At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Chequers Public House was owned by Mary Warren. Mary also occupied the Chequers her husband, William Warren.
An Abstract of Title (extracts of deeds) refer to William Warren as a victualler (a person licensed to sell alcohol) of Great Ellingham. Accordingly, I think it is reasonable to assume that William Warren was the licensee of the Chequers in the early 1800s.
Owners & Occupiers before 1800
Mary Warren inherited the Chequers Public House (and other nearby property and land) from her first husband, Charles Barnard, who was also likely a former licensee of the Chequers. Charles died at a relatively early age in 1796, and left the property to Mary, but only for her lifetime.
We also know from the above mentioned Abstract of Title that the Chequers Public House (or at least the building itself, as I do not know when the building became a public house) that Charles Barnard’s grandfather purchased the property (and other nearby properties) from William Mallows and his wife Mary.
I do not know the exact period that William and Mary Mallows owned the Chequers. However, given that the property came to Charles Barnard (in 1782) via his grandfather and then his father, it could easily have been around 1750.
The Norfolk Record Office holds a marriage licence bond dated 20th October, 1745 between William Mallows and Mary Dey both of Great Ellingham, relating to an intended marriage between the couple in Little Ellingham. This couple may well be the William and Mary Mallows referred to in the Abstract of Title as being previous owners of the Chequers.
Extract from 1802 Map of Great Ellingham. Original held at Norfolk Record Office. Russell James Colman Plans. Cat. Ref. C/Ca 1/84. With kind permission of NRO
The black dot on the above extract from an 1802 map of Great Ellingham shows the position of the Chequers Public House.
1800 to 1850
Mary Warren (the wife of William Warren and the widow of Charles Barnard) died on the 10th July, 1808. On her death, the ownership of the properties which Mary had inherited from Charles Barnard (including the Chequers Public House) passed to her three surviving children: Charles William Barnard (born about 1783) a wheelwright, John Robert Barnard (born about 1785), a victualler, and Ann(e) Elizabeth Chaplin (born 14th March, 1788) the wife of Edmund Chaplin, a wheelwright. All were living in Great Ellingham.
Owner: Shelford Bidwell
I am uncertain as to which of Charles Barnard’s children actually inherited the Chequers. However by the end of 1818, Shelford Bidwell Esq of Thetford was the owner of the Chequers Public House. By an Indenture of the 11th December, 1818, Shelford Bidwell covenanted with Edmund and Ann Elizabeth Chaplin (neé Barnard) for the production of an abstracted Indenture of the 30th April, 1813, which not only related to the Chequers Public House but land and/or property owned by Edmund and Ann Chaplin (Charles Barnard’s daughter and son in law). (See also ‘Two Cottages on the road from Great Ellingham to Hingham’)
A survey of Great Ellingham of 1817-1819 also states the owner of the Chequers Public House to be Shelford Bidwell. The Chequers was said to be then occupied by Charles Stubbins.
Occupier: Charles Stubbins
Charles Stubbins (Stubbings) married Charlotte Watson in the parish church at Wicklewood on the 25th April, 1809. Although of Wicklewood at the time of his marriage, Charles was baptised in the parish Church at Little Ellingham on the 5th June, 1785. His parents were Charles and Rebecca Stubbings (neé Smith).
The couple had at least two children in Wicklewood (Thomas born May 7th, 1809 and Michael born 12th May, 1811), prior to moving to Great Ellingham before their daughter Sarah was baptised in the Church of St James on the 18th April, 1813. The baptism entry records Charles Stubbings’ occupation as a butcher. It is not unusual to find that licensees of public houses had an additional occupation or trade.
Two further children of Charles and Charlotte Stubbings were baptised in the Church of St James: Charles in December, 1817 and Burton in May, 1819.
Tragically for the family, just four months after the baptism of his baby son Burton, 33 year old Charles Stubbings was buried in the churchyard of St James, on the 12th September 1819.
Owner: Leonard Shelford Bidwell
Three years after the death of his tenant, Charles Stubbings, Shelford Bidwell also died and was buried at St Mary’s Church, Theford on the 1st July, 1823. He was 69. An ‘Estates and Occupations Collected’ of Great Ellingham c.1840, tells us that the Chequers Public House was at that time owned by Leonard Shelford Bidwell, a son of Shelford Bidwell.
Occupier Robert Lebbell
Following Charles Stubbings death in 1819, the next licensee of the Chequers Public House was Robert Lebbell. White’s Directory of 1836 lists Robert Lebbell as a victualler at the Chequers in Great Ellingham.
Robert Lebbell is still at the Chequers Public House in 1841. However by 1851, he is licensee of the Crown Public House in Great Ellingham.
Owners: Bidwell & Co., Bullard & Son and Watney Mann
Shelford Bidwell and his son Leonard were of the Thetford brewing company, Bidwell & Co., which was founded in 1710. The Chequers Public House in Great Ellingham was one of 99 public houses in Norfolk which were once owned by Bidwell & Co. Although changing hands in c.1902, the company remained trading under the name Bidwell & Co. until it was procured by Bullard & Son in 1924. Later the Chequers was acquired by Watney Mann, and Watney Mann (East Anglia) Limited closed the public house in 1969. Today, the property is a private residence.
