'Long celebrated for the goodness of its malt liquor.' (Oxfordshire Gazetteer for 1852).

'Six principal public houses' was the expression used by Ded-dington's oldest inhabitant describing the beef and beer hospitality customary when rent and bills were paid. These six would surely have been the King's Arms, Unicorn and Crown and Tuns, once coaching houses ; after them in importance, the Red Lion, Volunteer and Plough. The last is not now licensed, Mr. Eli Walker having turned it into a pork-butcher's and poulterer's shop. The old sign swings no more from its beautiful frame of wrought iron.

Besides these there were at least another probable nine or ten taverns and beer-houses in the town. The Three Horse Shoes, the Exhibition Inn, the Butcher's Arms ; the Ship in the Horse Fair (still marked by its stone mounting step) is well remembered. A Bear is rumoured as having been near by the Red Lion ; there was also a tavern on the site of Tucker's Stores, and two beer houses, one above and one below on Goose's Green, and another where stands Mr. B. Weaver's grocery store in Chapel Square. In addition the Quit Rents payable yearly, dated June 14th, 1710, mentions 'a messuage in New Street, formerly the Black Swan' and 'the house Thomas Makepeace lives in called the Bell', also in New Street.

It is queried whether the Bell was a former name for the old Plough in New Street as names were sometimes changed. Notably this was the case with the Volunteer which so lately as the last quarter of the 19th century was the Flying Horse. This has led to a surmise that the inn may in an older form have been the Flying Horse of John Elkington of 'Dedington' whose trading token, dated 1667, bore that device in its centre with 'His half peny' on the other side.

The Red Lion in the Market Square definitely links our present with the first part of the sixteenth century, prosaic as it now looks in its rough-cast new casing. Its association with the family of William Byllyng (whose altar tomb with mutilated brass inscription in the Lady Chapel of the Parish Church is described in an earlier chapter) is alluded to by the Rev. E. Marshall in his Notes :—

There was formerly on the door of the Red Lion Inn a ling fish with a bill through the body, as the emblem of the family of Byllyng, (Rawl MSS., in the Bodleian Library)."

A ling, states the dictionary, is a fish resembling a cod, so called from its lengthened form (Anglo-Saxon 'lang' meaning 'long'). A bill would, of course, be familiar as a country implement, and the two combined were a good instance of picture writing. Its position on the Red Lion may, one supposes, have indicated either that the family lived there, or that a hostelry bore this good wool merchant's arms. No trace of any carving like the description exists, but the landlord, Mr. James Green, has lately found when digging, and has set up in the yard a really beautiful example of 17th century stone mason's skill. It is an oval stone with slightly curved surface, surmounted by the heads of Cherubim, the sides ornamented with ancanthus leaves at the upper edges. The interior thus framed is innocent of inscription or signs of one, suggesting that the whole may have been a mason and stone-cutter's advertisement of his art, or that unforeseen circumstances (the plague ?) may have stopped an order's completion.

Among the practically vanished taverns is the Three Horse Shoes which was opposite the Volunteer ; where it stood, Mr. John Compton, fishmonger and poulterer, has his shop and dwelling. The beer-houses on Gorse's Green have gone, and their foundations under more modern houses are all that remain of others. When Mr. Alexander Fortescue took down a derelict cottage facing Church Lane in order to improve his garden, the last vestige of the once Butcher's Arms was effaced.

The Exhibition Inn is inhabited by that necessary village official, the dustman and scavenger. But its fine deeply grooved stone arch doorway of the perpendicular (15th century) period at once arrests attention. This is obviously an addition belonging to a building far anterior. The demolition of some historic pile was doubtless taken advantage of and this fine architectural relic of many carried away piece-meal, incorporated. Probability points to the Pilgrims' Rest as the origin, the dismantling and razing of Deddington Castle being too remote from the date of the inn's other part. This hostelry may, itself, be reasonably classed with those vanished with yesteryear. But what a tragedy was that vanishing we may learn from Brewer's History, which written in 1813 says the destruction took place in 1811.

There was pulled down,' he writes, 'about two years back, an extensive building of some interest which Gough mentions as 'an old inn, chiefly of stone, for pilgrims.' A neighbouring gentleman who examined this ancient structure immediately previous to its demolition, informs us that it then consisted of a north and south side, which bore marks of having been connected with each other at both ends by other buildings, so as to form a spacious court or quadrangle. The entrance was by a stone porch, through a large door which had a smaller aperture for common use. The small door had been decorated by heraldic devices, carved on the wood ; all of which were much defaced. On each side of the entrance were large apartments, separated by a stone wall of great thickness, in which were constructed the chimneys, and two flights of stone stairs, much worn away. The staircase on the left of the entrance led to the upper rooms on the right ; and the other on the right of the entrance led to the upper rooms on the left. All these apartments were wainscotted with oak, in carved and fluted panels ; and such of the ceilings as remained were ornamented with fret-work.'

Mr. Manchip in his Notes quotes a tradition that Piers Gaves-ton was imprisoned here and not in the Castle, but he remarks that the tradition is 'vague.'

