpsfield at some stage over the years.  Apparently when her family brought the pub the previous owner gave them an old pewter pint and half pint mug and they were told that they belonged to the famous General Wolfe who used to drink at the pub. These have been handed down though the family over the years and have ended up in his possession. He did admit that nobody in his family has researched this much, but they all thought that perhaps the mugs had belonged to General James Wolfe, the Wolfe of Quebec. This would put him drinking in a pub in Limpsfield sometime in the early to mid 18th century. Both of the Pewter mugs have clearly engraved "G Wolfe / Limpsfield" and what appears to be an impressed stamp on the mug, the words SURREY 4 within a circle. The mugs appeared to be very old and well used, and he wondered that if they did belong to General Wolfe they could possibly be of historical value.

I had to point out to my reader that as interesting this all is, obviously such items cannot have any true value until they are supported by accredited provenance or paper trail linking them to the purported former owner. Unfortunately, word of mouth is insufficient. The paper link must relate directly with general Wolfe himself. 

My first knee-jerk reaction is that it could not possibly belong to General Wolfe. My reasons for this are quite simple. Wolfe originally lived in Westerham, (just over the County border, in Kent) at a house called "Spiers" now a National Trust Museum called "Quebec House" and although it was only 3 miles away from Limpsfield, he and his family had moved to Woolwich by 1737 when he was aged only 11 - far too young to be drinking!! He was commissioned into the Army as 2nd Lieut in 1741, aged 14 and immediately sent to Europe to fight in the War of the Spanish Succession. He distinguished himself and was a Lieut. Colonel by 1750, aged only 23. In 1748 he went to Scotland to help put down the Jacobite rebellion (promoted to Major in 1749), and then to Ireland in 1752. From thence he went to France the following year and promoted to Colonel in 1756 during the Seven Years’ War. Promoted again to Brigadier General in 1758 he was sent to Canada, from whence he never returned home, dying of a fatal wound before the Heights of Abraham, Quebec in 1759. Honestly, I cannot see when he would have had time to travel from Woolwich to Limpsfield for a drink or two, bearing in mind all through his adult life he would have returned home on leave to his parent's home in Woolwich, if anywhere at all.

Secondly, his first name was James, so the initial G. seems inappropriate - nor could the mugs have belonged to his father as his father’s first name was Edward.

So where does this leave us?  The mugs have subsequently shown to the Pewter Society (yes, there is a society for almost everything!) and their report stated  "This style of pewter pot with a truncated cone body came in around 1730 and remained popular throughout the 19th century. The Surrey 4 is a verification mark put on by the Excise Inspector when he checked that the publican was not giving short measure. In this case it was the Inspector from Godstone in Surrey and the mark dates from 1855."

So it all sounds like this was an old family tale and no one in the reader's family is alive any more who knows much about how they ended up with them or where they came from.

My own thoughts as to whom the G. Wolfe might refer to, could more likely be associated with a Wolfe family (of whom there were many in the parish) who were totally unrelated to General Wolfe. There was quite a clan of Wolfes in Limpsfield at the time-frame in question, particularly in the early part of the 19th century, several members of which clan are buried in St Peter's Churchyard.

I further wonder if there might be a connection with the Wolf family who were responsible for the construction of Wolf's Row, Limpsfield.

Anybody got any thoughts of their own?

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Described as bottler and general storekeeper circa 1871 to 1910. He owned Wickham’s Stores (now Cullens), and also built Wickham’s Castle, now called Stonewalls. He bottled Page & Overton’s Ales under his own name in both ½ pint and 1 pint sizes. See below for examples of his beer-labels. The illustration accompanying this article is of a label issued by his sons Philip and Harold who continued the business after George's retirement until WW1, trading as Wickham Brothers.

