Town Centre Businesses

Axminster’s Hotels, Inns and Pubs

new_email_requestIn the 18th and 19th centuries Axminster had a relatively large number of inns and other hostelries relative to its population for two main reasons: the large number of coaching and waggon (freight) services which ran through the town, and the presence of the market, which brought farmers and dealers into the town on a regular basis.

That said, the numbers were not greatly different from today, and in fact there were almost exactly the same number in 1939 as there had been 101 years earlier, with most of them still bearing the same name and in the same location. This brief account looks at six ‘snapshots in time’ over that period of 101 years, as well as identifying a number of older inns which had already disappeared by 1838.

Further research is required, particularly using the Petre map of 1776/78, the census returns and the British Newspaper Archive website.

1838 and 1850

The inns (and their landlords) and the independent beer retailers listed in Directories as existing in Axminster in both 1838 and 1850 were are follows:

  • The George Hotel, between Market Place and Trinity Square (James Pound, both times)
  • The Castle, Market Place (Robert Hook, both times)
  • The Green Dragon, at the foot of Castle Hill (Thomas Stevens, then George Harvey)
  • The Old Bell, Trinity Square (Thomas Towndrow, both times)
  • The New Inn, Trinity Square (J Martin, then John Ryall)
  • The Hotel on the corner of West Street and Church Street (James Aplin, then William Newbery)
  • The Rose and Crown, Lyme Street (Samuel Goddard, then George Newbery)
  • The Red Lion, Lyme Street (George Hook, then John Bunston)

Also listed in 1838 was H Loveridge, a beer retailer on South Street. His premises may well be the ones named as the Black Dog (landlord Benjamin Westlake) in 1850.

The 1838 directory also names John Newbery as a brewer with premises on Church Street, and George Slyfield as a maltster on Castle Hill.

By 1850 two further inns had been opened:

  • The Old White Hart, Lyme Street (Emanuel Dommett)
  • The Lamb, Lyme Road (Samuel Goddard)

1857 and 1889

By 1857 and 1889 the status of the inns which had been named in 1850 was as follows:

  • The George Hotel, between Market Place and Trinity Square (John Ryall, then Henry Brice)
  • The Castle, Market Place (John Morgan Southard, then probably Alfred Frost, though the entry for him actually says Castle Street)
  • The Green Dragon, at the foot of Castle Hill (George Harvey, then George Heal)
  • The Old Bell, Trinity Square (Thomas Towndrow, then John Sutton)
  • The New Commercial, Trinity Square (William Wakefield, then Frederick William Moass)
  • Dening’s Hotel, then the Western Hotel, on the corner of West Street and Church Street (John Dening, then James Morgan)
  • The Rose and Crown, Lyme Street (James Ackfield, but gone by 1889)
  • The Red Lion, Lyme Street (not listed in 1857, then William Lumbard)
  • The Old White Hart, Lyme Street (E Plummer, then James Plummer)
  • The Lamb, Lyme Road (Samuel Goddard, but not listed in 1889)

Newly opened inns were as follows:

  • The Black Lion, Castle Hill (James Phillips, then Henry Studley)
  • The Phoenix Inn, Castle Street (Isaac Dare, but not listed in 1889)
  • The Trout Inn, Millbrook (Thomas Hill, then David Holt)
  • The Axminster Inn, Silver Street (Charles Loring, then Joseph Chick)

In 1887 Henry Potter was also listed at Smallridge, at an unnamed inn.

1914 and 1939

The position as reported in 1914 and 1939 was as follows:

  • The George Hotel, between Market Place and Trinity Square (not listed in 1914, then G Lambert)
  • The Castle, Market Place (possibly Frederick Alexander Enticott, though he was actually listed in Castle Street, then not listed at all in 1939)
  • The Green Dragon, at the foot of Castle Hill (Tryphena Heal, then Bert Guest)
  • The Old Bell, Trinity Square (William Henry Horn, then G S Woods)
  • The New Commercial, Trinity Square (Frederick William Moass, but not listed in 1939)
  • The Western Hotel, on the corner of West Street and Church Street (James Morgan, then Percy Reginald Stapleforth)
  • The Red Lion, Lyme Street (Levi Welch, then George Harry Willmington)
  • The Old White Hart, Lyme Street (Edwin Swain, then Philip E Bartlett)
  • The Lamb, Lyme Road (John Gillingham, then Clement Gillingham)
  • The Black Lion, Castle Hill (Charles Neale, but not listed in 1939)
  • The Phoenix Inn, Castle Street (not listed in 1914, then William J Strawbridge)
  • The Trout Inn, Millbrook (Richard Fowler, both times)
  • The Axminster Inn, Silver Street (James George Stuart, then William H Stuart)
  • The New Inn, Smallridge (Henry Miller, then Mrs Nancy C Reader)

Inns which had closed before 1838

The Dolphin was a famous inn, facing onto Market Place. It was chosen by William of Orange when he passed through Axminster in 1688 as his base for three nights. It was also the loading point for London- (and Exeter-) bound freight waggons for many years. It is not listed at all in the Directories consulted, but the building itself did not burn down until 1881, suggesting that it had by then become a private house or some other business. The freight waggons had switched their business to the Old Bell as early as 1829.

