the history of yeovil's pubs





nags head inn (2)

65 Reckleford


There had been an earlier pub with the Nags Head name that had been mentioned in leases of 1727 and again in 1751 but its location remains unknown.

The Nags Head Inn under discussion here however (marked 'B' on the map at left) was located on Reckleford, more or less opposite the Black Horse but a few buildings further down the hill.

The Nags Head Inn was a double-fronted, two storey building in rendered brick under a tiled roof. It was demolished in 1963 for the construction of Yeovil's Inner Relief Road (that part making Reckleford a dual carriageway) and its location would have been roughly where the current central reservation is now.

In February 1908 the renewal of the Nags Head Inn's 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 nearest inn was the Black Horse on the other side of the road, and the Glover's Arms was 355 yards, and the Market Street Inn 230 yards." Mr Hodge, appearing for the tenant and the owner stated "The trade was mainly out-door and steadily increasing.... the fact that the house was selling a hundred barrels of beer a year was sufficient evidence that it was required." The Charlton Brewery Company, the owners, stated that "trade during the past three years had showed a steady increase, and in 1907 amounted to 158 barrels."

Despite this, the Nags Head continued into the 1960s.



The earliest licensee I found was Lowman (or Loman) Mitchell. He was born in Yeovil around 1814 and by the time of the 1841 census he was single, a glover, and boarding in Higher Kingston. Ten years later, in the 1851 census, he was described as a glover and beerhouse keeper and was living with his wife, Mary, and their two small sons, Loman junior and Joseph, on Reckleford Hill. By 1861 he was described as a 'glover layer out' and lived with Mary and their seven children at Rakes Buildings, Reckleford. He later emigrated to Gloversville, USA, with his family.

John Hamblin was born in Yeovil around 1810 and is first recorded as licensee of the Dolphin Inn, in Belmont, in Robson's Somerset Directory of 1840. He appears with his wife, Hannah, in both the 1841 and 1851 censuses living in Belmont and is described in both as a grocer and beer retailer. They had no children. Hannah died in the summer of 1860 and by the time of the 1861 census John had moved to Rotten Row (today's Market Street), with a housekeeper, where his occupation was described as grocer. In 1866 he was listed in the Post Office Directory as the licensee of the Nag's Head in Reckleford and was listed as a beer retailer and grocer.

The next licensee, Robert Stephens, was born in Yeovil around 1819. The 1841 census listed Robert as a glover, living in Belmont with his first wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth died in April 1849 and in the 1851 census Robert was listed as a widowed glove cutter, aged 32, living in Rotten Row with his two sons; George aged 9 and Robert aged 6. Robert remarried in 1856 and by the time of the 1861 census he was living in Reckleford (which at the time was the name of today's Market Street) with his new Yeovil-born wife, Jane, 14 years his junior, his son George and Robert and Jane's baby daughter, Sarah. Both Robert and George described their occupations as glove cutters while Jane was a glove sewer. By the time of the 1871 census Robert, Jane and their baby son, John, were living at the Nag's Head where Robert was listed as a glove cutter and innkeeper and Jane was listed as a glove tambourer. Robert died in April 1877 and Jane took on the license of the Nag's Head until at least 1882.

The longest serving Nag's Head licensees were Ebenezer Giles and his wife, Mary Grace. Ebenezer himself was licensee from at least 1889 until his death just before the first world war.  His wife, Mary Grace, then took over the license until the early 1920's - a family total of over thirty five years. Ebenezer was born in Yeovil around 1850, the son of Yeovil-born glove cutter Henry Giles and his wife, Hannah. Ebenezer and Mary's son, Charles, was licensee of the Heart of Oak in 1911.

This was followed by a minimum ten year period with Frederick Wills as licensee and finally a fifteen year stint by P Hardy.




Notice of Sale by Auction of the contents of the Nag's Head Inn from the 12 July edition of the Western Flying Post.


Courtesy of Sarah Cobbold

Extract of Petty Sessions proceedings as reported in the 5 April 1867 edition of the Western Gazette. James was the son of James Allen, landlord of the Glovers Arms just yards away.


Report from the Western Flying Post's edition of 8 September 1871 concerning out-of-hours drinking on the premises.



This photograph was taken in the mid-1960's. The site of the Nags Head Inn today is marked by the central reservation of Reckleford, just down from the Black Horse.


Another 1960's photograph giving a bit more of the view of Reckleford Hill. Immediately beyond the Nags Head Inn are the buildings of the animal market.


This photograph, again taken in the early 1960's looks down Reckleford Hill from the Avenue / Court Ash crossroads. The entrance to the Avenue is at left with the sign of the Black Horse evident on the corner. At right is the entrance to Court Ash Terrace - this section of Court Ash was closed a short while after this photograph was taken and the whole area including the top section of Court Ash as well as all the buildings to the Nags Head was redeveloped as part of the widening of Reckleford.


The same scene in 2012.


An aerial view taken in 1928 of the Nag's Head (white building at centre) facing Reckleford with Market Street just visible at the right hand edge of the photo. Note the two glove factories to the left of the Nag's Head - now all roughly where the Reckleford central reservation is, just in front of the large vacant plot that was the market.



1851 – Lowman Mitchell – Glover & Beer House Keeper (1851 census) listed as Reckleford Hill
1859 – Walter Allen – Sale of contents (see Gallery)
1861 – family of James Allen, Glove Cutter, in residence (1861 census) listed as Nags Head Inn
1866 – John Hamblin – Beer Retailer and Grocer (1866 Post Office Directory) in Reckleford.
1866 – John Hamblin – Beer Retailer and Grocer (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1867 – James Gard Allen - fined for out-of-hours drinking (Petty Sessions)
1871 – Robert Stephens – Glove Cutter & Inn Keeper (1871 census)
1871 – Robert Stephens – Fines for keeping house open (see Gallery)
1872 – Robert Stephens – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1872 Directory)
1875 – Robert Stephens – Beer Retailer (1875 Post Office Directory) listed in Reckleford
1875 – Robert Stephens – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – Jane Stephens (48 year old widow of Robert above) – Glover & Beer Ho: (1881 census)
            listed as Nags Head
1882 – Mrs Jane Stephens (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Nags Head Inn
1889 – Ebenezer Giles – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1889 Directory)
1891 – Listed as Nags Head Inn. Two families in residence including Ebenezer Giles, a Coach
            Body Maker (1891 census)
1895 – Ebenezer Giles – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1897 – Ebenezer Giles – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1897 Directory)
1898 – Ebenezer Samuel Giles (Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1901 – Ebenezer Giles - Coach Body Maker (1901 census)
1903 – Ebenezer Samuel Giles (Whitby's 1903 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1907 – E Giles (1907 Yeovil Directory)
1911 – Mr Giles (1911 census Summary) listed as Public House but not named
1912 – Mary Grace Giles (Whitby's 1912 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1914 – Grace Giles – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named
1919 – Mrs MG Giles (Kelly's 1919 Directory - Beer Retailers) listed at 65 Reckleford
1923 – Mary Giles (Kelly’s 1923 Directory - Beer Retailers) pub not named
1935 – Frederick Wills (Kelly's 1935 Directory - Beer Retailers) listed at 65 Reckleford
1936 – F Wills (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head
1938 – F Wills (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head
1939 – Frederick Wills (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Nag’s Head Inn
1947 – Licensee not named (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head
1949 – P Hardy (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Nags Head
1951 – P Hardy (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head
1957 – P Hardy (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head
1960 – P Hardy (1960 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Nags Head even though it was
            demolished in 1963.