the history of yeovil's pubs





volunteer inn / tavern

20 Hendford


The Volunteer Inn (marked 'A' on the map at left) was located on the junction of Brunswick Street with Hendford and seems to have alternated between being called the Volunteer Inn and the Volunteer Tavern with monotonous regularity.

From the first years of the recorded licensees listed below it would appear that the Volunteer Inn doubled as a grocery and may, technically, have started life as a beerhouse although the constant use of a name would suggest otherwise. Nevertheless in the 1881 census it was referred to as the 'Volunteer Beerhouse'.

In fact we know from the 1842 Tithe Map and the associated 1846 Tithe Apportionment that George Rendell, a bright smith (silver smith) owned the property. He and his wife Elizabeth lived in part of the building while the landlord and grocer Silas Griffin lived with his family above the inn / shop.



Yeovilians remember...

Many thanks to Stephen Sharpe for the following - "My maternal grandfather was licensee of the premises from 1949-1960. He was C.W. (Cecil William George) White (1905-1972). I was born in 1955 and lived there afterwards with my parents, my auntie & uncle, and of course, grandparents. I have always had vivid memories of the pub: the bar, the staircases, the brown-stain decoration, the hen-coops & filbert tree in the garden."


The first licensee recorded was Silas Griffin. He was born around 1802 at West Pennard, Somerset. In the 1841 census Silas was living in Hendford and working as a grocer in the Volunteer Inn premises next to Hendford Terrace. His wife, Ann, and 13-year old son Alfred lived with him. Ann died in December 1842 and Silas married Mary Maby in Yeovil in October 1844. In the 1851 census Silas was listed as a grocer and innkeeper. By this time Silas' son Alfred had left home and Silas and Mary had two sons of their own; James and William. Silas, Mary and William were still living in Hendford in 1861 but Silas' occupation had reverted to just being a grocer - whether or not he was still running the Volunteer Inn can only be assumed. Mary died in December 1870 and, by the time of the 1871 census, Silas had retired and was living as a retired grocer in Huish Lane with his son James and his young family. Silas Griffin died in March 1873.

The next licensee, Luke Burt, was born around 1821 at Odcombe, three miles west of Yeovil. I couldn't trace his early life with certainty as there were at least two men of the same age called Luke Burt in Odcombe at that time as well as an older one. In the 1851 census Luke was living at the top of Reckleford Hill (where it converged with Back Kingston) with his North Cadbury-born wife Temperance and two of their children; William aged 18 and 14-year old Jane. Luke gave his occupation as gardener while Temperance and Jane were glove sewers and William was a glove cutter. By 1861 the children had left home and Luke and Temperance had moved to Leigh, Dorset, eight miles southeast of Yeovil. Luke was still a gardener. By 1866 Luke was licensee of the Volunteer Inn and listed in the 1871 census as innkeeper and grocer. Living with him were Temperance, Jane and granddaughter Elizabeth. In the Western Gazette's edition of 1 October 1869 it was reported that Luke was fined £1 and 15s costs at the Borough Petty Sessions for "having unjust cups and weighing machine" on his premises. Luke died on 19 November 1874, aged about 53. His will was proved on 22 December and stated "The will of Luke Burt late of Yeovil in the County of Somerset Beerhouse Keeper and Shopkeeper who died 19 November 1874 at Yeovil was proved at Taunton by Jane Burt of Yeovil Spinster the Daughter the Sole Executrix." The effects were 'under £200'. On his death Temperance took on the license and was listed as the licensee in Kelly's Directory of 1875.

John Charles Jesse Martin was born in Yeovil around 1852, the son of shoemaker John Martin and his glove sewer wife, Thirza, both of whom were from West Camel. In the 1861 census John was living with his parents and older sister, Elizabeth, in Park Street. Ten years later and John was still living at home with his parents in Belmont Street and was now describing his occupation as a tailor. In the spring of 1875 John married Jane Burt, daughter of Luke and Temperance Burt above, in Yeovil, and it is most likely that John and Jane were running the Volunteer Inn from the time of her father's death the previous November. Jane was eleven years older than John and in the 1881 census he was aged 29, she was 40. They were living at the Volunteer, where John was listed as innkeeper, with their two children, Elizabeth and Ernest, and Temperance, John's mother. Temperance died in the winter of 1882 and, certainly by 1889, John and Jane moved on. In the 1891 census they were living in Queen Street with John working as a tailor, Jane as a tailoress and their daughter Elizabeth as a glover. By 1901 John and Jane were living at 73 West Hendford and John continued working as a tailor. Living with them was son Ernest and another daughter, Lily. In the 1911 census they were still at West Hendford. Jane died in the winter of 1912, aged 73, and John died on 17 July 1938 aged 86.

