the history of yeovil's pubs





wine vaults

Grope Lane / 8-9 Wine Street


The Wine Vaults, in Wine Street, appears to have been the outlet of Wine Merchants although from the 1820's and 1860's it was listed as the Wine Vaults Tavern indicating something more than just a shop.

The firm of Thomas Bullock Watts & Co. dealt in wines and spirits at the Wine Vaults. In 1822 this company, for whatever reason, blew up and there were a string of bankruptcies. It was noted in the London Gazette that the partnership selling wines and spirits, prior to July 1813, traded under the name Cayme Watts & Co. Those signing off on a new name were James Cayme the Younger, John Cayme, Yeovil solicitor Thomas Bullock Watts, and Edward Watts, Yeovil's Town Surveyor. At this juncture Edward Watts wanted out (he had just married and had even left the military volunteers). In 1815, there was an interesting bankruptcy reported for a certain carpenter named Nossiter whose creditors included maltsters from as far away as Bristol and the Yeovil brandy merchants, Bullock, Watts & Cayme the Younger. Thomas Bullock Watts & Co were listed as Wine & Spirits dealers in Pigot's Directory of 1824.

Interestingly James Cayme the Elder, the father of James the Younger, was listed as the owner of the Full Moon Inn in the Land Tax Returns of 1828 and in 1859 the establishment was referred to as the Wine Vaults Tavern in the 1 March edition of the Sherborne Mercury indicating its usage at this early date.

By 1901 the Wine Vaults was still being operated as a Wine Merchant’s by John Mann but under the abbreviated name of the Wine Vaults. However by this time 'Vaults' was a common euphemism for public house. Certainly in 1906 John Mann and his family were living opposite the Wine Vaults in Clarendon House.

The present building dates from 1877 and has a date stone on the gable facing Union Street although that part marked 'E' on the map was still a separate property at this time albeit owned by the owners of the Wine Vaults. It is a substantial two storey Grade II Listed property. The ground floor has a series of bars and dining rooms with a commercial kitchen and above were two staff flats. There is a skittle alley and small enclosed yard to the rear.

For well over a century, between the Royal Oak and the Wine Vaults was the Full Moon and the Running Horse appeared briefly. In the 1820's and 1830's there was also a pub called the Sun, another called the Case is Altered the other side of the Royal Oak as well as at least two further beerhouses in Wine Street. However it is very difficulty to tell at what stage the building ceased to be a wine merchant's premises and became a licensed public house - my best guess is shortly before the First World War but certainly by 1936.

The following description is from the Somerset Historic Environment Record -

"Inn. Dated 1877. Brick colourwashed with Ham stone dressings, with Welsh slated roof hipped on North West corner; brick chimney stacks. 2-storey principal facade to Union Street of 5-bays, bays 3 and 4 projecting and gabled, with plain pediment containing circular stone panel, this has angled bay window with long sashes to ground floor, with two semi-circular headed sashes above set in architraves with keystones; small entrance door to bay 2 with semi-circular fanlight in arched surround with shallow flat hood; to bay 5 ground floor plain sash in architrave: to bays 1, 2 and 5 first floor segmental headed sashes with architraves and keystones, Plain stone quoins. (The modern shop, which intrudes into bays 1 and 2 occupying former forecourt not of interest). The return to Wine Street of 5 bays, bays 4 and 5 projecting slightly. Large ground floor window in 3-lights to bay 1, doorway to bay 2, plain window to architrave in bay 3, then elliptical archway for former stables access, doorway and window occupying bays 4 and 5; at first floor level 5-segmental headed sash windows with architraves and keystones. Internally little altered at ground floor level. Visually a very important corner building."

The following is from an article in the Yeovil Express & Star of 7 September 1995 -


New look pub prepares for grand re-opening

The new look Wine Vault pub in Union Street (sic), Yeovil, re-opens on Tuesday, September 12, after undergoing a £90,000 refurbishment programme. Improvements to the pub include new furnishings, upgraded bars, a new music system for karaoke enthusiasts and sports fanatics will be able to enjoy a new TV screen with Sky Sports.

The Bass Taverns pub has also been given a breath of fresh air since Bob Rutherford was appointed as its new licensee two months ago. Bob is no stranger to the pub trade, having been a licensee for 16 years. He was previously at the Waterloo House in Bridgwater for 13 years. "I've only been at the Wine Vault a short while and I'm already enjoying my new challenge," said Bob. "Now the refurbishment programme has been completed I have lots of plans that I would like to implement within the coming months. I have been in the business a long time and I've seen many changes. Everything is computerised and there's a lot more office work but it has become easier to keep abreast of what is happening with stock. But I'm glad to say that that handling people will always be the same - good service is very important in this industry."


