the history of yeovil's pubs





britannia inn (1)



Belmont and Park Street were built by Peter Daniel between 1825 and 1834 along the edge of his grounds on Pen Hill, so the building occupied by the Britannia Inn dates from after this time. This was the first incarnation of the Britannia Inn, appearing in the 1850's through '60's records such as trade directories and census returns. It was run for almost its entire existence by John Vickery.

It started after its licensee, John Vickery, had run a simple beerhouse in Vicarage Street but presumably found the establishment profitable enough to move to new premises and open a fully-licensed public house. By 1850 it is listed as the Britannia Inn in the Inns and Public Houses section of Hunt's Directory. It must have closed shortly after 1861 as there are no further references to it, it is seldom counted among the plethora of Park Street pubs and the later Britannia Inn was established in Vicarage Street by 1871.

Most of the houses in Belmont (not to be confused with Belmont Street that later ran off Addlewell Lane) were built in the 1830's and predominantly on the north side of the road. They were mostly demolished, along with nearly all of Park Street's buildings, in the 1960's. It is quite clear in the earlier records pertaining to the Britannia Inn, as listed below, that this earlier Britannia Inn is in Belmont or Park Street - which, at the time, ran into each other before becoming Brunswick Street near Hendford.

According to my late Yeovil-born drinking buddy, Roy Webster, this was the area most frequented by US servicemen stationed near Yeovil during the war simply because of the sheer number of pubs and it had something of a reputation as Yeovil's wartime red light district. I'm not saying that there were plenty of 'good time girls' in the area, but this road was apparently well known to have one of the highest wartime birth rates and, coincidentally, the largest number of GI brides!



There has been confusion in the past with this and the later Britannia Inn in Vicarage Street, with most people assuming they were one and the same licensed premises. This confusion has probably arisen because the licensee of the first Britannia Inn was John Vickery. However John Vickery is also recorded in the 1841 census as being a Grocer in Vicarage Street. The explanation is that he initially ran a beerhouse in Vicarage Street in the 1840's but had moved to Belmont and opened the Britannia Inn by 1850.  

John was born around 1800 in Sherborne, Dorset, and he and Hannah had at least seven children. In 1851 they were resident at the Britannia Inn and there were two other families, comprising another seven people, who were lodging at the Britannia Inn. By 1859 John had died, Hannah gave up the license and by 1861 had opened a grocery shop in Park Street.

Hercules Hodges was born in Yeovil around 1823, the son of a shoemaker, Thomas Hodges and his wife, Mary. By 1841 Hercules was recorded as a cordwainer (ie a shoemaker), he was married to Lucy, a gloveress seven years his senior, and they lived in lodgings on Hendford Hill. In the 1851 census Hercules and Lucy were living in a single room at 20 Hendford - one of many families living in the house. By the time of the 1861 census Hercules (mis-indexed in the computerised census return as Heracles), Lucy and their two children were living at the Britannia Inn where Hercules was listed as a cordwainer and inn keeper. By 1871 Hercules, Lucy and the two children were living in South Street where Hercules was listed as a cordwainer once again.

There are no further records of the Britannia Inn and it is assumed that when this establishment closed in the early 1860's the name was taken by the Vicarage Street Britannia Inn, first recorded in 1865.




1850 – John Vickery (Hunt & Co's 1850 Directory) listed as Britannia, Belmont
1851 – John Vickery – Victualler (1851 census) listed as in Belmont Street.
1852 – John Vickery – Inn Keeper (Slater’s 1852 Directory) listed as the Britannia, Park Street
1859 – Gillard (Harrison, Harrod & Co's 1859 Directory) listed as Britannia
1861 – Hercules Hodges – Cordwainer & Inn Keeper (1861 census) listed in Belmont.
1861 – Hercules Hodges (Kelly's 1861 Directory) listed as Britannia, Park Street