The following is information from various sources about inns in The Wolfords
"Richard Dyer of Great Wolford licensed to victual
Upon the humble petition Richard Dyer of Greate Wolford in this county thereby desiring a licence to sell ale, now forasmuch as the said Richard Dyer is a very poor man and hath a great charge and the place where he the said Richard Dyer now liveth is very fit for that purpose as appeareth both by the information of John Harbert, gentleman, one of the High Constables of tie county, and also by a certificate under the haands of dovers inhabitants of the said parish of Wolford near neighbours to the said Richard Dyer, it is therefore ordered that the said Richard Dyer shall attend the Justices of the Peace of that Division, who are hereby desired to license the said Richard Dyer to keep a victualling house and to put to sale beer and ale to any persons requiring the same, he the said Richard Dyer uttering and selling the same according to the statute in that case made and provided and putting in security according to the law".
No earlier records have survived but this item could possibly refer to the establishment of the first pub in the Wolfords. There seems to be no evidence that "The Fox & Hounds" is older or 16C.
Quarter Sessions Record thereafter list in some detail giving the names of licencees fron 1681 onwards.
In 1806 & 1807, William Bennett was recorded as the licensee of “The Gate” and Elizabeth Randle similarly of “The Fox & Hounds”. These are the earliest known indications of the names of these drinking establishments and are therefore a good point from which to pursue their histories, both earlier and later.
“The Gate” was no longer licensed after 1812 but the registers show a succession of members of the Bennett family as licensees from 1753. In the Compton Estate Accounts circa 1770 there is a map which locates Hannah Bennett as occupier of a property which appears to be on the site of the old Post Office. I believe these houses on the Green were built about 1885 so the actual GATE building might have survived till then. Deeds of 1732, 1753 and 1768 show William and Hannah Bennett as the occupiers of a cottage and garden, on each occasion for 99 years or three lives. It is not unreasonable to assume that they were all tenants of the same premises. William was aged 48 in 1753 and his wife Hannah, 49. The Churchwardens Accounts record a payment to William Bennett for beer in 1794. Nothing more is known of this establishment or its tenants.
In the Compton Estate Accounts circa 1770 there is a map which locates Elizabeth Randall as occupier of a property which is on the site of the present “Fox & Hounds”. In 1806 Elizabeth Randle was licensed at the “Fox & Hounds”. The registers of licensees indicate that a succession of Randles /Randalls were licensed from 1681 but owing to the profusion of Randalls it is impossible to specify a genealogical succession. A John who died in 1699 was, however, according to Spennels Directory in 1884 commemorated in the churchyard by this epitaph:
"Here old John Randall lies, who counting from his tale,
Lived three score years and ten, such vertue was in ale.
Ale was his meat, ale was his drink, ale did his heart revive,
And if he could have drunk his ale, He still had been alive."
Elizabeth continued as licensee until 1813 when succeeded by John Dyer who continued as licensee until at least the 1841 Census. Other Dyers, John, James. John and Elizabeth continued as lessees until at least 1891. By 1900 a John Gardner had taken over and there were then many 20C successors.
At the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office in Stratford there is much information about Flowers purchasing the "Fox & Hounds" premises in 1920 when the Village was sold outright by Lord Redesdale It was sold for £1,250 and the accommodation was listed as:
House: Sitting Room, Tap Room, Bar, Parlour, Kitchen, Scullery, Large Cellar, woodshed and earth closet;
Buildings: 2 coach houses, 2 loose boxes, stable for 4 horses, large loft over, garden, yard and piggery.
At some time between 1920 and 1980 the freehold was sold by Flowers and the premises became a Free House rather than a Tied. At some point thereafter some of the outbuilding was converted to bedrooms. In about 1988 the Vanns purchased what were the partly converted outbuildings and transformed the accommodation to that of a private house. They did not offer bed and breakfast. The now “Old Coach House” was sold to the Hornbys circa 2002 and was again converted as their intention was to function as a bed and breakfast establishment. In 2009 it was acquired by the present owners.
The above information is obtained from a collection of easily available sources and reveals facts probably unrealised by Wolford residents, e.g. "The Gate". It should be possible to adopt the same approach in other villages. For instance, from various sources, "The Lion", "The White Hart", "The Red Lion Hotel", "The Dog", "The Swan" and "The Golden Cross" are all mentioned in Long Compton. What might we establish about them? Are the buildings still here? Any volunteer researchers?
"The Fox and Hounds, the only public house in the village, was a source of endless fascination to me, mainly because I was not allowed to see what went on inside. I was sent by my father from time to time to get his 'baccy ' but had strict instructions to knock on the kitchen door and NOT on the door of the bar. The St. Bruno Rough Cut was 11½d an ounce; my father would give me a shilling and there would be ½d change, which he would sometimes give me. On one occasion Mrs Walker, the landlady of the pub, allowed me to go into the bar. She hadn't any of my father's favourite brand of tobacco handy and she asked me into the kitchen and to follow her into the bar. I was spellbound. I could not imagine what was to be revealed. The passage was quite dark and the bar itself was only dimly lit. To say the least I was disappointed by what I saw. There was nothing the least exciting about it. There was a strong smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke hanging in the air, and the bar itself was not much wider than the passageway with the flagstone floor and along one wall there were a few rough tables and benches. There were five or six men, local farm workers, sitting at some of the tables drinking their beer; it all looked quite harmless to me, in fact I was only too pleased to get back out into the fresh air, having paid for the tobacco and received the ½d change."