George Wickham was born 21st May 1841 to Philip (b 1806) and Ann Wickham (nee Pode, b. 1802), his father’s occupation given in the 1851 census for Southborough, Kent, as a mastic ball maker. His siblings were Mary Anne (b. 1843), and Philip William (b. 1846). George was christened on 20th June 1841 at Tonbridge. He was shown in the 1861 census as apprenticed as an assistant Draper and grocer to one Stephen Sawyer of Headcorn, and first appears in Limpsfield in the 1871 census, where he is listed aged 29, with his wife Emily Chambers (aged 27, whom he had married in 1867 at Tonbridge) and one son, Philip (aged 1). Here he is described as a draper, and grocer employing 2 men and 1 boy. His place of birth is shown incorrectly as Tonbridge, Kent – although later census returns gives the correct Southborough, Kent. His wife Emily (b. 1843), was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Chambers of Headcorn (Holingbourne), Kent. The 1881 census describes George Wickham as a draper, grocer and baker employing 6 men and 2 boys, and his children are listed as Emily (9), George (7), Elizabeth (4), Harold (2), and Maria (newly born), so it would appear that within the 10 interceding years his business had rapidly grown. By 1891, the enterprise had expanded again to incorporate the business of wine and spirit merchant with his address given as “West Heath” At this time the household consisted of himself, his wife Emily, and his children Emily (19), George (17), Elizabeth (14), Harold (12), and Maria (10). By 1901 his address had changed to “Stone Wall”, and most of the children had fled the nest, only having Emily (29), Harold (22) and Maria (20) still living there. George Wickham must have retired by 1911 when he is listed (in Kellys Dir) as residing at Stonewalls, but the business is referred to as Wickham Brothers, (his two sons Philip and Harold). However, by 1918 (Kellys Dir) there is no further record of the Wickham business at Limpsfield, both the sons having enlisted in the Army, which may account for the closure of the business. Philip joined the East Surrey Regt, and Harold joined the Queens. Nothing further is heard of either of them except that examination of subsequent death registers gives 1950 Newton Abbot for Harold, aged 71, and 1953 Croydon for Philip, aged 84. It is interesting to note also that their mother Emily died in 1916, and their father George Wickham died 2nd Feb 1919. Was George Wickham a victim of the influenza pandemic, I wonder? His probate was granted on 27th June 1919 to his son George Wickham jnr and showed his estate to have been worth £18,712. 12s 3d.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Plumbers Arms & Brickmakers Arms update

Just recvd an interesting update re the Plumbers Arms and the Brickmakers Arms from one of my readers so am posting it up without edit as follows:


Just been reading your item about the “Plumbers Arms” in Limpsfield. I’ve lived in the Oxted area, on and off since 1966. I went to the Primary School next to Limpsfield Common from 1966 to 1971 and I remember the “Plumbers Arms”. Your closure/demolition date is a bit out. During my last few months at that school, work started on widening (to dual carriage way) from the top of Pebble Hill down to the traffic lights, so the pub was doomed anyway. However, its’ closure was brought forward to a truck crashing into the side of the pub and severe damage caused to the building to be condemned. This occurred in late 1971. A trawl through the Surrey Mirror archives could probably come up with something, as I do vaguely remember it featuring. It was probably the most exciting thing to happen in the village for years!

Slightly more up to date, the “Brickmakers Arms” at Crowhurst Lane End closed on 24th January this year (2009) and the pub is for sale. The owners are still living on the premises,

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Barley Mow, Tandridge

I have just been told of a little anecdote concerning the Barley Mow, Tandridge, in that a previous tenant - a retired Harley Street dental surgeon - took over the pub, and on his first night was asked for a Final Selection. His reply: "I'm sorry I have just moved in, we have no racing papers, but will the Evening Standard do?"

He was known as "Old Final Selection" at Whitbread's Brewery for many months afterwards!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


I am adding Tandridge and Crowhurst to my Limpsfield Blog as I have so little material it is not worth opening separate blogs just yet, and like Limpsfield, they are just on the outskirts of Oxted.


Barley Mow, Tandridge Village. Situated about 1½ miles from the Bell and about 2 miles from the Brickmakers Arms. In 1892 owned by the executors of Lord Cottenham’s estate, but tied to Bushell & Co, brewers of Westerham, for trade. The licensee was Richard Cowdray and the inn was frequented by labouring classes.


