the history of yeovil's pubs





cross keys (2)

Belmont / Park Street


This was the second Cross Keys Inn, the first Cross Keys being an 18th century inn in the Borough. Park Street and Belmont were built between 1825 and 1834 by Peter Daniell, so the Cross Keys dates from after this time. It began life as a beerhouse in the wake of the Beerhouse Act 1830.



The first licensee, Joseph Ridout, was born around 1812 in Street, Somerset. In the 1841 census Joseph's occupation was listed as a labourer and he, his wife Emma and their baby daughter, Mary Ann, were living in Belmont.

It seems likely that Joseph bought a two-guinea beerhouse license because in 1842 Pigot's Directory Joseph was listed as a retailer of beer.

Although there is no mention of it for two decades, Joseph clearly kept the Cross Keys beerhouse for some thirty years. By the time of the 1851 census the family was still in Belmont where Joseph, Emma and their two daughters were all listed as glovers, but there was no mention of beer. Again in 1861 there was still no mention of beer, Joseph was listed as a glover and his two daughters, Mary and Sarah, now aged 24 and 21, were both described as milliners. The family also now included Joseph and Emma's four year old son, Edwin. The 1871 census is the first time that the beerhouse is named as the Cross Keys and Joseph is listed as a beer house keeper and glover. Mary Ann was a dress maker and Sarah remained a milliner. Edwin was employed as a pupil teacher. Emma died in 1874 and by the time of the 1891 census Joseph, aged 79, was 'living on own means' in 20 Brunswick Street (same street as the earlier Belmont but closer to Hendford) with his unmarried daughter, Mary Ann, now aged 48 and listed as a milliner and mantle maker. Joseph died in 1896 aged 85.

David Little was born about 1839 in Chilthorne Domer, just a mile or so north of Yeovil. He was the son of agricultural labourer John Little and his wife, Sarah. By 1861 David was an agricultural labourer like his father and four younger brothers but by the time of the 1871 census David and his wife, Sarah, were living in the Crown Inn in Huish, where David was employed as the cellarman. Within ten years David and Sarah had moved to Belmont where David became licensee of the Cross Keys and was noted as a beerhouse keeper in the 1881 census. He appeared in Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser after which he disappears from the records.

Walter Horsey was born about 1833 in Chilton Cantello, five miles north of Yeovil, the son of shopkeeper John and Elizabeth Horsey. By 1851 John's father had died and his mother was running the shop while Walter worked as a gardener. By 1861 Walter, still a gardener, was living in Chilthorne with his laundress wife, Mary. 1871 saw a young son and baby daughter and by 1881 there were two more children. In 1889, after a lifetime of working as a gardener in the countryside, William had suddenly uprooted his family, moved into the town an started running a beerhouse. His licensee-ship of the Cross Keys was, however, relatively brief as by 1891 Walter Horsey had moved to Othery, Somerset, to run the King Alfred Inn.

The following licensee, William Sansom, was born in Sherborne, Dorset around 1868, the son of John Sansom, a mason's labourer, and his wife Eliza. By 1891 William was aged 23 and was running the Cross Keys Inn in Park Street where he was listed as a baker and lived with his wife, Alice, and their baby son, William. By 1894 William was licensee of the Butchers Arms in Hendford, where he stayed for only a couple of years and by 1901 William and his family were living in Wareham, Dorset, where he had returned to his old profession of bread maker.

Born around 1869 in Bridport, Dorset, George Gough was noted in the 1901 census as a leather parer and innkeeper at the Cross Keys with his wife, Alice, and four young children. It was a very short tenancy as by 1903 Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser was listing Thomas Sansom as licensee which must have been something of a caretaker role as in the same edition of Whitby Ellen Hallett is also listed as the Cross Key's licensee. Ellen was born about 1849 in Martock and in the 1901 census is listed living at the Quicksilver Mail as a 52-year old domestic servant. Ellen was noted as licensee of the Cross Keys Inn in the 1907 edition of the Yeovil Directory but she died in the summer of that year.

