Postcard of Chequers Lane. Courtesy of Carol Ewin
Although the Chequers Inn is mentioned in the census returns of 1841 and 1851, it is not until the census of 1861 that the name Chequers (or Chequer) Lane appears. It is therefore difficult to establish how many households were living in what we know today as Chequers Lane in 1841 and 1851.
Further, whilst the census returns since 1861 refer to Chequers Lane, the extent of what we know to be Chequers Lane today may not have been so in earlier times.
1841 – Chequers Inn
The 1841 census reveals 30 year old Robert Lebbell, a blacksmith, at the Chequers Inn with his wife Elizabeth (3) and children Robert aged 3 and one year old Harriet.
1851 – Chequers Inn
Ten years later, the census shows Innkeeper, James Chaplin aged 34, living in Town Green with his wife Jane and children Elizabeth 3 and Charles aged 6 months.
The Norfolk Pubs Website records James Chaplin as licensee of the Chequers Inn from 1851 to 1854. Accordingly it appears that the road abutting the Chequers Inn was included as being part of Town Green in 1851. At this time, Robert Lebbell with his wife and family had moved to the Crown Inn in Church Street.
1861 – Chequers Lane
The 1861 census reveals six households living in Chequers Lane:
60 year old widow Sarah Clarke (born in Great Ellingham), described as a nursewoman, is living with her unmarried daughter 21 year old Sarah A Clarke and grandchildren Naomi and Robert Clarke aged 8 and 3 respectively. 65 year old Sarah Chaplin, also a widow, is boarding with the family.
Next door is the Fox family. 48 year old Robert Fox, an agricultural labourer born in Great Ellingham, is with his wife Martha and children James 26, William 10, Mary A aged 8 and four year old Charles.
35 year old John Brown (born Besthorpe) is now the Innkeeper at the Chequers Inn. With John Brown is his wife Charlotte and children Clara 3 and one year old Thomas.
67 year old Robert Wilkin described as a carpenter is in Chequers Lane with his wife Hannah. They were both born in Great Ellingham.
Another household comprise of widow Elizabeth Chaplin aged 73 and her 49 year old son George, a carpenter.
Finally, 69 year old widow Lydia Barnard described as a grocer is in Chequers Lane with her widowed son, 40 year old Charles, a carpenter.
1871 – Chequers Lane
Ten years later, the census again shows six households living in Chequers Lane:
35 year old Ellis Carter is the Innkeeper at the Chequers Inn. With Ellis is his wife Elizabeth and children John aged 9, Sarah Ann 7, Joseph 5 and Rosa aged 1. Ellis and the children were born in Great Ellingham; Elizabeth in Hingham.
Lodging at the Chequers Inn is 65 year old widower, Aaron Lane, a baker, born Deopham and 50 year old single man Robert Spurgeon described as a drover and born in Great Ellingham.
Ellis Carter would remain at the Chequers Inn for at least the next thirty years.
Also in Chequers Lane is married couple Robert and Mary Dawes. Robert aged 60 is described as a labourer and born in the village. His wife, 11 years his junior, was born in Frettenham.
Another household in Chequers Lane is headed by farm labourer, 39 year old James Fox (also born in the village). James is with his wife 29 year old Emily and sons Charles 5, James 3, William 2 and seven month old daughter Rebecca. Perhaps James Fox is related to the Fox family who were in Chequers Lane ten years earlier.
Widowed since the last census, Robert Wilkins remains living in Chequers Lane.
Land owner, 44 year old widow Hannah Brigman born in nearby Rockland St Peter has now moved into Chequers Lane along with her children – Charlotte 17, John 15, Lydia 12 and seven year old Mary Ann. Whilst Charlotte and Mary Ann were born in Great Ellingham, John and Lydia were born in St Pancras, Middlesex.
Chequers Lane’s grocer and general dealer is 27 year old, Great Ellingham born, William Wilkins. With William is his 23 year old wife Ann Amelia described as a straw bonnet maker. The couple have two sons 3 year old Thomas and Walter Edwin aged eleven months. Both children were born in the village. The family has a 21 year old unmarried servant Mary Ann Base who was born in nearby Little Ellingham.
1881 – Chequers Lane
There are five household listed as being in Chequers Lane in 1881:
Ellis Carter is still at the Chequers Inn. Now aged 50, Ellis is described as a machine man (agricultural machinery) as well as an Innkeeper. Since the last census (in 1871), wife Elizabeth has died and Ellis has remarried – his wife is now 45 year old Happy Carter. Ellis’s son 14 year old Joe is assisting his father in the pub and the other children listed are Rose 11, Isabella 9, Lily 6 and five year old Kate.
51 year old single woman Emily Warren is living as a companion to 76 year old widow Eliza Lovett. Both women were born in Great Ellingham.