Brickmakers Arms, Crowhurst Lane End. Situated about 2 miles from the Barley Mow and about a similar distance from Webb’s off-licence. In 1892 it was a free-house owned by Andrew Borrer of Tandridge and run by Frederick Wood. The inn was frequented by labouring classes.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Beer Retailers

George Wickham, High Street, Limpsfield. Described as bottler and general storekeeper circa 1874 to 1910. He owned Wickham’s Stores (now Cullens), and also built Wickham’s Castle, now called Stonewalls.. He bottled Page & Overton’s Ales under his own name in both ½ pint and 1 pint sizes.


Carpenters Arms, Windmill Common. Situated about 2 miles from the Grasshopper Inn and about 1¼miles from the Plumbers Arms. In 1892 owned by Bushell & Co of Westerham, and the licensee was Augustus Lincoln Verbeyst. Frequented by labouring classes and gipsies. It was formerly called the Tally Ho, but this must have been prior to 1859 as in that year it was listed as The Carpenters, run by Richard Brazier. It was said to have been owned at one time by a man named Jarrett when the inn was called the Tally Ho.


The Bull, Limpsfield Street. Situated about ¼ mile from the Plumbers Arms and 250 yards from the Coach & Horses. The building is 17th century with 19th century additions. It was owned in 1892 by Bushell & Co of Westerham and the licensee was George Stafford, in succession to Mrs Fanny Jenner sometime after 1859. It was frequented by a mixed class of labourers and others.


Plumbers Arms, Limpsfield Street, Situated ¼ mile from the Bull, and about 200 yards from the Coach & Horses. A quaint old-fashioned building with 5 cottages adjoining, parts of which dated from the 17th century. In 1862 there was a plumbers shop at the rear, hence its name. In 1870 the inn was fully licensed and had experienced alterations. Acquired by Nalders & Collyers in 1887 as a freehold, but by 1892 ownership had transferred to Bushell & Co of Westerham. In 1952 it again passed hands into the ownership of Shepherd Neame of Faversham. The licensee in 1892 was William Shore, who took over sometime after 1859 from Charles Wolfe after whom the lane known as Wolfe’s Row was named. The inn was frequented by tradesmen and working classes. Demolished circa 1960-1963.


Coach & Horses, Limpsfield Street. Situated 250 yards from the Bull, and 200 yards from The Plumbers Arms. This inn changed its name several times, between the Coach & Horses and the Lord Rodney. It appears to have started as the Coach & Horses but was then shown as the Rodney Inn on the Tythe returns. It was back to its original name in the 1851 Census return, but was again the Coach & Horses in 1872 (SRO 337/1/86) It was renamed the Lord Rodney at the turn of the 20th century but this must have been after 1895 when Joseph Ball is listed as having it and still trading as the Coach & Horses. It was owned by Nalder & Collyers, brewers, Croydon, and in 1892 was run by John Errington, catering for low labouring classes. William Sooth had run it in 1859. It lost its licence in the 1920’s and the private residence is still known as The Rodney.


White Hart, Limpsfield Street. An old pub on the West side of the High Street, now a private dwelling called White Hart Lodge. The building is 16th century, having some features of 17th century origin. A stone fireplace on the upper floor with an arch of four-centred type decorated in colour may be earlier than that date. It is a noticeable fact that when alterations were made to the house, rafters of the roof were found to be coated with soot as if they had formed the roof of a mediaeval hall in which an open fire burned on a central hearth.

Some Survey plans made in 1894 show the oldest part of the roof to be the portion over the hall. There is a king-post with brackets, 4-ways, shown on the section through this post and it seems clear that there cannot have been an upper floor originally because the sills of the first floor windows are barely 2 feet from the floor and a beam runs across the windows at the eaves level. In all probability then, the original building was a hall spanned by an open timber roof and having rooms at both ends of it. White Hart Inns generally date from mediaeval times.


There are two other properties which apparently were former pubs -  one was the GRASSHOPPER, and I have a photo of the property dated 1863. I know little about this pub so any help would be appreciated:

and the other property is in the village itself, called the OLD LODGE. It was situated in the High Street.

any info would be welcome.


Frederick William Thompson.
Address: Unknown
Town: Limpsfield, Surrey
Dates: from 1930.
References: BTR June 1930.
Biographical Details: Brewery Trade Review 1st June 1930: Mr Fredk. Wm. Thopmpson, brewer, of Limpsfield, Surrey, who died on March 26th, aged 70 years, left estate of the value of £64, 941.