The Chequers Public House Great Ellingham. The sign of ‘Bullards’ is clearly visible. Courtesy of Attleborough Heritage Group
Following the departure c.1850 of Robert Lebbell to the nearby Crown Public House, the Chequers had a new tenant by the name of James Chaplin. James was licensee for at least the period 1851 to 1854.
John Brown was victualler at the Chequers around the period 1861 to 1864. On the 26th June, 1864, Great Ellingham innkeeper and miller, John Brown and his wife Charlotte took their three children (Thomas aged 4, John who was just a month from his third birthday, and nineteen month old William), to St James’s Church for baptism.
The previous year, in the June of 1863, John Browne, miller of Great Ellingham, brought single woman Elizabeth Peas before the Magistrates at East Harling for stealing a pair of drawers! Elizabeth was found guilty and committed to prison for three months’ hard labour.
John Brown’s tenure as licensee was followed by George Orford who seems only to have been at the Chequers around 1868-1869.
By 1871, the Chequers Public House saw a period of stability when Ellis Carter took over. He remained licensee for at least the next thirty years.
Chequers Public House during the tenure of Landlord Ellis Carter. Courtesy of Ray Beales
Ellis Carter, the innkeeper of the Chequers Inn, Great Ellingham appeared at the East Harling Petty Sessions in September, 1876. He was charged with supplying brandy to John Love, a shoemaker, of nearby Rockland All Saints, whilst he (John Love) was in a state of intoxication. He was found guilty and fined £2 10s with £1 0s 6d costs. John Love was fined 5s with costs of 17s 6d for being drunk on the same licensed premises. The offences had taken place on the 20th August.
In addition to being the licensee of the Chequers, Ellis Carter was a farmer. Widowed, now in his late seventies, and after some 30 years at the Chequers Inn, Ellis Carter ‘called it a day’ in 1908.
Notice of a forthcoming auction being held at the Chequers Inn, Great Ellingham appeared in the Eastern Daily Press of the 2nd October, 1908. The sale commencing at 2pm the next day, would be conducted by auctioneer, W.S. Hall, on the instructions of Ellis Carter, who was said to be leaving the Chequers Inn.
Amongst the agricultural implements, machines, carriages, harness and other effects being sold were two tumbrels, a dealer’s cart, pulper, shredder, double cake breaker, Norfolk plough, iron horse roll, pig troughs, bullock bins. Also being sold was 3 cwt of cotton and linseed cake, several lots of old iron and a part stack of barley straw.
By 1911, the Chequers Public House was being run by 36 year old Jacob Beales and his wife Isabella. Isabella was a daughter of the previous licensee, Ellis Carter. Jacob was licensee at the Chequers for at least ten years.
Chequers Public House. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of Ray Beales
By 1925, Charles Jaggs was licensee. He was still at the Chequers in 1937.
Focal Point in the Community
The Chequers Public House has certainly witnessed the comings and goings of several families (and patrons) over the last two to three hundred years. No doubt some customers were more the worse for drink than others!
Since the building was purchased by Shelford Bidwell c.1815 until it was sold by Watney Mann (East Anglia) c.1969, the property was occupied by brewery tenants.
A focal point in the community, the Chequers may have been one of the places in the village where the Lords of the respective Manors held the Manorial Courts. Auctions and inquests were also held at the Chequers. One such inquest was held there in 1885 following the death of labourer, Charles Halls.
1799 Statement of Claims. Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: MC 2213/118
1800 Inclosure Commissioner’s Particulars and Valuation. Great Ellingham.Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: MC 2213/119
1802 Russell James Colman Plans. Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: C/Ca 1/84
1799-1842 F W Horner, Records of the Surveyors to Commissioners for Inclosure in Parishes in Norfolk and Suffolk. Great Ellingham (Act 1799). Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: BR 90/2
1842 Abstract of Title. John Gall Jnr. lands in Great Ellingham sold to Wm Rose 1st November 1842. Wymondham Town Archive. Council Offices, Ketts Park, Harts Farm Road, Wymondham. NR18 0UT. Reference ID 11773
Norfolk Pubs Website. https://www.norfolkpubs.co.uk/norfolkg/gtellingham/gtelch.htm Accessed 11 December 2020
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 609. Also available at www.familysearch.org
20th October 1745 Marriage licence bond: William Mallows and Mary Dey. Norfolk Record Office. Catalogue Ref: ANF 12/11/375
Wicklewood Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 130. Transcription available https://www.freereg.org.uk
Hingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 575. Transcription available https://www.freereg.org.uk
Thetford St Mary Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 169. Transcription available https://www.freereg.org.uk
Bidwell & Co, Old Market Street, Thetford, Norfolk. http://breweryhistory.com/wiki/index.php?title=Bidwell_%26_Co accessed 11th December 2020
1841 census HO107/781/8
1851 census HO107/1823/133
1861 census RG9/237/81
1871 census RG10/1841/89
1881 census RG11/1974/196
1891 census RG12/1549/74
1901 census RG13/1867/71
1911 census RG14/11473/115
1836 White’s Directory. Norfolk Record Office.
1864 White’s Directory. Attleborough Heritage Group, Community & Enterprise Centre, Church Street, Attleborough.
1925 & 1937 Kelly’s Directories. Attleborough Heritage Group
June 27th, 1863 Norwich Mercury
September 30th, 1876 Norfolk Chronicle & Norwich Gazette
October 2nd, 1908 Eastern Daily Press