the history of yeovil's pubs





Britannia Inn (2)

26 Vicarage Street


The Britannia Inn (marked 'A' on the map below) was originally a fine 17th century two-storey brick house with stone and ashlar to the front elevation with a double-storey projecting bay. It served as a public house from 1861 - after the closure of the Britannia Inn listed in Belmont / Park Street from 1842 to 1861.

The Britannia Inn in Vicarage Street was initially run by William Gaylard from the early 1860's and he is mentioned in the Minutes of the Volunteer Fire Brigade following a fire at the Britannia in 1865 (see Documentation below). A further fire in 1880 completely destroyed the Britannia Inn although it was rebuilt later.

It is interesting to note that the Minutes of the Volunteer Fire Brigade, following the August 1880 fire, elected to charge Mr J Brutton for attending the fire. John Brutton was the owner of Brutton's Yeovil Brewery and this entry clearly indicates that the Britannia Inn was a tied house that actually belonged to the brewer.

This version of the Britannia Inn was demolished, brick by brick, in 1969, to make way for access to the goods entrances of stores in Middle Street, and to the Vicarage Street car park (the compulsory purchase order for the car park was prepared in 1962). The materials used to build a private house at Ash (see photograph left). This newspaper cutting of the early 1970's showing the Britannia Inn rebuilt (and somewhat extended) at Ash with the new owners, Aubrey and Kitty England.




In 1861 William Gaylord (or Gaylard) was a 43-year old Martock-born glove cutter living in Vicarage Street with his wife, Sarah, their six children and a couple of lodgers but within five years he was the first licensee of the newly-opened Britannia Inn. In the 1871 census William, Sarah and two of their children are living at the Britannia Inn with just one lodger, a 24-year old unmarried glover by the name of John Kibby. William was described as a glover and beerhouse keeper but I really don't think the Britannia was ever a beerhouse and must have been a brewery-owned premises with a full public house license from the very beginning. The 'beerhouse keeper' is simply another example of sloppy categorisation by a census enumerator. William and Sarah then disappear from the records.

Yeovil-born John Kibby was the son of Mary Kibby but his father is unknown. In 1841 Mary Kibby was living in Wellington Street with her sons James, age 4, and Samuel, age 3. Ten years later she was still in Wellington Street, listed as a widowed laundress and living with the two boys plus John, aged 9, and Mary, aged 4. The family was still there in 1861 although by this time James had moved on and John was listed as a glover aged 18. By 1871, as seen above, John was boarding at the Britannia Inn and ten years later he was its licensee. By this time John was married to Emily and lived at the Britannia with their two daughters and son plus John's older brother James who was described as a 42-year old unmarried pensioner. By 1891 John and Emily were living at 53 Kiddles Lane (Eastland Road) with their four children and John was at this time listed as a stone cutter.

The next licensee, William Bicknell, had enjoyed a career as a Royal Marine and in the 1861 census was listed as a Royal Marine private at sea aboard HMS Trafalgar, a 120-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 21 June 1841 at Woolwich Dockyard. She was the last to be completed of the successful Caledonia class. The ship was named by Lady Bridport, niece of Lord Nelson at the request of Queen Victoria, who with Prince Albert also attended the launch. The wine used was some kept from HMS Victory after returning from Trafalgar. Five hundred people were on board the ship at the time of its launch, of whom 100 had been at Trafalgar. William had been born in East Chinnock in 1827 and his wife, Elizabeth, was born in Haselbury Plucknett. In the 1871 census they were listed as living in Haselbury and William was described as a Plymouth Pensioner. By 1875 he was licensee of the Quicksilver Mail and in 1881 he was running the Heart of Oak in Huish. By the time of the 1891 census he was licensee of the Britannia Inn with Elizabeth. By 1901 William had died and Elizabeth was alone and 'living on her own means' in Orchard Street.

Joseph Chant was born in Sherborne around 1866, the son of Philip and Mahala Chant. In 1871 and 1881 Philip, who was a chimney sweep, was living with his family at his father-in-law's house in Sherborne. The father-in-law, Joseph Coles, was also a chimney sweep so it is no surprise that Joseph Chant became a sweep too. By 1901 Joseph was living at 82 Middle Street with Jane Burgo, some 12 years his senior, and their baby daughter, Mary Mahala. Again, Joseph described his occupation as sweep. By 1898 Joseph was advertising himself in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser for the Britannia, of which he was now licensee, and  advertising himself as a 'Practical Sweep, Dealer in Turf, etc.' By the time of the 1901 census Joseph and Jane had married, were living at the Britannia and Joseph was listed as a publican and sweep. Joseph, Jane and Mary were still all living at the Britannia in 1911 and Joseph placed his last advert in Whitby's in 1912. By 1914 the Britannia Inn had a new landlord.

The new licensee was Job Mitchell. Job was born in Fordington, near Dorchester, Dorset, around 1868. He was the son of a journeyman blacksmith, Joseph Mitchell, and his wife, Sarah. Between 1897 and 1912 Job was licensee of the Wellington Inn in Wellington Street.

