Life & Customs

17th July 2012 - The Cliff Hotel and Pleasure Gardens were a popular destination for visitors to Cheddar Gorge in Victorian times, and in particular there were regular excursions from Wales across the Bristol Channel by steamer. This new article by Brenda Anderson gives an insight into these popular day trips. The full text of the article can be read HERE

19th June 2012 - Inns and Alehouses have always been an important part of village life, particularly in the Victorian period. The article I have written gives a brief account of the drinking establishments to be found in Cheddar in the period 1860 - 1880, many of which survive to the present day, although not all in their original buildings. The full text of the article can be read HERE


  1. Very interesting article on Inns & Alehouses, thank you. I believe one of the "Bush" alehouses was situated at Burnacott in Church street. Henry Budgett, Maltster and Brewer certainly lived in Church Street in 1841 and members of his family were living in Burnacott at the end of the 19th century.

    Budgett's brewery was known as the "Cheddar Brewery" (from a receipt dated 1853 for 18 gallons of beer for £1,10 shillings!). I have heard that his brewery was adjacent to the (old) Bath Arms on the west side.

    In the 1881 census I found an Inn Keeper and farmer, Francis Flower and his wife Elizabeth, a "Beer retailer" living at no.1 Bullmere Street. I am assuming this is the Kings Head despite the address!

    I understand that there was a bar at Cheddar railway Station, not sure if that counts?

    The origin of the "Bush" name for pubs and alehouses is quite interesting. Here is one of the possibilities:
    Wine bars in ancient Rome hung bunches of vine leaves outside as trading signs but when the Romans came here, they found precious few vines in the inhospitable climate. Instead, they hung up bushes to mark out the inns and the names Bush or Bull & Bush still survive.

  2. Thank you for your nice feedback John. We have the Budgets in Sungate, which is next to Burnacot I think. I would be interested in your reasons for thinking it might have been one of the "Bush" alehouses - it is an interesting property which we have not looked at yet. Your Cheddar Brewery receipt is also interesting, I believe the original brewery was on the site which was subsequently occupied by Christchurch, then the Cinema and is now The Homestead. If you look at the photograph on our landing page you can just see it behind the market cross. The brewery moved to a location behind the old Bath Arms sometime around 1860.

  3. Hi David. I lived at Burnacott for a number of years and contacted the deputy Somerset archivist to see if he could find out anything about the property. All he came up with was that it had been in the hands of the church and brewers. Years later in an article written by Robert Hill in the Cheddar Village Diary of March 1997, Robert stated that one of the Bush Inns was at the site of Burnacott and Roley House (the solicitor's office). In fact the properties have been there for a good many years so "site of" is probably not appropriate. In the Burnacott deeds there is mention of a conveyance on the property between Henry Budgett (presumably Jnr.) and a Rev Sidney Dunman (Baptist minister) dated 1891 and a vesting deed in favour of Susan Mary Budgett dated 1928. I also have a copy of the Will and Codicils of Mr Henry Budgett dated 1943, in which there is a "Shop and premises" and "House and Premises", both in Church Street (tithe nos. 551 and 552). I think they may have owned both Sungate and Burnacott/Roley House at some time.

    This is all the evidence I have. A connection between the Budgetts and the house and the article by Robert Hill. Maybe wishful thinking but a convenient place to sell his brewing products! Roley House was later Durston's butchers and I have a couple of old photos of this. However I suspect this was after the alehouse era.

    It's a while since I looked at all this but I do have an interest in the history of local pubs. I have traced all the publicans at the Bath Arms through the 1841 - 2011 censuses and was interested to note that until the 1871 census it was recorded as being in "Play Street". Bath Street first appears as an address in the 1871 census (which made it quite hard to find).

    I have all the documents referred to above and would be very happy for you to view and copy them if you wish.

    Kind regards John

  4. Hello again John, thanks for the reply,your information is very interesting and I think it would be useful for us to make contact outside of this Blog but I don't know if you live locally or not. As a suggestion, if you could reply to this with contact details I will simply not publish your response on this blog.

    Regards, David.