The George Hotel, Axminster’s best-known inn, and for many years the stopping-off place for the fast stagecoaches from Exeter to London, was first mentioned in Manorial documents in 1574. It was previously located on a site a short distance to the east (on or just off South Street). That inn closed when the business moved to its present location when the Cross Keys burned down on that site in 1759.

The Golden Lion was another large coaching inn, located close to the Church and occupying part of the space that is now Trinity Square. Newspaper reports from 1745 show that it was the venue for cock-fighting and gambling involving the ‘gentlemen of Devon, Dorset and Somerset’. In 1760 it was burned down, and evidently was not re-built.

‘Around Axminster in Old Photographs’ (by Les Berry and Gerald Gosling, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1993) has a photograph of the Black Lion in the 1890s, which it says had been called the Boot Inn in the 1820s. The building was presumably used for some other purpose in the 1830s and 1840s.

The Green Dragon moved to the foot of Castle Street from its original premises close to where the Western Hotel was subsequently developed.

The King’s Arms gets occasional mentions during the 19th century.

The Old Bear Inn used to have its entrance from Silver Street, between what are now the Law Chambers and Thomas Whitty House.

The Three Cups was a name used by an inn in Axminster in 1833, but nothing further has been found about it.

Inns which opened after 1939

The Millwey opened after 1945 on the Chard Road, close to the northern edge of the town, but has since closed.

Axminster’s Bakers and Butchers

The following information is drawn almost entirely from published trade directories. Whereas a listing on a specified date means that the business concerned was almost certainly active as recorded, the absence of a listing could be an error or omission, and the careful guidance that ‘absence of evidence should not be regarded as evidence of absence’ applies.

The evidence regarding butchers is patchy. It is not until butchers had full-time retail outlets that the records become more consistent. Before that some butchers were based on farms, and would only have sold meat from market stalls on market days.

The places and occupations of all named individuals can be assumed from the headings, and the use of the descriptor ‘baker’ or ‘butcher’ is not always included.

Market Place or Square


In 1838 John Bowdige had a bakery on Market Place, and as early as 1792 John Bowdige was recorded as a baker in Axminster, albeit in an unidentified location. It seems highly likely that at least three generations of bakers called John Bowdige worked from Market Place, because that combination of name and place recurs until 1870. Sometimes they were also described as grocers, but mainly they were just bakers.

In 1873 John Ryall was a baker, followed from 1878 until 1883 by Robert Butt Ryall. Charles Norman was the Market Place baker from 1889 to 1893, followed by William Bastable (1902) and then by Amos Bennett (1906 to 1910). No further bakers were recorded up to and including 1939.


The directories do not record who had butchers’ stalls in the market ‘shambles’.

Sidney Dare had a butcher’s shop on Market Place from 1923 until 1926.

Castle Hill


In 1838 George Willmott was a baker and confectioner (as well as a grocer and cheesemonger) on Castle Hill. He was followed by William Willmott (1844 to 1856) in conjunction with Misses Mary and Elizabeth Willmott. They later moved to Chard Street.

After a long gap came Arthur Knight (1883), Thomas B Heal (1889, combining baking with being a timber merchant), James Aplin Phillips (1890), Miss Mary Jane Ryall (also 1890), Robert Butt Ryall (1893) and William Swain (1893 to 1914).

The Ryalls had previously been in Market Place (see above).


Robert and William Loud were butchers on Castle Hill in 1838. The next entries are for John Patterson (1879/79) and Charles Augustus Loud (a pork butcher, from 1883 to 1889).

Victoria Place


The sequence of butchers on Victoria Place was as follows: Henry Loud (1866), John Aplin Loud (1870 to 1902), John Patterson (1883 to 1914, having previously been on Castle Hill), Frederick Daniel Chick (1906 to 1939) and George Denslow (1919 to 1939).

It appears that there were two butcher’s shops; one occupied by Loud then Chick, and the other by Patterson then Denslow.

Trinity Square


Henry Badcock was a baker and confectioner on Trinity Square from 1850 to 1879. In later years his shop evidently sold a wider range of goods.