Sadly it didn't last. The following is from the Western Gazette of 15 July 2010 -


Pub resurrected as the Vaults

A Yeovil pub which unexpectedly closed down is set to re-open this weekend. Ben Woods, owner of Woods Wine Bar, has taken on the lease for the building which formerly housed Simply 21 in Wine Street. The premises, which for years was called Wine Vaults, will operate under the name of The Vaults, with brewery Yeovil Ales taking care of the beers.

Mr Wood said "We want to turn it back into the pub that it was when it was really busy a few years back. We've got a jukebox and we might have a little bit of live folk music, but we're going to leave most of the music to Woods really."

Wine Vaults shut in 2007, but the venue was re-opened as Simply 21 this February by Byron Hayter, whose family also ran the Aspire 2 Eat restaurant in Digby Road in Sherborne which also recently closed.


Sadly, that didn't last long either. The Wine Vaults will, even more sadly, be a pub no more as in March 2013 it opened as a retail outlet with a small café / mezze bar run by TV chef Lesley Walters. This too seems to be going the way of other pubs/restaurants (such as the frightfully overpriced La Olivia restaurant that opened in lieu of the Yew Tree Inn) - when will they learn that small servings at inflated London prices just ain't gonna work in Yeovil.

News Update - it didn't work! So, no surprises there then.


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

It is not known for sure if the Wine Vaults operated before the 1820's.



Of the licensees, James Male was born in 1782 probably in Yeovil. He died in 1844 and James Foan bought the premises and stock-in-trade and took over the license in 1846.

James Foan first appears in 1839 when had been licensee of the Seven Stars Inn, a beerhouse in Bond Street and by 1841 was noted as licensee of the Full Moon, two doors away, in the 1841 census where he was listed as an inn keeper, with his wife, Rhoda, and three young children. In June 1846 James purchased the premises and stock-in-trade of the late James Male, the Wine Vaults Tavern and advertised the fact in the 27 June 1846 edition of the Western Flying Post.

In the 1851 census James Foan is described as a wine & spirit merchant and is living with Rhoda, five of their children and three servants at the Wine Vaults which by 1861 had reduced to four children at home and two servants living in. James died in the spring of 1864 and the license of the Wine Vaults was taken over by his son Frederick, known as Fred, certainly by 1871.

Fred and Elizabeth Foan moved into the Wine Vaults after the death of James Foan and were listed there in the 1871 census with their children; James W (b1862), Catherine E (b1865), Alice L (b1867) and Beatrice M (b1870). Also resident were a barmaid and a general servant. Fred gave his occupation as a Wine & Spirit Merchant. By 1891 Fred, by now aged 58 and still a Wine Merchant, was living in a large house in Sherborne Road with Lavinia and daughter Alice. The Wine Vaults, although at this time still owned by Frederick, was being run by his son, James W Foan. Sadly, in June 1893 James W died at the age of just 31. Following the death of his son, Fred retired and sold the business to Frederick Warren Smith in July 1893.




Notice of the sale of the Wine Vaults following the death of James Male, from the 19 October 1844 edition of the Western Flying Press.


James Foan purchased the premises and stock-in-trade of the late James Male, the Wine Vaults Tavern, and advertised the fact in the 27 June 1846 edition of the Western Flying Post.


The notice placed by Fred Foan in the 14 July 1893 edition of the Western Gazette announcing the sale of the Wine Vaults and the wine merchant's business to Warren Smith.


A notice placed in the Western Gazette's edition of 29 November 1895.


The Wine Vaults around 1901 when the Wine merchant, John Mann, was proprietor. At extreme right, that part of the Wine Vaults beyond the arched access to the rear yard was originally the building occupied by the Running Horse before the Wine Vaults was rebuilt in 1877.


A Mann & Co Ltd advertisement of 1906.


From my collection

A receipt of Mann & Co dating to June 1912 - even though John Mann and his family had left Yeovil for North Wales the previous year.


An aerial photograph taken in 1955 shows the Wine Vaults just below the centre of the picture. Wine Street runs to the Borough at the top of the photo. Note that the Boots building that stood on the corner of the Borough and Middle Street, demolished by a German bomb on Good Friday, April 1941, is now a building site for the new Boots building. The new shop opened in 1956. In the time between being destroyed and rebuilt the site was turned into a garden and planted with tulips donated by Dutch children who had been evacuated to Yeovil during the war.


