The Lamb

The Demise of The Lamb

lt seems likely we will lose yet another piece of our village’s heritage when The Lamb is bulldozed to make way for yet more houses. Before it disappears altogether I thought l would write something about the importance of this building in our village’s history.

Before 1840 records are quite sketchy for Yapton but brewers were recorded in ancient Manorial Rolls on three occasions between 1450 to 1542, of which two mention the Dammer family. An exact address isn’t given but it is possible to have been on or near where The Lamb currently sits.

The new development (Taylors Close) is built on the site of a barn recorded in 1641 as “Marners Barn” after the family who lived in The Lamb for many generations. The earliest detailed map is the Tithe Map of 1839, which lists Marners Barn as “Barn and yard belonging to Bilsham Farm”. Adjoining this plot are 4 plots owned by George Marner: 1. cottage, garden and orchard 2. orchard 3.croft and 4. cider house and garden

This cider house was situated where the road to Taylors Close is now (effectively at the end of the garden) and probably was where George brewed his cider (you can imagine his wife not wanting the smell of fermenting beer in the main house!). The orchard, although small at just under half an acre, would have provided plenty of apples for cider making. In fact Yapton at this time was covered in many small apple orchards - there were more apple trees than people!

The censuses of 1841 thru 1871 record the Marner family with George Marner, as head of household, listed as a Master Carpenter. In 1863 he was paid 8 shillings by the churchwardens; presumably for carpentry work rather than for his cider, but the records don’t say! George died in 1866 (aged 75) and the house, and carpentry and cider making businesses, passed to his youngest son William.

In the 1800s the water was very often unfit to drink, so the usual liquid intake was beer! However this was taxed and was therefore expensive to the average “Ag.Lab.” (agricultural |abourer). To counter this, The Beerhouse Act was introduced in 1830 which allowed “beerhouses” to be set up. These were allowed to sell only beer (not spirits or wine) and were free from tax (unlike beer sold in the more traditional “alehouses”). Anyone could set themselves up as a beerhouse to brew and sell beer for drinking on or off the premises.

Unsurprisingly this resulted in a huge growth in beerhouses. However their runaway success became a problem since they often attracted the wrong sort of clientele and, in an effort to reduce the problem, the Wine and Beerhouse Act of 1869 required all beerhouses to be licensed by the local authority. This allowed some control over the suitability of the premises and the character of the landlord!

So what does this have to do with The Lamb? lt means that from 1869 all ale-, beer- and cider-houses were required to be licensed. The licensing records from 1870 record William Marner as having a beerhouse called The Lamb and this is the first recorded reference to the name.


Lamb Inn c.1950

Lamb Inn c.1950

lncidentally the same 1870 records also show the first appearance of the “Black Dog” (run by Mary King). The “May Pole” (sic) was a more traditional alehouse and was first licensed in 1868. The “Shoulder of Mutton” actually pre-dates the earliest surviving records and was a fully licensed alehouse even before 1824 (when it was being run by James Irish).

It seems the carpentry business and having a family of four all under 10 years of age was too much work and William Marner sold The Lamb to the Walberton brewery company “M.E. Ellis & Son” who installed William Hotston (from Binsted) as landlord in the summer of 1871. William ran the business as a full-time “beerhouse keeper” until his death in November 1891 when The Lamb passed to Frederick Hotston (father of Charlie who some of you may still remember).

So we can say that The Lamb has existed as a “pub” as we know it since 1871, but before that it was a beerhouse. Traditionally this was a part-time business. Beerhouses were often literally that; someone made cider and sold it from a room in their house (or a lean-to on the side) to local labourers on their way home after a day working the fields.

As to when the current building was constructed it’s hard to say; an architectural survey would be required to detail and date the undoubted additions which have been made to the building over the years. However it seems possible the current building could be over 230 years old as it appears on a map dated 1778.

How times change: in 1755 Hannah Marner paid 1/- (that’s 5p to you youngsters who weren’t around for decimalisation) in rates on the house, which had increased to 5/9d by 1850 and a whopping £5-12/6 by 1935.

Lamb Inn c.1950

As far as Yapton’s ‘heritage’ goes it is one of the oldest sites in the village. ln the early 1800s there were only 66 houses in the villages of Yapton/Bilsham (population 543). As a beerhouse it would have been a focal point for village inhabitants (people in Bilsham simply would not have gone to the Mutton - too far away and too expensive). Sadly by the time you read this it is likely that Arun District Council will have sounded its death knell - flattened and gone forever.

The Lamb 2012

Geoff Westcott
May 2012

(Originally published in Yapton News, July 2012)

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