Mrs Elizabeth Harris was a baker and confectioner from 1883 to 1890, followed by her son William Joseph Harris (1893 to 1910). After 1914 their shop was described as a grocer’s shop rather than a bakery (and is traced in the document dealing with other food shops).

Sidney Owen Gill (who also had premises on Chard Street) was a confectioner on Trinity Square from 1914 to 1939 (and beyond), and from 1935 ran the New Commercial Café, also on Trinity Square.


Frank Edward Ellett was listed as a butcher in Trinity Square in 1939.

West Street


Henry Badcock was a baker and confectioner in 1838 (he later moved to Trinity Square: see above).

Miss Annie Pile was a confectioner on West Street in 1923, followed by the Misses Audrey and Phyllis Parsons in 1926. From 1935 to 1939 the listing has the Misses Florence and Phyllis Parsons, again as confectioners.

Miss E M Pile was a confectioner from 1935 to 1939.


Alec Samuel Powell was a butcher in 1935.

Church Street and Silver Street


George R Summers was a baker on Silver Street in 1866.


George Palmer was a game dealer (but not so far as can be seen also a butcher) on Church Street in 1870.

William H Stuart (of the Axminster Inn) was a butcher on Silver Street from 1926 to 1939. It is believed that he also ran the small slaughterhouse behind Purzebrooke House, on Musbury Road. The shop was subsequently run by Lionel Stuart into the 1950s at least.

South Street


Thomas Denzilow Fry was a baker from 1838 to 1844.

William Fry was a baker in 1838, followed by Thomas Waldron in 1844.

William Phillips was a baker from 1850 to 1866, followed by James Aplin Phillips (1870 to 1879, also acting as a mail cart contractor), followed by Thomas William Hoyle (1883 to 1893) and then by Edward Manger Mayo & Son (1902 to 1939, and for some considerable period thereafter).


John Denning was listed from 1856 to 1857, followed by Henry Broom (in 1866).

Lyme Street


George Bradford was a baker and confectioner in 1838. After a considerable gap George Henry Newbery was listed from 1873 to 1893, followed by Albert Newbery & Son (1902 to 1939).

Albert John V Gower was a baker in 1889, followed by John Davey Cummings, a confectioner, from 1906 to 1910.

Miss Ellen Restorick was  a confectioner (and sometimes also a grocer), from 1919 to 1939.

Mrs Beatrice Hooper was a confectioner from 1923 to 1926.


George Hook (of the Red Lion) was a butcher in 1838. Later butchers included Henry Hanning (1857), John Denning (1866 to 1873) and Samuel Denning (1878).

John Griffin Broom was also a butcher in 1873, followed by Henry Loud (1878).

Samuel Hencher was a cattle dealer, pork butcher and cheese factor on Lyme Street from 1890 to 1893, followed by Mrs Hencher in 1902.

George Restorick was a butcher and sometimes also a game dealer from 1890 to 1914. Before that he had been described as a greengrocer and game dealer, also on Lyme Street (1883 to 1889).

Eastmans Ltd had a butcher’s shop on Lyme Street from 1906 to 1939. The business was later bought by the Dewhurst chain, and closed in 1992.

Frederick Dare was there from 1923 to 1939.

Chard Street


Robert Grigg Knight had a bakery on Chard Street from 1838 to 1873. In the latter years he also acted as a brewer’s agent.

William Willmott was a baker and confectioner from 1850 to 1857, and also a grocer. He had previously had his premises on Castle Hill.

William James Gill was a baker, confectioner and brewer’s agent from 1878 until 1902, followed by Sidney Owen Gill (1906 to 1939). He was mainly described as a confectioner, and from 1914 also had premises on Trinity Square (see above).


Arthur Nunn Snell was a painter and game dealer (but not a conventional butcher) on Chard Street from 1902 to 1919. He was later also described as a provisions dealer.

Axminster’s General Food Shops and Wine Merchants

This section of the website covers a range of food shops, other than bakers and butchers (which are dealt with separately). It also covers more specialist wine merchants.

The following information is drawn almost entirely from published trade directories. Whereas a listing on a specified date means that the business concerned was almost certainly active as recorded, the absence of a listing could be an error or omission, and the careful guidance that ‘absence of evidence should not be regarded as evidence of absence’ applies.

The places and occupations of all named individuals can be assumed from the headings.

Market Place or Square


The only grocer listed on Market Place was William Charles Tytherleigh, in 1889. His main business was on Castle Hill (see below).

Castle Street


In 1856 Isaac Dare was described as a beer retailer and shopkeeper (probably but not necessarily a grocer) based at the Phoenix Inn.

