Chelmsford pub index
A listing of historical public houses, Taverns,
Inns, Beer Houses and Hotels in Essex. The Essex
listing uses information from census, Trade Directories and History to add
licensees, bar staff, Lodgers and Visitors.
All detail provided by Colleen
Residents at this address
In his position as landlord, Richard Putto was
evidently popular with his fellow-townsmen, for we find him elected on more
than one occasion to the honourable office of parish warden at the Church of
St. Mary's. In fact, he apparently took great interest in matters
appertaining to the town generally.
Potto was a most zealous and enthusiastic upholder of the Roman Catholic
cause. This was the prevailing religion of the day, and conscientious
Protestants, or so called "hereticks," unfortunately had a sorry time of it
; several of them, both in this and other towns throughout Essex, suffered
martyrdom for conscience sake.
Mention is made in Foxe's Book of Martyrs of Potto, and of "The Cocke"
inn. It is in connection with the case of George Eagles alias Trudgeover,
who was apprehended near Colchester, and stood his trial at the Old Sessions
House, Chelmsford, on the charge of treason, upon which indictment he was
found guilty, and sentenced to be "hung, drawn, and quartered." Foxe records
After sentence had been pronounced he was carried to the Crown, at
Chelmsford, where Richard Potto, the elder, of the Cocke, teased him to
confess that he had in his prayer offended the Queen, and to ask
forgiveness, when he said he had not offended Her Grace. He was shortly
after placed upon a hurdle or sledge, and drawn to the place of execution,
being first bound, reading devoutly with a loud voice from a psalm book in
his hand. Then the said Potto continued to tease him until the Sheriff
commanded him to desist.
" The Crown," to which Eagles was in the meantime conveyed by the sheriff,
was situated at the corner of Springfield Road. At this inn, temp, Henry
VIII, there was a room set apart which was known as the " sheriffs prison,"
and in which were placed the king's arms. Owing to this incident, the
hostelrie has actually sometimes gone by the name of " The King's Arms," in
lieu of the above-named sign.
Dr. Taylor, it will be remembered, was lodged in this particular room for
the night when on his way from London to Hadleigh to suffer martyrdom. ".
The Crown " Inn was shortly afterwards pulled down, and upon its site was
erected one of the best known taverns in Essex— "The Old Black Boy." The
first part of Eagles' sentence is supposed by some to have been carried out
at Rainsford End, the local Tyburn.
There was a field near this spot, now built upon, and marked on the old
tithe map " Gallows Field." It is from this fact that the lane adjoining,
leading from the high road at Rainsford End to Waterhouse Farm, is called "
Gallows Lane." Hundreds of criminals have suffered for various offences at
Gallows Field ;
Not so with regard to the case of Eagles. In support of this theory, there
is an instance of a similar sentence being carried out in Chelmsford a few
years previous to the above, that of a clergyman of Great Leighs, who had
been chaplain to the queen, named Dr. James Mallett, who had the courage to
express his sentiments regarding the king (Henry VIII), and who was executed
for this offence, as the following extract from an old record in my
possession will show: "Jaymes Maylette, clerke, Batcheler of Dyvinyte and
P'son (parson) of Moche leyes, was drawen, hanged, and quartered on the
markett hyll Chelmesforde for hygh treasone on Frydaye ye firste daye of
There is no doubt but that Putto was an eye-witness of both these gruesome
spectacles. Possibly he was present also at the burning of the martyr Wats,
who slept the night previously at an inn nearly opposite to "The Cock,"
named the " Lyon Ine."
In the year 1557 the name of Richard Putto appears among the list of
ratepayers of the town (numbering about 130) in the warden's accounts, being
the : " Quarter's roule gathered uppon ye parrishoners of Chelmsforde and
Moulsham by Master Reynoldes, Master William Myldemaye, and Rychard Maryone,
churchwardens from mydsomer, the yere of o"" Lorde God 1557 untyl that daye
twelvemonth 1558: — Item receyved of Richard Putto for foure quarteres, VP
This seems to be a very small annual payment, but it must be remembered that
the value of almost everything, compared with the present time, was then
extremely low. For instance, a quart of beer only cost one penny, a quart of
wine eight pence, and the wage of a moderately competent artizan was eight
pence per day. (There were also 240 pence in a pound).