The site of the Pilgrims' Rest is believed to be on the Banbury Road, on the same side as the School, but nearer to Deddington after crossing what is usually called Back Lane. The portion assigned to it by most authorities is in the garden extension belonging to the Hermitage, between the bordering lane and the Horse Fair, where indeed the holy man who gave his name to the property is supposed to have had his habitat.

The Plough is in yet another category ; for its massive, but not exceptional, elevation of gold coloured Cotswold stone, which the general form and 'drip courses' above the windows proclaim to be of the Jacobean domestic style not uncommon here—has a treasure and a mystery in the crypt beneath it. Mr. Marshall's Notes dismiss it in a few words :—'at the Plough Inn, in New Street, there is a cellar with a groined roof.' The History and Gazetteer of the County of Oxford, 1852, describes it as 'a vault used as a cellar, having groined arches supported by light columns, carved in freestone......of great antiquity and equal beauty.'

Brewer, the historian, notes it as 'the cellar of a dwelling now used as a public house, vaulted with groined arches of stone, springing at a short distance from the ground.' Mr. Manchip adds to his designation of 'a groined roof the remark that there is 'the appearance of a walled-up passage.' Vaulting and supports seem to belong to the 'decorated' period of architecture (14th century).

The crypt may have been the chapel of a religious order, to which supposition the occurrence of the name 'Black ffryers' (Dominican monks so called from the black cloak worn over their white habit) in ancient records of the town gives colour. And this chapel may well have become from its secluded position one of the 'Houses of Prayer' where Mass was said in secrecy after reformation law made the 'old' religious observances a penal offence.

The 'walled-up' legend has given rise to numerous fables. The Castle and the Church have both been named as objectives. But, as Mr. Thomas Smith reasonably points out, the lie of the land would make subterraneous communication with either impracticable. Although it may have, before bricking up, led 'somewhere,' the prosaic explanation is that 'the other side'—if there was one— ended in some bakehouse or store-room no longer needed.


To consider our licensed inns is to halt, fascinated, before those which were coaching houses too. The King's Arms, standing in the Horse Fair and visible from the high road, is a gracious gabled hostelry, long and rather low, coloured creamy white. Petrol pumps stand where ostlers and stable lads once clustered and the stable yard has cars instead of carriages 'on the wash.' In Kelly's Directory for 1852 it figures both as Commercial and Posting House and was kept by a Miss Ann East. The 'Rival' and the 'Regulator' were the coaches calling at the King's Arms. The 'Rival' left for Oxford every morning at half-past eight, also every evening at a quarter before five for Banbury. The 'Regulator' went to Banbury, Leamington and Warwick every morning at 10.30, and every day to Oxford at 3.30 p.m., the Oxford coaches meeting the Great Western Railway trains for London.

In spite of modernity and mechanising of traffic, an atmosphere of the olden jollity and leisure lingers about bars and the parlour where Mr. R. S. Hall, 'mine host', told me the following story which seemed to bring young 'bloods', striped 'tigers,' postillions and post-horses right on to the threshold.

"A brave breakfast such as earned for Tom Brown, on his way to Rugby School, the stage coachman's praise was in those days considered an indispensable foundation for a journey. One passenger evidently thought so and meant to do more leisurely justice to the King's Arms bill of fare than the time-table allowed. With the cracking of the whip, a clatter of hooves and gay sound of the horn the 'Rival' was off !

What is a seat booked and paid for to another wedge of game pie ? But the young man was not so simple. "Hi there ! Stop thief ! he's away on the coach with your silver spoons ! After him quick !"

Host, chambermaids, ostlers troop in at the guest's alarm. Yes, a glance shows that a clearance of table silver has been made. Saddle a good horse and overtake the the coach—bring back the thief to justice !

Again the 'Rival' is at the door, the guest climbs nimbly into his vacant seat, but not before he has waved a careless hand towards the great plated coffee pot. "Look in there—you'll find your spoons inside, and thanks for plenty of time for breakfast."

The roll of Quit Rents, dated June 14th, 1710, gives an altered title—'Queen's Arms' to the same house, a pretty compliment to Queen Anne.

The Unicorn Commercial Inn is square and imposing with a beautiful unicorn in white and gold. It commands the Market Place. The 'Queen' left there every morning for Oxford at half-past ten, calling at the Crown and Tuns, the 'Queen' again calling at both houses every evening at a quarter to seven on its way to Banbury. The 'quality', as noted in the chapter dealing with the Pavilion, used the dressing-rooms here and at the King's Arms when making their toilets in preparation for a ball after archery or other day-time diversions. A similar connexion with the 'rest and refreshment' of members of the hunt, still exists, though to a lesser extent. A stirrup cup, or its modern equivalent, and a cigarette, is enjoyed within those wide old-world precincts, whose mirrors often reflect the tittivation of fair faces and hats and veils.

What must have been frequently first and last as a pull-up for travellers nearing or leaving Deddington for Oxford was the Fox and Crown at North Aston turn. Though a farmhouse it is still called the Fox, and looks what it was. The last licensee was a spinster lady, and the Fox as a house of entertainment may be said to have expired in an odour of sanctity. At ten o'clock precisely the bar closed, customers as they filed out bidding their hostess a respectful goodnight. Then did barman, barmaids and any other servants repair to the parlour for prayers, and so to bed, admirably contradicting the reputation of Deddington proper as set forth in its local rhyme.