Greengrocers and fishmongers

Frederick K Enticott was a greengrocer on Castle Street in 1889.

In 1926 Frederick J T Arnold was a fruiterer as well as running the Phoenix Inn, while Frederick William Enticott was listed as a greengrocer that same year.

Castle Hill


William Willmott was a grocer and tea dealer from 1844 until 1856. He was later also a baker and confectioner with the Misses Mary and Elizabeth Willmott.

John Tytherleigh was a grocer, cheesemonger and tea dealer from 1838 until 1857.In the later years he also dealt in hardware.

Susannah Dare sold groceries and sundries from 1844 to 1850, while William Blackmore was a grocer, tea dealer and coal dealer from 1850 to 1857.

William Slyfield combined a business selling stationery and postal services with groceries in 1856. He later moved to Victoria Place.

William Charles Tytherleigh was an ironmonger and grocer in 1870 and 1890, but in 1873 was only listed as an ironmonger. (In 1889 he also had a shop in Market Place.)

Samuel Hencher was a cheese merchant and shopkeeper in 1879. He continued in business as a cheese dealer until 1883, but does not appear to have retained the shop.

Other grocers and produce merchants who were listed once only on Castle Hill were Samuel Loud (1878); Joseph Collard (1883), Mrs Jane Loud (1890); A Wide & Co (1923); W&E Blight (1935); and Axminster & District Cooperative Stores (1939).

Greengrocers and fishmongers

George Palmer was a fruiterer in 1866. Samuel Enticott and Frank Enticott were both listed in 1890 as fruiterers, but in 1893 Samuel was described as a ‘marine store dealer’ (i.e. fishmonger). He later moved to South Street.

William Palmer had a fish and fruit shop listed on Castle Hill in most directories from 1890 until 1910, and in later years he also sold hardware. However, in both 1889 and 1893 the address was given as Poplar Mount (between Chard Street and North Street) rather than Castle Hill.

Jesse Oliver Chapple was a greengrocer from 1926 to 1930, followed by Albert Hawkins in 1939.

Wine merchants

Thomas Whitty Hallett was a wine and spirits merchant on Castle Hill with a substantial business. He had been there some time by the time of the first directory listing in 1838, and remained until his death in 1848.

He was succeeded by George Westlake Mitchell (1856 to 1866), who then merged his business to form Mitchell, Turner & Co (listed in 1870, with other outlets in Seaton and Lyme Regis). From 1873 to 1883 the business was badged as James Turner & Co.

Richard Southwood & Co then had a wine and spirits merchant’s business on Castle Hill from 1893 to 1923 (he died in 1824).

From 1926 to 1939 Carr & Quick, an Exeter-based firm of wine and spirits merchants, beer bottlers and cider manufacturers, apparently ran their wine and spirits business from the Castle Inn (which is usually described as being in Market Place, though the directory listings all give their address as Castle Hill).

Victoria Place


William Slyfield had a general shop on Victoria Place from 1870 until 1883 which sold some groceries, and in particular tea.

Henry White was a grocer and butter merchant from 1878 to 1889, and in the later years also sold wine and described his shop as a draper’s. He was followed (1890 to 1906) by John William Aplin, who sold groceries and wine as well as describing himself as a provisions dealer and supplier of glass and china.

Edwin Dawkins is understood to have started his business in the 1880s, but was only listed in directories as a grocer, draper and ironmonger in 1893 and for a short while thereafter. By 1902 the word grocer no longer appeared in the description of his business, which went on to become one of the two largest shops in Axminster.

John Morris was a grocer and draper in 1906. Then from 1910 until 1939 William Trump (later Trump’s Stores) sold groceries, wine and confectionery. Trump’s Stores also had outlets in Seaton, Colyton, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary.

Trinity Square


John Daniels was a grocer who also sold sundries in 1844. After a log gap William Hayman was in business as a draper and grocer from 1870 until 1883. He was followed by Thomas George Batstone & Co (1889 to 1893), whose emphasis increasingly shifted to that of a draper and outfitter.

From 1914 to 1919 William Joseph Harris (who had previously been described as a baker, like his mother before him) was listed as a grocer. By 1923 the business name was W J Harris & Son, and as well as groceries they sold wine and had a café. The grocery and wine shop remained a feature of Trinity Square until the 1990s.


From 1923 to 1939 Axe Vale & Thames Valley Creameries Ltd had a wholesale dairy and egg business at the point where Trinity Square meets West Street. The business was later re-badged as the Axe Vale Devon Creamery.

