The ‘Lost’ Pubs of Bishop’s Castle are the 40 names of pubs and inns that have disappeared in the last two to three hundred years. Some names listed in recent times have turned out to be in the same building which were then renamed by new owners/landlords. Some have just been mistakenly passed down through generations.
Sources of information include Census records and Trade Directories, (however, business information in the Trade Directories is limited to those who paid for an entry), Returns of Licenced Houses (RLH), sale posters and documents. These are either in the House on Crutches collection held at Bishop’s Castle Heritage Resource Centre or at Shropshire Archives. Local knowledge and loan of relevant buildings deeds has also been invaluable.
From the earliest days, the freehold of land and properties rested in a few hands, who bought, sold and traded with each other, whilst the population went about their daily lives as farmers, shopkeepers, or pub ‘landlords’. As tenants, they each paid a rent (chief rent) to the owner, and some sub-let again (to under-tenant/occupier) and so on. The major landowners of the town and its immediate area – after the Bishop of Hereford was relieved of his holdings in the Dissolution – were the Warings of Owlbury, the Charltons, the Kinchants and latterly the Powis Estate, who bought up most of the others during the 18th century.
Documents from the Powis Estate have been extremely useful in tracking the landlords of the lost pubs, but they do not usually give addresses, just the names of the tenant and the pub. Buying the freehold of a building or plot became possible in the 19th century when the Powis Estate held a major auction in 1848 of some of its properties in town, (the sales particulars, giving names of occupiers, together with a plan of the town, was again very useful). The sale enabled businesses (some of them pubs) to own their building outright. Not all sold straightaway – The Old Black Lion in Church Street was finally sold in 1871!
One means of identifying landlords was a fortuitous find behind an old heater in the church – a list of Pewsitters of 1809 showing who was allowed to sit where. This was a privilege that came with ownership of land or property and is often recorded in deeds and leases of the time.
The numbering of buildings has only been used consistently in the Census from around 1911, which has made identifying householders etc much easier. All the buildings still exist, and can be visited on the ‘Lost Pubs Trail’ around the town.
Research is ongoing and information is being added constantly, so please check regularly for updates.
We would like to thank :-
Janet Preshous, illustrations from ‘Bishop’s Castle Well Remembered’
Janet and David Preshous postcard & image collection
Ray Farlow & David Trumper, ‘South Shropshire: ‘Postcards from the past’
Bishop’s Castle Heritage Resource Centre
House on Crutches Museum
The Trustees of the Powis Castle Estate
Bishop’s Castle Railway Society
ATD Evans postcard collection
David Wilkinson postcard collection
Rita Coxall postcard collection
Kate Price research and photographs.