No 19 The Bell Inn

Discussion in 'Non Hampton and Richmond Borough FC related' started by Les 1949, Mar 15, 2020.

  1. Les 1949

    Les 1949 Member


    Things you may not know, or didn’t know you knew!

    No 19 THE BELL INN

    Pub with a River view

    There has been a Public House on the ‘hill’ overlooking the River Thames since the early 16th Century. Originally called ‘The Bell Hotel’, it gave rise to the hill being called Bell Hill. In 1556 Robert Hammond, a Tudor brewer, left the income from the lease of the Bell to endow a free school (a further bequest by the Pigeon family in 1657 of land to the north of the pub led to what we now know as Hampton School).

    The old hotel was a substantial building with stables attached which bears little resemblance to the current pub, as it burned down in 1892.

    We know some of the publicans prior to the First World War, from census returns and local records. Samuel Brotherick was the licensed victualler for twenty years in the late 17th century. Most publicans never seemed to stay long and came from various places all over the UK. That may be explained by the fact that the Bell Inn was actually owned by St Marys Church and no doubt they were very aware of maintaining the churches ‘good name’.

    In 1829, Horse Buses from Hampton to London were introduced and the horses were changed at the Bell, using the attached stables.

    In 1861 Michael Merigan, aged 48, who originated from Ireland, was in charge, five of his children were born in either Isleworth or Fulham, which would an itinerant who went from pub to pub. The most recent child, Joseph was born in Hampton and was only 2 months old which would seem to suggest that the Merigans hadn’t been in Hampton for very long. In 1871 and 1881Thomas Holmden was mine host, born in Rotherhithe but had gone through two wives during the period, first Rebecca then Sarah!.

    Robert Fairclough, 45, from Chorley was the incumbent in 1891, married to Elizabeth, there were no children recorded but Robert’s father, Stephen, 77, was living with them. As mentioned above the pub burned down in 1892 and apparently Stephen Fairclough died that year in Lancashire. Whether or not the two events are linked it is not possible to say without further research. What is known is that Hampton’s Fire Brigade were unable to save the building, access to water was hardly a problem, but they had insufficient hands to man the manual pump (the fire led to the Brigade sourcing a steam operated pump). Robert Fairclough was still in charge when the re-built pub opened a year later.

    In 1901 a new name pops up, Henry Skinner from Islington, married to Ellen, but by 1911 a widower from Teddington, Harry Taylor had taken over.

    A common thread through the years had been the staff ‘living in’, from Barmaids, Barmen and Pot Men (as the name suggests someone employed to collect empty pots and glasses).

    The Bell Inn continues to have a good reputation in the local area, especially their Sunday Roasts. I have always had good meals there, but can’t comment on the beer as am a ‘red wine man’.

    The Old Historian

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