Wine merchants

Between 1883 and 1914 Thomas Stone had a wine and spirits merchant’s business on Trinity Square. He appears to have started and finished on the Square, but to have moved to premises on West Street during the middle years. From 1906 onwards he also had a cider-making business.

As noted above, W J Harris & Son had a wine shop on Trinity Square from the 1920s to the 1990s.

West Street


In 1870 Samuel James French was a grocer and provisions dealer on West Street.

Stanley William Moon & Co was a grocer from 1910 until 1923. The shop was not always listed thereafter, but in 1935 Moon’s Stores (proprietor O B Gans) was again listed. In 1939 F G Stuart was named as the proprietor.

Greengrocers and fishmongers

George Restorick, who was also a cattle dealer, had a greengrocer’s shop on West Street from 1873 to 1879. He later moved to Lyme Street.


The Newbery family (Abraham Skinner Newbery, followed by Isaac Newbery) had a dairy business at the bottom of West Street from 1906 until 1939. They also had shops on South Street and Lyme Street at various times.

Church Street and Silver Street


In 1844 Thomas White was described as selling groceries and sundries on Church Street.

South Street


John Chapple was a grocer and tea dealer in 1844. He was followed by John Loveridge, a grocer and draper (1850 to 1857); William J Bentley (1866); Thomas Bishop, a provisions dealer (1873) and then Emma Bishop (1878). Mrs Jane Loveridge was also a grocer and draper in 1878 (her relationship, if any, to John Loveridge has not been researched).

James Moore was a photographer and grocer from 1890 to 1902, with the emphasis increasingly on photography at the expense of the grocery business. Over the same period (1890 to 1902) John George Stocker was a grocer and boot dealer.

From 1890 until 1906 James Smyth had a grocery business on South Street as well as on Lyme Street and at the Town Mill. He also sold wine.

Greengrocers and fishmongers

Samuel Enticott & Son was described as a fishmonger from 1902 until 1914, but as a greengrocer from 1923 to 1926. The business is not always listed, but in 1935 Frederick William Enticott was described as a greengrocer, and in 1939 Samuel Enticott & Son was again listed as a general shop. The business was later taken over by Geoffrey Enticott, and remained a feature of South Street until 1991.

H J Sansom was a greengrocer from 1935 to 1939.


Abraham Skinner Newbery had a shop selling milk and scald cream on South Street from 1878. The business was later purchased by Salter & Stokes, and operated there until 1902.

Lyme Street


Thomas Chapple was a grocer, cheesemonger and tea dealer on Lyme Street from 1838 until 1857. Mrs Lucretia Chapple was listed separately in 1856 and 1857.

James Reece was a grocer and cheesemonger in 1838. He was followed by Sarah Cross (1844 to 1857), described as selling groceries and sundries, and in the later years also described as a draper.

William Hayman was a grocer and draper in 1870, and William Garraway was a grocer and tea dealer from 1870 to 1873.

Richard Rundle was a provisions dealer from 1873 to 1879, as was Miss Emily Rundle in 1883.

James Smyth was a grocer and butter factor from 1878 to 1906 (and he later had several other business lines as well as an outlet on South Street, and was the tenant of the Axminster Town Mill).

Mrs Elizabeth Palmer Lord was a cheese dealer from 1910 to 1919.

James Reginald Smith was a grocer and wine retailer in 1910.

Sydney Sheppard & Co was a grocer from 1914 to 1935. In 1939 Sheppard’s Stores were listed with E Webber named as the proprietor.

Greengrocers and fishmongers

Charles Jeans was a greengrocer and fruiterer (and later a saddler) from 1879 to 1889.

George Restorick was a greengrocer and game dealer from 1883 to 1889. He was not listed as a greengrocer thereafter, but was a butcher as well as a game dealer until 1914. In 1919 Miss Emily Restorick was listed as a grocer (as well as a confectioner, which was her main line of business thereafter).

Frank Enticott was a fruiterer from 1893 to 1902.


Charles Newbery had a dairy on Lyme Street from 1906 until 1914. He was followed by Hector Loveless in 1923.

Mrs Eliza Jane Hill had a fishmonger’s shop from 1914 to 1935. Other fishmongers on Lyme Street were Mrs Elsie Felicia Loud (1919) and Roland Hawkins (1939).

Chard Street


T C Cawley was a grocer and cheesemonger on Chard Street in 1838.

Solomon Newbery was a grocer from 1850 to 1866. He was succeeded (apparently after a gap) by Miss Mary Newbery, described as a grocer and confectioner from 1878 to 1893.

William Hayman was a tea dealer in 1889.


Miss M R Rowe from Fawnsmoor Farm had a dairy shop on Chard Street in 1935, followed by Messrs N&H Rowe in 1939.

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