Green shoots at the Green Man


Well done to successive owners of the Green Man for sticking with the King’s Stag pub’s traditional name, says Roger Guttridge

The Green Man c1908 with a line-up of early motor cars.
Picture from Roger Guttridge’s Blackmore Vale Camera.

It’s refreshing to find an historic pub that hasn’t had its name meddled with in recent decades, especially when that name is traditional and meaningful.
And the Green Man at King’s Stag is just that. According to its website, the hostelry has been in the village since the 17th century and was originally known as the Inn at King Stag. But it has been the Green Man for as long as anyone alive can remember, and in fact much longer.
I happen to have a copy of Kelly’s Directory of Dorset for 1931 and, after referring me to the entry for Lydlinch – King’s Stag being in that parish – it told me that the Green Man’s landlord 91 years ago was one Albert Percy Padfield.
The Green Man name is synonymous with forestry and rural England and a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of new growth that begins every spring.
That is especially appropriate right now, given the green shoots that are almost visibly sprouting at the pub.
After what the website itself describes as a ‘rocky few years’, the Green Man is back on its feet with an impressive new beer garden and the additional attraction of a coffee shop.
My two pictures from the early 20th century show how little the building itself has changed in more than 100 years.

Children and a mobile knife-grinder gather for the camera outside the Green Man in the early 1900s.
Picture from Barry Cuff collection, published in Lost Dorset: The Villages and Countryside, by David Burnett

The Dorset FX
The one with the three cars appeared in my book Blackmore Vale Camera in 1991, when I was able to identify the owners of those with the Dorset FX number plate.
Far left (FX 307), seated beside his driver in the 60hp Fiat, is Sir Randolf Baker (1879-1953), owner of the Ranston Estate at Shroton and MP for North Dorset.
Sir Randolf, who was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Order while serving in the Dorset Yeomanry during the First World War, was a motoring pioneer whose first car, a 10hp Panhard, was only the second in the county.
The identity of the car (FX 387) next to the horse and wagon (far right) is in dispute.
In 1991, I had reason to think it belonged to Francis Learworth, of Hanford. But in Lost Dorset: The Villages and Countryside, based on Barry Cuff’s collection of old Dorset postcards, author David Burnett identifies the car as a 16hp Vauxhall owned by Thomas Spiller, of Luccombe Farm at Milton Abbas.
I can’t currently resolve this except to suggest that perhaps it was owned by both gentlemen at different times!
The LC-number plate on the centre car suggests a London registration.

The Green Man at King’s Stag today
Image: Roger Guttridge

Henry III’s stag
The other early 1900s picture shows a travelling knife-grinder and another local tradesman as well as the usual gaggle of children who were attracted by the novelty of the camera just as kids today (and some attention-seeking adults!) love to linger in the background when there’s a TV camera about.
There are two stories as to how King’s Stag itself acquired its name.
It was called ‘Kingestake’ in a document dated 1337 while ‘Kingstake Bridg’ is mentioned in the 16th century.
These probably refer to a king’s stake which once marked the spot at the bridge over the River Lydden where the parishes of Lydlinch, Pulham and Hazelbury Bryan meet.
The alternative placename story is much more fun but probably untrue.
Legend has it that King Henry III was hunting in the Blackmore Vale when he saw a white hart, which he decided to spare.
When the king’s bailiff later slew the magnificent beast near the bridge over the Lydden, the king was so angry that he threw the offender in jail and fined the whole Vale.
Hence King’s Stag.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

More like this

Stourton Caundle | Then and Now

Step back in time with our ‘Then and Now’...

A century ago in Thornford

This month Barry Cuff has chosen a couple of...

Stourpaine | Then and Now

Step back in time with our ‘Then and Now’...

A rare look at Winterborne Zelston

This month Barry Cuff has chosen a couple of...