William Benjamin Ramsdale was born December 1846 in Newington, Southwark, London and I first found him in the 1871 census living in Lambeth, south London, working as a porter. By the following year he had moved to Yeovil and in October 1872 married Emily, who was ten years his senior. In the 1881 census he was listed as a beer house keeper and grocer with Emily at 7 Market Street. Although the premises weren't named in the census, Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of the following year listed William as licensee of the Market Street Inn at that address. William then ran the Volunteer Inn at Hendford before moving to Rimpton, five miles northeast of Yeovil, in May 1890 to open a Co-operative Stores there. He lived in Yeovil a total of twelve years. In the 1891 census he and Emily were living in Rimpton where William was a grocer and shopkeeper. They were still in Rimpton in 1911 when William was listed in the census as a shopkeeper and Emily was listed as his assistant. William died in March 1930, aged 84.

Charles William Mead was born in 1857 in East Coker, the son of farm labourer Robert Mead of Ilton and his laundress wife, Mary. In the 1861 census Charles was living with his parents and one-month old brother Daniel in Ilchester Road, next door to Marlclose Farm. Ten years later the family was in the same house but Daniel was not present and two new sisters, Susan and Kate, had been born. Robert's occupation was listed as scavenger and occupier of 5 acres of land. In 1875, at the age of 18, Charles married Mary Ann Mathews of Odcombe, nine years his senior, and in the 1881 census they were living at 102 Middle Street with their four-year old daughter, Lottie, and three-year old Frank. Charles gave his occupation as dairyman & provision factor. In the 1891 census the family were living at the Volunteer Inn where Charles was listed as publican and grocer and Lottie, now 14, was listed as a grocer's assistant. Living with them was Mary's widowed mother, Susan Mathews. By 1895 they had moved on and the 1901 census listed Charles as innkeeper and farmer at the New Inn (now the Helyar Arms) in East Coker, with Mary, Arthur and two servants. By 1911 Charles and Mary were living at Dogwell Farm, Halstock, six miles south of Yeovil where Charles described himself as a farmer. Mary died in 1915 aged 67 and the following year, at the age of 59, Charles married Ethel. Charles died in the New Forest, Hampshire in 1935, aged 78.

The next licensee, Edward Few, was listed as a beer retailer and shopkeeper in Kelly's Directory of 1895 but the only other reference to him that I could find was in the 1901 census when 36-year old Edward, a stone saw repairer from Endington, Wiltshire, was lodging in Orchard Street.

William Florence, or Florance, was listed as licensee of the Volunteer Inn in Kelly’s 1897 Directory and Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. However there was no William Florence in Yeovil either in 1891 or 1901 so the trail went cold.

Alfred Saunders was born at Beaminster, Dorset, in 1861, the son of carpenter William Saunders and his wife Caroline née Oaten. In 1881 he was living with his parents and brother in Crewkerne where, at the age of 19, he was employed as a grocer's assistant. In 1891 he was lodging in Crewkerne with his brother-in-law's family and giving his occupation as grocer but in the summer that year he married Emily Sansom in Honiton, Devon. In 1900 he was listed as the licensee of the Volunteer Inn in Whitby's 1900 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser and in the census the following year, with Emily and daughter Doris, he was listed as the Volunteer's innkeeper and grocer. By 1903 Alfred had left the Volunteer and the 1911 census found him living at 59 Beer Street with Emily and their two daughters, Doris and Mildred. In the census Alfred gave his occupation as commission agent. He died in Yeovil in the winter of 1950, aged about 80.

Albert Edward Axe was born in 1870 in Yeovil, the son of groom and coachman Mark Axe and his wife, Mary née Purchase. In 1871 Albert was living with his parents at Houndstone, Yeovil. By 1881 the family were living in West Coker and Albert had two younger brothers, Frank and Archibald. The 1891 census found Albert, now aged 21, living in Bishopsgate Police Station, London, as a constable of the City of London Police. On 31 December 1895 Albert married Agnes Heley of Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, in London. In 1897 Albert and Agnes had a son, Albert, who was born in the City of London and was followed by two brothers, Percival and Stanley, both born in Bethnal Green. In the winter of 1890-91 the family moved back to Yeovil and in the 1901 census Albert was listed as a beerhouse keeper at Rustywell. By 1903 Albert was running the Volunteer Inn in Hendford but he died in the spring of 1904 aged just 34.

Vincent Moore was born in 1880 at Stanford Bridge, Worcestershire, the son of farmer Vincent Moore and his wife, Fanny. In 1901 24-year old Vincent was employed as the butler at Trent Manor House, two miles northeast of Yeovil. In 1907 Vincent was listed in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser as the licensee of the Volunteer Inn. By 1911 he was aged 31 and was living with his 20-year old wife of one year, Gladys, and his five-year old daughter Hilda, at the Railway Inn just a few yards away at the bottom of Hendford Hill. Both Vincent and Gladys were listed as licensed victuallers.

George Henry Gregory was born about 1880 at Stratton Common near Midsomer Norton, some thirty miles north northeast of Yeovil, the son of agricultural labourer George Gregory and his wife, Elizabeth née Gardner. In the 1891 census George is listed with his parents and three brothers living at Butleigh, fourteen miles north of Yeovil. By 1901 George was a 20-year old agricultural labourer still living in Butleigh with his widowed mother and younger brother Ernest, who worked as a shepherd. In the summer of 1908 George married Elizabeth Mary Greaves of New Higham, Derbyshire, at Yeovil. By the time of the 1911 census George and Elizabeth were living at the Volunteer Inn although George's occupation at that time was listed as a domestic groom, so presumably Elizabeth ran the pub during the day and George took over in the evenings. George and Elizabeth ran the Volunteer Inn for the next 36 years or so with the last reference to George as licensee in the 1947 edition of the Yeovil Directory.

