the history of yeovil's pubs





sun inn (2)

Grope Lane (Wine Street)


Grope Lane was mentioned in the Woborn Muniments of 1431 and comprised the modern Wine Street and the southern part of Union Street which, until the 19th century, was one continuous road joining the Borough with Back Street (the present South Street).

The references to the Sun Inn (A on map at left), listed below, do not indicate which part of Grope Lane was graced by the presence of the Sun Inn but by inferring its location relative to other known locations in the census return, it was almost in the Borough and was next door to George Bollen's Case is Altered.

The Sun Inn was an alehouse and certainly was extant in 1695.

The Western Flying Post in April 1790 reported on two suspected arson cases in outhouses behind the Greyhound Inn in the Borough. There was, however, some confusion at the time concerning which public house was burnt as the following was recorded at the court "Alexander Pearce, born at Sherborne, in the County of Dorset, aged 19, was executed at Ilchester, 20 August 1790, for setting fire to the Sun Public House at Yeovil in this County. Denied the fact to his last moment, though unquestionably guilty." (Thomas G Rees, Ordinary to Ilchester Gaol, 1789-1821). The amount of damage to the pub is not known.

From my collection

A contemporary sketch of Ilchester Gaol.


The animation at left shows the development of the Grope Lane / Wine Street premises from 1800 through 1880.

In 1729 the landlord, a Mr Shearstone, was recorded in the Window Tax lists as liable for six shillings tax for the year - "Shearstone for ye Sunne" - indicating that it was a substantial property with between ten and twenty windows.



I have an indenture in my collection, dated 3 January 1756, for the sale of a property in Grope Lane. From later leases it is known that the property in question, although not named in this document, was the Sun Inn.

Another vellum indenture in my collection being a "lease for a year of a messuage or tenement burgage and Inn called The Sun situate in the parish of Yeovil in the County of Somerset dated 23 December 1840, Messrs Thomas Lemon, Mason of Stalbridge, Dorset, and Samuel Dean blacksmith of Yeovil and occupant of property to Mr William Bide, glove manufacturer of Yeovil." On this lease the first named occupant of The Sun was Lionel Farley, then Sarah Leverage, then Mary Nossiter, then Henry Lillington, then Edmund Batten, then John Batten Snr, then Samuel Dean. Of these, certainly William Bide, Edmund and John Batten were the owners of the property rather than landlords.


From a document in my collection

Edmund Batten's signature on a deed dated 1793, for the Sun Inn in Grope Lane. At this time Edmund Batten appeared in his role as solicitor.


From a document in my collection

John Batten the Elder's signature on a deed dated 1807 for the Sun Inn. At this time John Batten appeared as a solicitor and at this time Edmund Batten purchased the Sun Inn.


The 1793 Universal British Directory listed Mary Nossiter as a victualler of the Sun Inn in Grope Lane, today's Wine Street. Although Mary was listed as the licensee of the Sun Inn is almost certain, as was normal practice, that she would run the pub during the day while her husband John Nossiter, a carpenter, worked and then he would take over in the evenings. In 1815 there was an interesting bankruptcy reported for John Nossiter whose creditors included maltsters from as far away as Bristol and the Yeovil brandy merchants, Bullock, Watts & Cayme the Younger. For further information - see here.

Very little is known about Thomas Colborne other than he was born about 1786 outside Somerset and he appears in Pigot's Directory of 1822 as the licensee of the Sun. In the 1841 census he is listed as a 55-year old labourer living with his wife (?), Mary, aged 70.

Samuel Dean, born about 1791, is first mentioned as licensee of the Sun Inn in Pigot's Directory of 1824 and makes several more listings in various trade directories up until 1840. In a lease (see note below) dated 23 December 1840 he is noted as a 'Blacksmith of Yeovil'. The owner of the inn at this time was William Bide. In the 1841 census Samuel is listed as living in Middle Street with his wife, Sarah, two daughters, Sarah and Frances, and a son, James. Both Samuel and James described their occupations as smith. Samuel died in 1851, aged 60.