An aerial photograph of 1988 shows the Wine Vaults as the large white building at the centre of the photograph at the junction of Peter Street (running to the lower left corner), Wine Street (running around to the Borough, just visible at top right) and Union Street (running from South Street at top left to Middle Street which runs from top right to centre bottom). Also visible is the Royal Oak 2 in its 1980's guise as the Hole in the Wall - the small white building towards the top of the photo, right of centre, on the bend of Wine Street.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

The Wine Vaults photographed in 1989.


Photograph by Trevor Hussey, courtesy of Mrs Anne Hussey

The Wine Vaults, photographed in 1990, with the Hole in the Wall in the background.


From my collection

A 2002 advertisement from The Visitor.


The Wine Vaults around 2005 - closed and up for sale. Notice the proximity of the white building to its right - now the Green Room, formerly the Hole in the Wall, formerly the Royal Oak and before that the Queen's Arms. Between the two, for over 130 years, was the Full Moon.


Just after it closed as the Wine Vaults it briefly re-opened as the Vaults. The above photograph of the Vaults was taken in 2012 and shows it closed and up for sale yet again!  




1824 – Watts, Thomas Bullock & Co (Pigot's 1824 Directory) listed as Wine & Spirits Dealers
1827 – James Male – Innkeeper (1827 Jury List) listed in Wine Street
1827 – James Male (1827 Jurors List)
1829 – James Male (prop.), JM & James Fox (Land Tax Return  -  SRO Q/RE1)
1830 – James Male (spirit) - (Pigot's 1830 Directory - Wine & Spirits Merchants and Dealers)
1840 – James Male (1840 Somerset Gazette Directory - Wine & Spirits Merchants) Wine Street
1842 – James Male (1842 Somerset Gazette Directory - Wine & Spirits Merchants) Wine Street
1850 – James Foan (Hunt & Co 1850 Directory - Wine & Spirit Merchants) Wine Street
1851 – James Foan – Wine & Spirit Merchant (1851 census)
1852 – James Foan (Slater's 1852 Directory - Wine & Spirit Merchants) Wine Street
1856 – Noted as the Wine Vaults Tavern (Daniel Vickery - 'Sketch of Yeovil')
1859 – James Foan (Harrison, Harrod & Co 1859 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults Tavern
1861 – James Foan – Wine & Spirit Merchant (1861 census)
1861 – James Foan & Son (Kelly's 1861 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults Tavern, Wine Street
1871 – Frederick Foan – Wine & Spirit Merchant (1871 census)
1875 – Frederick Foan – Wine & Spirit Merchant (1875 Post Office Directory) Wine Street
1881 – Frederick Foan – Wine Merchant (1881 census) listed as the Wine Street Spirit Vault
1882 – Fred. Foan – Wine & Spirit Merchant (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser)
1891 – James W Foan – Wine & Spirit Merchant (1891 census)
1898 – Licensee not named (1898 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1895 – F&M Warren Smith - Proprietors (Notice in Western Gazette above)
1898 – Warren Smith - License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, October)
1898 – JW Mann (late of Frome) - License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, October)
1901 – John Mann - Wine Merchant (1901 census) listed as the Wine Vaults
1907 – JW Mann (1907 Yeovil Directory) Wine Vaults, 8 & 9 Wine Street
1917 – William Malcolm (see notice of enlisting below)
1917 – A Walter Crump (see notice of enlisting below)

From the 11 April 1917 edition of the Taunton Courier.

1919 – Mann & Co Ltd (Kelly's 1919 Directory - Wine & Spirits Merchants)
1935 – Mitchell, Toms & Co Ltd (WG Vine, Manager)  (Kelly's 1935 Directory)
1936 – WG Vine (what an appropriate surname) - Manager (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed a
            Wine Vaults
1947 – Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd – W Vine, Manager (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as
            Wine Vaults
1949 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1951 – Licensee not named (1951 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1954 – Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1957 – Licensee not named (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1960 – Licensee not named (1960 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1968 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1968 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1969 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1969 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1970 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1970 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1971 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1971 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1972 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1972 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1973 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1973 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1974 – Licensee not named (1974 Yeovil Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1987 – Licensee not named (Denton’s 1987 Directory) listed as Wine Vaults
1995 – Bob Rutherford (Express & Star article above)
2010 – Byron Hayter (Western Gazette article above)
2010 – Ben Woods (Western Gazette article above)