Cecil William George White (photographed at left) was licensee from 1949 to 1960 and ran the pub with his wife Lilian, known as 'Queenie'. Cecil had previously been the steward for the Yeovil Labour Club (thanks to Stephen Sharpe for the info).

Cecil was followed by Victor Cook who took over the license in 1960. Victor was licensee of the Full Moon in Wine Street from the mid-1930's and for the next twenty years or so, leaving in 1954 to run the newly-opened Milford Inn in Milford Road but by 1960 he was running the Volunteer Tavern for its final few years.


Sketch Plan of the Volunteer Inn


This is a sketch based on plans held at the Heritage Centre, Taunton. The original plans are dated 1930 when The Dorsetshire Brewery Co Ltd of Sherborne were the owners. It was at the time these plans were submitted that the single storey Tea & Club Room, the wash house and coal store were added.




Courtesy of Rob Baker

From a newspaper clipping and shows customers of the Volunteer Inn and their families about to board a coach for Exmouth. It was taken in 1949. Also many thanks to Stephen Sharpe for identifying his granddad, landlord Cecil White, as the chap at right standing between the two men wearing flat caps. His wife Lilian, known as 'Queenie' is second from left.


The Volunteer Tavern photographed about 1955 - a tranquil scene before Hendford was straightened out.


From the Cave Collection, Courtesy of South Somerset District Council

A colourised photograph of the Volunteer Inn, located on the junction of Brunswick Street (with the car) with Hendford. Although it appears that the Volunteer Inn was double-fronted and to its right were two houses, in fact the whole building was the Volunteer, with the first door giving access to the bar, the middle door to the Bottle & Jug and the right-hand door to the smoke room, etc. It is boarded up for demolition and the stripes above the windows and door are where the signage "Sherborne Brewery Ales & Stout" lettering (seen in the previous photograph) has been removed leaving staining behind.


Looking down Hendford towards the junction with Horsey Lane in 1956.


The Volunteer Inn is seen at right angles with Hendford. This photograph was taken at the beginning of demolition in 1965 and the terrace of housing seen at left, Hendford Terrace, was to follow shortly thereafter.


From the Cave Collection, Courtesy of South Somerset District Council

A close-up of the Volunteer Inn during its demolition in 1965. The end at far left has already been demolished (compare the number of chimney stacks with the top photograph above). Note that the Volunteer was supplied by the Sherborne Brewery. 




1841 – Silas Griffin – Grocer (1841 census) listed in Hendford
1850 – Silas Griffin – Beer Retailer (Hunt & Co's 1850 Directory) listed in Hendford
1851 – Silas Griffin – Grocer and Inn Keeper (1851 census) listed in Hendford Street
1852 – Silas Griffin – Retailer of Beer (Slater's 1852/3 Directory)
1861 – Silas Griffin – Grocer (1861 census) listed in Hendford next to Hendford Terrace
1861 – Silas Griffin – Beer Retailer and Shopkeeper (Kelly's 1861 Directory)
1866 – Luke Burt – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1866 Directory)
1871 – Luke Burt – Innkeeper & Grocer (1871 census) listed as Volunteer Inn
1872 – Luke Burt – Beer Retailer and Shopkeeper (Kelly's 1872 Directory)
1875 – Mrs Temperance Burt – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – John Martin – Inn Keeper (1881 census) listed as the Volunteer Tavern
1882 – John Martin (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) Volunteer Tavern, 20 Hendford
1889 – William Ramsdale – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1889 Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1890 – William Ramsdale – left for Rimpton after 12 years at Volunteer (Western Gazette)
1891 – Charles Mead – Publican & Grocer (1891 census) listed as Volunteer Tavern
1895 – Edward Few – Beer Retailer & Shopkeeper (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1897 – William Florance – Beer Retailer & Shopkeeper (Kelly’s 1897 Directory) listed as
            Volunteer Tavern
1898 – William Florence (Whitby's 1898 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1900 – Alfred Saunders (Whitby's 1900 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1901 – Alfred Saunders – Publican & Grocer (1901 census) listed as Volunteer Inn
1903 – Albert Edward Axe (Whitby's 1903 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1907 – V Moore (Whitby's 1907 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1911 – George Henry Gregory – Groom Domestic (1911 census) listed as Volunteer Tavern
1911 – George Gregory (Whitby's 1903 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1914 – George Gregory – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1914 Directory) pub not named
1923 – George Gregory – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) pub not named
1936 – G Gregory (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1938 – G Gregory (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1939 – George Gregory (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Volunteer Tavern
1947 – G Gregory (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1949-60 – Cecil William George White (thanks to Stephen Sharpe for the info)
1949 – CW White (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1951 – CW White (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1954 – CW White (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1957 – CW White (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1960 – V Cook (1960 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Volunteer Inn