A tale of three Foxes | Then and Now

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Fox’s Close now stands on the site of the Fox Inn, once run by a Mr Fox. Roger Guttridge joins the dots in this month’s Then & Now

It’s hard to believe that this is the same location 120 years apart, although the name of this little L-shaped street of bungalows provides a clue.
Fox’s Close at Holwell takes its name from the Fox Inn that once stood on the site, and indeed from a Walter Fox, who was the landlord in the early 20th century.
As you drive through Holwell today, it’s also hard to believe that this modest Blackmore Vale village once had two pubs to serve its 417 inhabitants.
That was one pub too many for some villagers, though, and after the death of a previous landlady in 1883, they campaigned for the Fox’s closure.
The stated reason was that a village of Holwell’s size didn’t need two hostelries – which is a fair point, although I’m guessing that the temperance movement may also have had something to do with it.

Men only
The campaign against the evils of drink was in full swing in the late 19th century. In those pre-Suffragette days, women did not get a say in such matters, of course; even though they probably suffered more than anyone due to their husbands’ drinking. So it fell to Holwell’s men to sign a petition calling for the Fox Inn’s closure – 67 of them signed, 19 of whom were only able to do so with a cross.
The campaign obviously failed, as Walter Fox was still pulling pints at the Fox 20 years later, and it’s known that the pub was still in business in 1915!
According to a recent posting by Richard Rolls on the Lost Pubs Project website, the thatched pub was destroyed in a fire in 1961 along with the house next door, which was his great-grandmother’s home. Presumably that’s when the Fox’s Close bungalows were built.
Richard also posted a picture of Holwell Working Men’s Club members outside the Fox, which suggests it was once their regular meeting place.

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