The pub and the puddle – Bradford Abbas’s Rose and Crown


Roger Guttridge tells the story of Bradford Abbas’s Rose and Crown pub and its ‘famous five’ customers from the 1930s

The Rose and Crown and flooded Church Road at Bradford Abbas, c1900. Old pictures from Lost Dorset: The Villages and Countryside, by David Burnett, based on Barry Cuff’s collection of Dorset postcards.

It looks like an overgrown puddle to me but this flooding event in Church Road, Bradford Abbas, was sufficient to bring out a photographer and 16 locals eager to be in his picture.
The building on the left is the Rose and Crown, which remains a flourishing pub to this day.
By the time the puddle picture was taken in about 1900, the Rose and Crown had already seen off at least three other hostelries which had formerly served the village and its then 400 residents.
The building was originally an old farmhouse with its own brewhouse and presumably the pub grew out of that.
Beyond the pub in the modern picture below is Bradford Abbas’s unusual war memorial, built in 1917 by Mr Bartlett of Yeovil and based on a design by architect C E Benson. Building costs amounted to £120 19s 6d and the structure included a steep, tiled gable roof, which at first glance has a passing resemblance to a bus shelter.
Unusually, the panels list not only 12 village men who lost their lives in the two world wars but also the 79 villagers who served and came home.

The Rose and Crown today with the war memorial in the background. Image: Roger Guttridge

The famous five
The five men in the third picture (below) were not among them. They would already have been in their 60s or 70s when the First World War broke out. Their moment of glory came in 1936, when British Movietone News filmed them sinking their pints in the Rose and Crown (video below, top), and playing skittles (video below, bottom).

Bradford Abbas’s ‘Lads of the Village’ in 1936

When the film was shown at a Yeovil cinema, Bradford Abbas’s famous five were treated like celebrities and asked to pose for photographs. Dorchester brewers Eldridge Pope issued the above commemorative postcard, describing the quintet as the ‘Lads of the Village’ and giving their combined age as 444.
They were (left to right) George Chainey, aged 89, Sidney Parsons, 83, Thomas Coombs, 91, Samuel Ring, 92, and James Higgins, 89.
Samuel, who lived to the age of 96, used to carry the banner of the Sick Benefit Club on club days. He didn’t derive much benefit from it himself, by all accounts, having never missed a day’s work in 76 years!
I have my own minor memory of the Rose and Crown. In the early 1970s, when I was a young reporter on the Western Gazette, it was the venue for Yeovil branch meetings of the National Union of Journalists. I have a vague memory of meeting there one day when we went on strike!


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