Samuel Russell was born around 1790 and is listed in the 1841 census as a beer seller living with his wife, Harriett, and their three daughters. Samuel died in 1850 and in the 1851 census Harriett and one of their daughters was living in Bond Street





Note: In the indentures referred to above, it is possible to establish the following list of owners and/or occupiers of the Sun Inn.

  • John & Henry Priddle of Tintinhull (owners) until sale of 1765 to Lionel Farley Snr

  • William Knott, licensee from 1756

  • Lionel Farley Snr (1731-1806) - owner of property, 1765-

  • Grace Farley nee Glyde (1733-1812), widow of Lionel Farley Snr - owner of property

  • Lionel Farley Jnr, son of Lionel Farley Snr - owner of property before Sarah Leverage

  • Sarah Leverage - former owner and occupant of property before Mary Nossiter

  •  Mary Nossiter (listed below in 1793) - former owner of property before Henry Lillington

  •  Henry Lillington - former occupant of property after Mary Nossiter

  •  Edmund Batten (died 1836) - former owner of property before John Batten

  •  John Batten - former owner of property before Samuel Dean




From my collection

An original pastel and pencil sketch on paper (255mm x 190mm) of Charles Pyne's establishment 'Under Bow', showing part of the Wine Street elevation at left. The taller building next down Wine Street would have been the Sun Inn.

The sketch is by artist Walter Francis Tiffin (1819-1890) of Salisbury, Wiltshire - although at the time of this sketch he was in Sherborne. An attached label reads "Sherborne, W Tiffin, 1865" and a second label, in pencil, reads 'By W F Tiffin'.


From my collection

An enlargement of the previous image, looking down Wine Street from the Borough. The taller building to the rear is the only known image of the Sun Inn.

The building known as Under Bow was destroyed by fire in 1861 and finally demolished within the following two years. Its removal allowed for the width of Wine Street to almost double to today's width.




1695 – Licensee not listed but listed as The Sun (Notes of LC Hayward)
1729 – Shearstone for ye Sunn (Window Tax)
1756 – William Knott - owner (see 1756 Indenture)
1760 – Licensee not listed (Poor Rate Book) listed as the Sun
1769 – Lionel Farley - owner (see 1769 Indenture)
1790 – Licensee not listed, but the Sun Inn was damaged through arson (see above).
1793 – Sarah Leveridge – owner (see 1793 Indenture)
1793 – Mary Nossiter – Victualler (1793 Universal British Directory) listed as Sun
1807 – Mary Nossiter – Victualler (see 1807 Indenture)
1810 – Mary Nossiter – Victualler (see 1810 Indenture)
1822 – Thomas Colborne (Pigot’s 1822 Directory) listed as the Sun
1824 – Samuel Dean (Pigot's 1824 Directory)
1827 – Samuel Dean (1827 Jurors List)
1830 – Samuel Dean (Pigot’s 1830 Directory) listed as the Sun
1835 – Licensee not named (Robson's 1835 Somerset Directory) listed as Sun, Wine Street
1839 – Samuel Dean (Robson’s 1839 Directory) listed as the Sun
1840 – Samuel Dean (1840 Somerset Gazette Directory)
1840 – Samuel Dean, occupier - William Bide, owner (Lease dated 23 Dec 1840) called the Sun
1841 – Samuel Russell – Beer Seller (1841 census) pub not named
1842 – Samuel Russell – Retailer of Beer (Pigot’s 1842-4 Directory) premises not named
1845 – R Tucker (Notes of LC Hayward)





Occupant of the Sun - 1d. (Poor Rate Book)


"Alexander Pearce, born at Sherborne, in the County of Dorset, aged 19, was executed at Ilchester, 20 August 1790, for setting fire to the Sun Public House at Yeovil in this County. Denied the fact to his last moment, though unquestionably guilty." (Thomas G Rees, Ordinary to Ilchester Gaol, 1789-1821)