In February 1908 the renewal of the Cross Keys' license was objected to (amongst others) at the Borough Petty Sessions as the Bench deemed it was "very desirable that a further reduction be made" in the number of Yeovil's public houses. The license was considered at the Petty Sessions the following month when Police Sergeant Boobyer gave evidence that "the landlady had told him they were doing nothing (in the way of trade) and should be glad when it was over. The nearest inn to the Cross Keys was the Swan, 120 yards away, and the Golden Lion was 223 yards away. The Volunteer Inn was 390 yards off. In witnesses opinion there was no trade there  and the house was not fitted for the trade. The accommodation was inferior to that of the Swan, and in his opinion the house was not required for the locality." It appears that the Cross Keys had been a bit of a troublesome hot-spot during the tenure of its final licensee, Frank Taylor, and the Bench seemed determined to close it down and ".... notices of objection were being served in connection with this house with the object of it being closed." Nevertheless they granted a transfer of the license to James Lillington.

In July 1908 a final session was held regarding the fate of the Cross Keys at which time it was disclosed that the owner of the house was Walter Henry Baxter of the Dorsetshire Brewing Company of Sherborne and the licensee was Mr J Lillington. The license was refused and the house was referred for compensation.

After 1908 the Cross Keys Inn disappears from the records and the premises became a lodging house. Most of the houses in Belmont (not to be confused with Belmont Street that later ran off Addlewell Lane) were demolished, along with nearly all of Park Street's buildings, in the 1960's.


Yeovilians remember...

The following is taken from a Western Gazette clipping of some twenty years ago (for the full text click here). As newspapers do, they have got some bits wrong - thanks to Rob Baker for the corrections in blue.

"One of the two lodging houses was the Cross Keys. It was run by Mrs Florence Essex's grandmother and later by her own father Walter Thorne (this should read Benjamin Thorne). Park Street boys had a reputation for being tough and Mrs Essex's brother Harry was no exception. He set up a boxing ring in the cellar and even used to go a few rounds with the local police chief. Mrs Essex's sister, Mrs Helen Baker (this should read Penelore Baker), lived at the Cross Keys and said they could have 14 men staying in the house and her mother and her sisters would still be safe."





From this piece in the Western Gazette of 7 February 1908 it appears that the Cross Keys had been a bit of a troublesome hot-spot during the tenure of Frank Taylor and the Bench seemed determined to close it down. They succeeded in July of that year.


Many thanks to Rob Baker who sent me the above photograph. It is a clipping from the Express and Star of some twenty years ago and the photograph had been sent in by Flo Essex (Rob's great-aunt) - the photograph shows Rob's great-gran, Florence Thorne (at left) who ran the Cross Keys lodging house in Park Street with her mother and father. She is pictured outside the Cross Keys with her own mother, Helen (Rob's great-great-gran at centre), and daughters Caroline and Theresa. 




1841 – Joseph Ridout – Labourer (1841 census)
1842 – Joseph Ridout – Retailer of Beer (Pigot’s 1842-4 Directory) pub not named, in Belmont
1850 – Joseph Ridout – Beer Retailer (Hunt & Co's 1850 Directory) listed in Belmont
1851 – Joseph Ridout – Glover (1851 census)
1852 – Joseph Ridout – Retailer of Beer (Slater's 1852/3 Directory)
1861 – Joseph Ridout – Glover Leather (1861 census)
1861 – Joseph Ridout – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1861 Directory)
1866 – Joseph Ridout – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1871 – Joseph Ridout – Beer House Keeper & Glover (1871 census) listed as Cross Keys
1872 – Joseph Ridout – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1872 Directory)
1875 – Josiah Ridout (sic) – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – David Little – Beer House Keeper (1881 census) listed as Cross Keys Inn
1882 – David Little (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Cross Keys Inn
1885 – Mr Horsey – License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, April)
1889 – Walter Horsey – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1889 Directory)
1891 – family of William Sansom, Baker, in residence (1891 census) pub name not given.
1892 – William Sansom - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1892 – William Treasure - License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
            Previously at the Rustywell beerhouse
1894 – Mr Shire (a Royal Marine pensioner) granted license (Petty Sessions)
1898 – F Taylor (Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Cross Keys Inn
1901 – George Gough – Leather Parer & Innkeeper (1901 census) listed as Cross Keys Inn
1903 – Thomas Sansom (Whitby's 1903 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Cross Keys Inn
1903 – Ellen Hallett (Whitby's 1903 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Cross Keys Inn
1907 – Ellen Hallett (1907 Yeovil Directory) listed as Cross Keys Inn, 111 Park Street
1908 – Frank Taylor - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, February)
1908 – James Lillington - License transfer pending (Borough Petty Sessions, February)
1908 – Dorsetshire Brewing Co, Sherborne - owners (Borough Petty Sessions, July)
1908 – J Lillington - licensee - License refused (Borough Petty Sessions, July)