Widow Mary Ann Youngs described as a nurse and 52 years old is living alone in Chequers Lane.
Nearby is widow Frances Long aged 69. Frances has a boarder, 56 year old single man John Musk described as a gentleman.
Finally in 1881, 55 year old nurse Hannah Wilkins heads a household which includes 22 year old Lydia Bridgman. Lydia, unmarried, is a teacher of sewing at the Board School. She was living in Chequers Lane with her mother and siblings ten years earlier. 68 year old Drover Robert Spencer is also with Hannah and Lydia.
1891 – Chequers Lane
1891 sees a reduction in the households said to be in Chequers Lane to four.
Ellis Carter now aged 62 and once again widowed, is still at the Chequers Inn. The census now describes him as a farmer and Innkeeper. His son Josiah (presumably Joe from ten years earlier), is a thrashing machine proprietor and an employer (as is his father). Ellis’s 21 year old daughter Rosa is the housekeeper; daughter Katie aged 15 is still at school. Ellis’s elderly mother, 91 year old Rebecca Carter, is with the family.
William Bird is a coal hawker and grocer. Aged 27, William was born in Great Ellingham. With him is his 36 year old wife Anna. The census describes Anna as a grocer’s assistant.
Born in nearby Attleborough, 82 year old William Johnson is the shoemaker in Chequers Lane with his wife 66 year old Sarah and son 25 year old Fred, described as a grocer’s assistant. Perhaps Fred is working for neighbour William Bird?
33 year old employed bricklayer Richard K Carter is living in what the census describes as a ‘Private House’. Richard has a wife Anna and children Annie 9, Charles William 5 and eight month old Lucy May. Lodging with the family is 17 year old bricklayer’s labourer William Moore.
1901 – Chequers Lane
The 1901 census shows just three households living in Chequers Lane:
Once again, Ellis Carter is at the Chequers Inn. His 29 year old daughter Isabella is keeping house for her father. Another daughter Lily (aged 26) is described as a draper’s assistant.
Widowed since the last census, 76 year old Sarah Johnson is still living in Chequers Lane. She is said to be living on means from her own family.
Great Ellingham man, 39 year old Robert Beales is the shoemaker in Chequers Lane with his wife Ellen, a grocer. Both are stated to be working at home. The couple have seven children: Henry aged 17 and described as a cattle tender on farm, Robert 15 a shoemaker’s apprentice (presumably working for his father); 13 year old Birt (Bert?) a baker’s apprentice making bread, and Luther 8, John 6, Herbert 4 and Ethel aged seven months.
1911 – Chequers Lane
There were four households living in Chequers Lane at the time of the 1911 census:
Shoemaker, Robert Beales, and his wife and children are still in Chequers Lane. The census reveals that Robert and Ellen have completed 28 years of marriage and they have had 12 children (three of whom have died).
Their home consists of five rooms (which includes the kitchen but excludes any bathroom, closet or shop). The children listed on the census are Robert aged 25, Luther 18, Ernest 16, Herbert 14, Ethel 10, Ellen 7 and two year old Lily Kate.
77 year old widow Lydia Loveday is living alone. Her home consists of four rooms.
Nearby is 66 year old widow Elizabeth Chilleystone with her grandson 8 year old Oswald Powell Beales (born Great Ellingham). Elizabeth’s home also consists of four rooms.
Finally, 36 year old Jacob Beales is now the licensed victualler at the Chequers Inn which comprises 6 rooms (but, again, would not include any shop, closet or bathroom). Three year old Ernest William is living with his parents.
Jacob Beales married Isabella Carter in 1903. Isabella was the daughter of Ellis Carter who had been the previous licensee of the Chequers Inn for some thirty years.
Changes in Chequers Lane
I understand from a lady growing up in the village in the 1930s that Chequers Lane once had high banks either side and that the lane went in a straight line across to the Hingham Road. It was not until after the Second World War that the junction was widened and the school corner altered.
Today, there are dwellings on both sides of Chequers Lane. The Chequers Inn is now a private house.
GRO Index : http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=N7WJWDdqdjSf3UJDx9GQjw&scan=1 – accessed 22.05.2019
Norfolk Pubs Website http://www.norfolkpubs.co.uk/norfolkg/gtellingham/gtelch.htm accessed 22.05.2019
1841 census HO107/781/8
1851 census HO107/1823/111; HO107/1823/133
1861 census RG9/1237/81
1871 census RG10/1841/89; RG10/1841/90
1881 census RG11/1974/96
1891 census RG12/1549/74; RG12/1549/73
1901 census RG13/1867/71
1911 census RG14/11473/115;RG14/11473/116; RG14/11473/117; RG14/11473/118
Postcard – Carol Ewin Collection