Occasionally, I write about public houses in the town, sometimes it is about pubs that have been converted or just closed up.
I have remarked that for many people a public house or inn is often used as a method of providing directions to the pedestrian or motorist, which can prove difficult when these premises change their names, or the premises change their use. How many can you remember?
Looking at our High Street for changes, one major change was that of the York Inn, which was situated on the site which, in 1984, became The Body Shop and is now Cubitt and West.
Originally built in 1830 as a ‘Post House,’ in 1839, it was described as a wine cellar and owned by James Smith, the owner of York House, which was situated next door. Then it became a public house and was decorated in glazed green tiles in the style of Brickwoods Brewery, many of which have survived the changes to its present use.
Other premises have existed in some of our smaller side streets. Let us look at the Coach and Horses in Bedford Street. The land was formerly owned by Sir Richard Hotham but was purchased in 1820 by James Tomsett from South Bersted who constructed the house.
It continued as a public house until 1979 when it closed to make way for many changes that were planned in the vicinity.
However, it wasn’t demolished until 1996 and today this site is occupied by two small warehouses which face the back of New Look, while overlooking the car park of Morrison’s.
Another site that was hidden away is that of The Crown, situated in Manor Place behind the Royal Hotel. Some reports claim that this was one of the oldest in the town, while others shown in this article show the facts to be different.
It was built about 1830 and again owned by the Bersted family of Tomsett and it is believed that it was the haunt of sailors and smugglers. Before the First World War, it was used by the Coach and Horses Club, which consisted of a group of gentlemen who met socially. While it closed for a couple of years at the end of the 1970s, it reopened and continued for a number of years. It finally closed and was renovated and transformed into flats.
If we travelled from Chichester Road along Victoria Drive to Aldwick, we could at one time have stopped at the Victoria Hotel, which was situated on the junction with Aldwick Road.
The earliest records of this hotel date from 1870. The local architect, Arthur Smith, constructed the hotel when many other developments were taking place in the area. It was finally closed in 1990 and demolished to make way for the current block of flats.
What about The Ship Inn in Aldwick, which is now closed and currently the subject of great discussion with local residents who would like it to return to a public house? Plans are around for its re-opening, again as a small supermarket.
Another almost hidden public house was the Prince of Wales, which was first recorded as a beer house from 1851.
That used to be visible by the side of the flyover with quite a detailed history, but this closed in 2017 and the property is now in private ownership minus all external reminders of its bygone use.
What about the Rising Sun on the Chichester Road, once named Stamps, where from the 1880s it attracted visitors to view the large collection of stamps that adorned both walls and furniture as part of a bet?
Next it became the Rising Sun. This premises has now been converted into a Tesco store. Another change along the Chichester Road, concerns the White Horse, which was sold in 2010 by its brewery.
It opened as a free house for a short time before opening in 2013 as the children’s nursery it is today. These two premises in particular have retained their external features.
The Richmond Arms in London Road, near to the old crossing of the railway lines, was threatened with closure in 2019 and the building of a block of flats. This didn’t occur, and the premises are open.
Another site that we should look at was once called the Queen Victoria and was situated in South Bersted. On one of the end walls there used to be a tablet dated 1792 with the initials B.N.S.
By 1842 it was known as a beer and lodging house and owned by one of the brewers from Chichester, and for a time it was known as The White Horse.
The name was changed around 1860s but eventually, because of legislation and other local changes, it ceased to be a public house and became a private residence in 1978.
Looking further afield we should consider The Southdowns in Felpham. At one time on this corner site of the main road the weary traveller could have visited the Brewers Arms, which was said to have dated from the 18th century.
However, this building was closed and demolished to make way for a new construction next door, that of the Southdowns, in 1923. It was considered that a more modern public house was needed at that end of the village.
Looking around the town we find that there would appear to have been a period when a number of licensed premises opened. In particular, there seemed to be quite a surge of new premises in the 1830s.
Then, for whatever reasons, the use of many declined before the First World War, when their licences were not renewed.
This is just a snapshot of some of our past drinking houses. It is interesting to surmise how many of today’s public houses will have a tale or history to be recounted by future local historians?