In the 1901 census he described his occupation as carpenter and inn keeper and lived in the Wellington with  his wife, Sarah, and their three children and by the 1911 census the only difference was that Job described his occupation as carpenter. By 1914 he was licensee of the Britannia Inn, where he was to remain until at least 1923. His son, Earle Mitchell, was killed in action in Egypt in 1917.







This photograph features in my book "A-Z of Yeovil"

The Britannia Inn, photographed in 1942.


The Britannia Inn photographed in the mid-1960's.


A mid-distance photograph of the Britannia Inn and adjoining cottages taken about 1968.


From the Cave Collection. Courtesy of South Somerset District Council

... and seen from the opposite direction, again in the 1960s.


This photograph, taken about 1968, shows the location of the Britannia Inn in relation to remaining buildings - at left the old Co-Operative store and offices (later Porter Blacks) next is the entrance to Middle Street, Britons shop was the Woolwich Building Society and is now a bookmakers, at centre is the entrance to Vicarage Street and the building with the white rectangle is the Britannia Inn. To the right are buildings still existing and now occupied by the Abbey Building Society, at far right is the Coronation Hotel & Vaults in front of which are the underground toilets, now the location of the bandstand.


A 1928 aerial view of the junction of Vicarage Street (running across the centre of the photo) and Middle Street (running from bottom left towards centre top). At lower right is the Methodist church and above it, next to the spire, is the Britannia Inn.




1861 – William Gaylard – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1861 Directory)
1865 – William Gaylard (Volunteer Fire Brigade Minutes)
1866 – William Gaylard – Beer Retailer (1866 Post Office Directory)
1866 – William Gaylard – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1871 – William Gaylord – Glover & Beer House Keeper (1871 census) listed as Britannia Inn
1872 – William Gaylard – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1872 Directory)
1875 – William Gaylard – Beer Retailer (1875 Post Office Directory)
1875 – William Gaylard – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – John Kibby – Innkeeper (1881 census) listed as the Britannia Inn at 25 Vicarage Street
1891 – William Bicknell – Publican (1891 census)
1895 – William Bicknell – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1898 – Joseph Chant (Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Britannia Inn
1901 – Joseph Chant – Publican & Sweep (1901 census)
1911 – Joseph Chant – Publican & Chimney Sweep (1911 census)
1912 – Joseph Chant (Whitby's 1912 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Britannia Inn
1914 – Job Mitchell – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named.
1915 – Job Mitchell (Whitby's 1915 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as 26 Vicarage Street
1919 – Job Mitchell (Whitby's 1919 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as 26 Vicarage Street
1923 – Job Mitchell – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) pub not named
1929 – G Ransome – see next item
1929 – LA Higglesdon – License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, October)
1935 – Arthur Baker (Kelly's 1935 Directory - Beer Retailers) listed as 26 Vicarage Street
1938 – AE Baker (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Britannia
1939 – Harry Harris (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Britannia Inn
1949 – H Harris (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Britannia
1955 – H Harris (1955 Yeovil Directory)





Fire at the Britannia Inn, Oct 2/65. Alarm of fire at 3am in Vicarage Street at the Britannia Inn occupied by Mr Gaylard - the Brigade called - the Engine taken out but not used., several members attended. (Volunteer Fire Brigade Minutes)

Meeting 6 Octr... Proposed by Mr Ryall, seconded by Mr Bradley, That £2 be charged for the Fire at the Britannia and carried. (Volunteer Fire Brigade Minutes)


Sept 2nd. Proposed by Mr Moffat that £7.10.0 be Charged to Mr J Brutton for attendance at the Fire in Vicarage Street, Yeovil, August 25th-26th. Seconded by Mr Damon. Carried. (Volunteer Fire Brigade Minutes)

7 Oct. Proposed by Mr Edwards that Seven Persons (names noted) who helped at the Fire in Vicarage Street Augt 25-26 be paid 5s. each. Seconded by Mr Damon. Carried.
Proposed by Mr Edwards that White (Engineer) be paid One Pound one Shilling 1.1.0. for his services at the Fire in Vicarage Street, Augt 26th &c... Seconded by Mr Damon. (Volunteer Fire Brigade Minutes)

There is in Vicarage Street, a fine stone gable, which formed part of the Britannia Inn, destroyed by fire this year (1880), but since rebuilt.
(Whitby & Sons, Description of the Town of Yeovil, 1880)


Grade III - No 26 Vicarage Street - Britannia Inn.
This front has the appearance of being rebuilt in the 19th century although 17th century in style. A four-centered arched doorway internally suggests an ancient origin. Part of the front is local stone rubble, part Ham stone ashlar masonry. Three storeyed splayed bay has stone mullioned windows and gabled roof. On left hand side windows are four-light with stone mullions. 'Fish-scale' roof tiles. Gable ends with stone parapets. Nos 27 & 28, Two-storey cottages adjoining above. Probably early 19th century. The above two items form a Grade III group. (Ministry of Town & Country Planning - Yeovil Municipal Borough Provisional List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest. July 1948 - Vicarage Street.)