In the same year another reference is made to this inn as follows : " Payd
at Putto's, at the Coke, for ye clarke's brekefast when he came to help sing
messe (mass) before y® justis of assice, XIII*" This individual, it is
recorded, came from " Writtal," and "receyved for his servis— XVIIP"
Concerning Putto's death, Foxe states : " Though he lived until Queen
Elizabeth's reign, he had little comfort, and then wrangling with two of his
neighbours in his own house, and feeling himself not well, he desired a
servant to accompany him to a chamber, when he fell on a low bed like a lump
of lead, and, foaming at the mouth, never spoke afterwards, being senseless
for three or four days, and then died." The entry of his death in the Parish
Register is simply : " Richard Putto, innholder, died 5th Januarii, 1559."
1557/Richard Putto/ratepayer, 1557; occasionally ‘warden', St. Mary's; died
in Chelmsford, 5 January 1559/../../.. *
A subsequent landlord of " The Cock Inn " was named Browne. He, like his
predecessor, took no little interest in parish affairs, being one of the
inhabitants of the town who with others advanced the money to help carry out
the " Miracle," or "Passion playe," as it was called, in connection with the
church, and by which amusement as well as instruction was afforded to the
townspeople in those old dreary, monotonous days. This took place at the
feast of Corpus Christi, and usually lasted for several days.
Hence the following extract from the warden's accounts in the year 1562 : "Paide
unto Goodman Browne, of 'Ye Cocke,' for olde detie he lente at the
firste playe, XL*" Later on one Nycholas Sutton was " mine host " of this
tavern, and in the year 1607 he was delegated to the office of churchwarden.
The wine for sacramental purposes at St. Mary's was supplied from this
hostel, and also from the " Whyte Harte " hotel, the latter some years
previously being described as "abuttinge uppon a heathe." This, no doubt,
had reference to the then wild, uncultivated land at the rear of the hotel,
towards the river, and overlooking the grounds of the old Friary.
1560 - 1562/Goodman Brown/supported & promoted annual
parish ‘Passion Playe'/../../.. *
1591/Widow Alestan/paid 2d rent in 1591, including barns, stables, yards and
1607/Nicholas Sutton/also churchwarden, St. Mary's/../../.. *
On the occasions when the plague broke out in Chelmsford, more than one of
the household of " The Cock Inn " fell a victim to its ravages. It was bad
enough in 1603-4, but in the year 1625 it raged fearfully in the town.
Travellers and others fleeing from London generally made Chelmsford their
first halting place for the night, and in several instances they brought the
distemper with them. It is a curious fact that servants and " chamberlaynes
" at some of the inns of the town were the first to take the disorder, then
followed the various members of the landlord's family. In most
instances the landlord himself was the last to succumb.
Those were gloomy times for Chelmsford, trade being almost at a standstill.
The inhabitants were driven almost to their wits' end. In their extremity
numbers flocked daily into St. Mary's Church, and partook of the sacrament.
Consequently an extraordinary quantity of wine was consumed. Ordinarily,
38s. was sufficient outlay for " bred and wyne " for the year ; but on that
occasion something like £8 was expended, bread then being a penny a loaf,
and wine (as before mentioned) at the rate of eight pence per quart. This,
too, was at a time when the population of both Chelmsford and Moulsham did
not exceed 2,000, and only adults communicated. During the pestilence of
1665 matters were even worse, and such was the demand for graves that in
some instances persons were actually buried in the gardens or orchards
attached to their houses. According to tradition, this was the case at " The
Cock Inn," and it would be not a matter of surprise if, in digging the
foundations for the Wesleyan Sunday Schools, which will be located in the
garden, a skeleton or two was unearthed.
Although this inn was generally known as " The Cocke," according to the
title-deeds of the property the original name was " The Cocke and Coache."
As is often the case in a sign with more than one name, the latter term, by
continued disuse, is dropped. Evidently it was so in this instance. The name
of this sign was adopted in allusion to the pastime of cock-fighting, which
was indulged in to a great extent in former times.
