Helstonia – The New Inn – Church Street – Helston Circa 1750 – circa late 1920s
THE NEW INN
Church Street – Helston
Circa 1750 – c. late 1920s
“There are two main reasons for a pub to have this name. First, because it is a new pub, newer than others nearby. The other and more interesting source dates to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. That monarch travelled the land to demonstrate that peace and prosperity had arrived and was bothered by the scarcity and condition of the inns. She directed that new inns be built for the benefit of travellers.” Pub Signs, Paul Corballis, Lennard Books, 1988.
Helston’s New Inn undoubtedly owed its name to the first and more mundane circumstance. Without documentation, the existing frontage is difficult to date; rural vernacular architecture changing little between the mid-17th and mid-19th centuries. The inn came into being probably during the mid-18th century. It does not feature in An Account of the Taverns, Brandy Shoppes and Ale Houses in the Borough [Helston], which dates from the early 18th century (no later than 1732). This document is lodged in the Cornwall Record Office and was used by the late Mr. H.L. Douch as an appendix to his book Old Cornish Inns. The first record of a New Inn in Helston occurs in the Borough licensing records of 1777-’79, which name William Drew as landlord. He was followed in 1781-’83 by Joseph Hendy. There is then a gap in the records of almost 40 years. By 1822 the landlord was Thomas Martin, who is named in town directories, and who placed this notice in the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 2nd March 1822.
STOLEN from the stable of the New Inn,
in the borough of Helston on Saturday
the 16th of February inst.
A DARK BAY MARE,
About 13 hands high, with three white feet and
a white snip in her face.
She is supposed top have been taken away by
a man travelling with a false brief, under a
feigned name, and who is between 40 and 50 years of age.
Whoever will give information of the said
Mare, so she may be had again, to Thos.
Martin, of the New Inn, aforesaid, shall receive
20 SHILLINGS REWARD
Should the Mare be found in possession
of any person after this public notice, such per-
son will be prosecuted with the utmost rigor of the law.
Helston, February 26, 1822
Thomas Martin continued as landlord until at least 1830, but seems to have been succeeded two years later. The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 28th July 1832 carried this news: “On Tuesday evening a large furze rick containing 3000 faggots behind the New Inn in Helston, took fire, supposed by a spark from the chimney of the smith’s shop: the flames soon reached two ricks of hay that were near, and these together with the stables and brew house were completely destroyed By the exertions of the inhabitants the inn itself, which was on fire, was saved, as was the house in Church-street occupied by Mr. Huddy. No lives were lost. We understand [the assumed proprietor] Mr. Treloar’s property was insured.”
By 1841 the New Inn was in the possession of the Allen family. The West Briton of 9th July 1841 noted: “Births – At Helston; also on the 2nd instant, the wife of Mr. H Allen of the New Inn, of a daughter.” The West Briton of 21st July 1846 noted: “Deaths – At Helston, on the 13th instant, Mr. Allen of the New Inn, in that town, aged 47 years.” A town directory of 1847 still names Henry Allen as landlord of the inn. Mrs. Mary Allen, presumably Henry’s widow, appears as landlady in directories of 1856 and 1862. The succession after this becomes somewhat puzzling. The West Briton of 21st January 1869 announced: “Births – At the New Inn, Helston, on the 19th instant, the wife of Mr. G. Lory, of a son.” George Lory is named as landlord in the directory of 1873. Curiously, Mrs. Mary Allen returns as proprietor in 1878. A notice in the West Briton of 29th September 1881 reported: “The license of the New Inn, Church-street was transferred from Louisa Arthur (late Louisa Lawry) to James Arthur, her husband.”
This announcement is intriguing on two counts. The similarity between Lory and Lawry indicates sloppy reporting and/or editing on the part of the newspaper (by no means unprecedented) and a possible connection between the Allen and Lory families.