What the affinity of " The Cocke and Coache " indicates, it is not easy to
define. It is a significant fact, nevertheless, that on a coach arriving in
a town where it was known that a cock-match was pending, the passengers oft
times constrained the coachman to defer continuing the journey until the
match had come off.
The stewards of the Chelmsford Races in former times, in order to entertain
the numerous visitors who were sojourning in the town for three days on
these occasions, besides providing balls, concerts, and other
entertainments, generally inaugurated a cock-fight. In The Chelmsford
Chronicle of July 18th, 1777, there appears an advertisement headed : "
Chelmsford Races. A main of cocks to be fought, between Middlesex and Essex,
at the 'Saracen's Head.' Feeders — Fisher, Middlesex; Dorrell, Essex."
Bufton, in his Coggeshall Diary alludes to the numbers of fighting-cocks
that emanated from that locality, and which were delivered at London and
1776/John Marryon/for several years, ending 1776/../../.. *
1777/John Murduck/Alehouse Keeper, Licensee 1777; Sureties held by Thomas
Hull & Henry Sweeting/../../.. *
Happily this barbarous custom has long since died out. It is many years
since a cock-fight took place at this old hostelrie. All those who
participated in the so-called pleasure are gone and forgotten.
But not so with regard to Putto, for the names of Richard Putto and " The
Cocke Inne " are so indelibly stamped upon the page of history, that they
will be perpetuated and remembered so long as the world lasts.
Situated on the east side of High Street, Chelmsford, and abutting on the
old stone bridge, recently stood a building of somewhat unpretentious
exterior, with no attractive appearance whatever, or anything at all
striking to a casual observer. Save only those who might be cognisant of the
facts concerning its historic associations, numbers would naturally pass it
unheeded. However, as it has just been demolished in order to provide a site
upon which to erect a more imposing structure for the Wesleyan community of
the town (in lieu of the present chapel in Springfield Road), the present
time may not be inopportune for recording and giving certain incidents and
events that have transpired — which to some may prove to be interesting — in
connection with these premises in the old-time days.
Few, probably, are aware that this erection formerly figured as a
much-frequented and noted old hostelry, dating back for nearly four
centuries, and once known as " Ye Cocke Inne."
leaden casements and projecting sign, could not fail to be observed by
strangers and others, it being one of the most conspicuous houses to be
seen, more especially the side front facing the river, which was plainly
visible for some distance when coming down Moulsham Street.
With exception of the end wall of red bricks — a more recent addition — the
erection consisted principally of lath and plaster, an extraordinary
quantity of massive oak beams and joists being used in its construction,
many of which measured a foot square. To give some idea of the extent of
ground the building and premises comprised, there is a frontage of 57 feet,
with a depth of about 125 feet to the backwater known as the " gullet," and
the garden —
which is approached by a small bridge over the latter — measuring 68 feet by
Subsequent to its being an inn, which is some-where about 150 years ago, a
brick parapet was carried up, and the whole exterior plastered with stucco.
Although internally it had been subjected to modernising alterations,
nevertheless its oak-panelled hall, and likewise rooms on the ground floor,
substantial staircases, spacious landings leading to several capacious
rooms, and sleeping apartments, also almost endless closeting and store-room
accommodation, with extensive cellarage, running under the adjoining house,
are plainly indicative of the purpose for which it was evidently intended,
viz., a tavern well suited to afford excellent accommodation to travellers
in general, and the public in particular.
The top of the building, with its quaintly-formed lean-to, was perhaps the
part most intact. There was to be seen the oak balustrading of the Tudor
type, surrounding the staircase on that particular landing. In one of the
back rooms adjoining, there appeared to be a window filled in, leaving only
a small aperture to admit the light, no doubt efiected to avoid the window
duty impost of former days.
The vehicular entrance was by the side of the river, next the stone bridge,
or more correctly speaking, the original wooden bridge consisting of three
arches thrown over the Cann by Bishop Maurice. The workshops and shedding,
now falling to decay in the spacious yard at the rear, were no doubt once
some of the stabling utilised when this was an inn.
* Provided by