In any case, by the following year a new landlord was in residence as witnessed by this quite dramatic court report in the West Briton of 21st December 1882. “HELSTON – A CRUEL HUSBAND – Alfred Gilbert, the landlord of the New Inn, was charged before magistrates at the Helston Guildhall on Tuesday with ill-treating his wife. The complainant was too ill to attend the court on Monday, and on Tuesday her appearance indicated that she was seriously ill. She said that for a long time she had lived in bodily fear of her husband who frequently drank to excess. When ‘not in liquor’ he behaved properly and did not attempt to injure her, but she was always afraid, and when he drank he threatened to take her life and had attempted it. About three weeks since he was intoxicated and in bed, and he sent her down during the night three times for drink. Because she would not go a fourth time he attempted to strangle her. She had frequently sent for a constable to protect her. On Saturday night he turned her out into the the yard, and she remained in the stable only partly dressed until four o’clock in the morning, when he let her in. She could not escape from the house because the door was fastened. On Sunday morning she sent for Constable Fitzsimmons [William Fitzsimmons, elder brother of champion boxer Bob] and asked him to take her husband in charge, as he was threatening to kill her. Fitzsimmons went for P.C. Wedlock, and before he returned her husband assaulted her and beat her head against the wall, rendering her senseless. She asked for a magisterial order to live apart from her husband. – The Mayor told the prisoner that he had been guilty of most brutal conduct toward his wife. His plea of being intoxicated was no excuse at all. He would be imprisoned for one month with hard labour, and the Bench ordered a judicial separation, prisoner to allow his wife 10s per week.”
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Gilbert was gone by the following year. Kelly’s Directory of 1883 lists William Pearce as landlord. In what one assumes to be another editorial mix-up the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 30th March 1883 announced: “The license of Mr. A. Jenkin, from the New Inn, Chruch-street, was transferred to Mr. A. Pearse.”
In 1889 Stephen Curnow was named as landlord, followed by 1893 and through 1897 by Samuel Thomas Oates. At sometime during this period the inn had been acquired by the Redruth Brewery, and by 1898 the landlord was William John Juleff. The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 25th August that year reported: “Helston Brewster Sessions – Mr. A.E. Radcliffe, on behalf of the Redruth Brewery Company Limited, applied for a license of singing and music at the New Inn, Church-street. There was strong opposition to the application, and it was refused as unnecessary.”
At the same Sessions the local police Inspector reported that there were 18 licensed houses in the town: 15 full; one beer, wine and sweets off. Of the 15, seven had seven-day licenses. There had been 11 drink-related convictions during the past year. None were of the innkeepers and the houses had been fairly well conducted. Both the reaction to the music license application and the Inspector’s comments [fairly?] lead one to believe that in some respects not a lot has changed in Helston over the past century or so.
Mr. Juleff continued as landlord through at least 1902, but by 1906 had been succeeded by Edward Lancastle. In an evocative photograph from this period the New Inn sign names E. Lancastle as proprietor. However, in May 1906 the inn’s license was transferred from Mr. Lancastle to George Oates of Marizion.
The Royal Cornwall Gazette of 3rd December 1908 announced: “Births – Wearne – At the New Inn, Helston, Nov. 19, the wife of Mr. E.J. Wearne, late Q.M.S. Royal Artillery, of a daughter.” Mr. Wearne is not recorded as landlord elsewhere but it seems unlikely that his wife would be giving birth on the premises if they were merely guest.
Kelly’s Directory of 1910 lists Abednego Thomas as landlord of the New Inn. His tenure must have been quite short, for the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 29th September 1910 announced: ” The death of Master William Thomas Jeffery, only son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery of the New Inn, Helston, took place on Thursday after a lingering illness at Redruth Hospital, at the early age of 14. The deceased had been under medical attendance for some time.” This tragedy may have been eased for Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery the following spring, when the 4th May edition of the same periodical noted: “Births – Jeffery – At the New Inn, Helston, the wife of Mr. Jeffery (late of India) of a daughter.”
Mr. Jeffery’s tenure continued through 1914. The final two recorded landlords of the inn were Edgar John Balsdon, 1919, and Percy Newton Pickerdean, 1923-’26.
The New Inn disappears from the roster of Helston public houses by 1930, possibly closed by Compulsory Order with compensation. The building, which has since been converted into flats, is not Listed but is in a Conservation Area and no alteration of its frontage may be undertaken without official Council permission.