Just four out of 24 pubs still pull pints in the High Street

Elizabeth Buteaux

High Street - F S Bean, Mens outfitters and The Bell
Hemel Hempstead Local History and Museum Society cared for by the Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd
Olde Kings Arms High Street, Hemel Hempstead
Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society cared for by The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd
Pub sign outside The Rose and Crown public house, Hemel Hempstead
Dacorum Heritage Trust
The White Hart, High Street, Hemel Hempstead
Hemel Hempstead Local History and Museum Society cared for by the Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd

At one time there were 24 licensed premises in the High Street, Hemel Hempstead, but now only four remain.  It is difficult to trace exactly where all the best known pubs were located over such a large time span as five centuries, especially as the High Street was not numbered until the later nineteenth century.  Some disappeared altogether and others become private houses or other businesses.  Also, many were squalid beer houses, which did not appear in trade directories.  However, the use of the Billeting Return of 1756, later trade directories, censuses, wills, inventories, plans and newspapers have made it possible to locate many of the lost inns. Nineteenth century photographs and eighteenth century lithographs and prints also provide invaluable source material.

Before the search for the lost pubs, it is best to look at the four licensed pubs that still remain.  The Bell at No 51 was the largest and most prestigious inn of the High Street. The Billeting Return of 1756 reveals that Thomas Edge, then landlord of the Bell, had room for nine beds and stabling for 54 horses. Dating from 1603, the original inn still exists, but is hidden by a later eighteenth century extension which was built to level up the building line of the street.

The King’s Arms, which is the second of the remaining inns, is situated a few yards further south from the Bell.  This is an early seventeenth-century building with a plaster faced road front.  This first landlord appears to have been Abraham Crawley who held a licence to keep an ale house.  However, in spite of being charged at the Quarter Sessions in 1626 for keeping a disorderly house, Crawley was appointed Constable of the Town Area in 1630.  His son, John Crawley, later took over the King’s Arms and in 1659 he, too, was appointed Constable.  In 1750 the inn was renamed the Prince’s Arms and towards the end of the eighteenth century it merged with a neighbouring inn called the Black Inn, with John Mallotrot as landlord.  Later the two inns separated, with the King’s Arms reverting to its original name.  The King’s Arms then enjoyed an increase in trade when the Plait Market moved from Collet’s Yard in 1832 to the yard at the back of the inn.  During the nineteenthcentury the King’s Arms competed with the Bell to provide catering services for the Bailiwick at the Town Hall.

Situated further down from the King’s Arms, at what is now No 19, is the Rose and Crown.  The building today is not the same as it was in 1523, when William Patewyn combined the business with his trade as a butcher, for the building was altered with a brick front at the beginning of the eigtheenth century.  The Rose and Crown alleyway gave access to the cattle markets and the fairs held in the meadow at the back of the inn.

On the opposite side of the street is the White Hart, which is the last of the four remaining inns.  nlike the Bell, this timber-framed building does not have a false front, but is one of the seventeenth century inns which stood facing the original street.  First registered as a tavern, the accommodation was poor as Richard Sear, the landlord, could only offer three beds to travellers. By the end of the nineteenth century, George Sanders, who had been in charge since 1838, was conducting a respectable business and the property was classified as an inn.

13th July 2011

This page was added on 14/12/2011.

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  • My Great Grandfather, Richard Dansie and his wife, Ellen ran The Bell Inn for a time in 1876. Is there a list of licencees covering that period? I would like to see the names either side of him so I can work out how long they were there. His oldest son, Willian was born there in 1876 but they soon moved to Worcester.

    By Tony Jones (20/12/2020)
  • Hi Tony
    Thanks for your comment. I will forward it to Herts Archives & Local Studies, who may be able to help you.
    Editorial Team

    By Marion Hill (01/03/2021)
  • Hi there, funnily enough I have stumbled across this page/comment after finishing a shift there tonight. It’s called the white hart and I work there a couple of times a week, over the road from where I live, 15th century pub, massive scary cellar with lots of ghost stories! I can get photos if you like ?

    By Jordan (22/07/2020)
  • Hi, my grandfather was born in 1877
    In the Coach and Horses now 82 High Street, is there any information on this pub please? My grandmother’s aunt and uncle ran the Rose and Crown in the eighteen hundreds too, William and Mary Smith. Thanks Andrew

    By Andrew Bartley (01/07/2020)
  • Hi, We are currently in search of my great grandfather. He was sent away when my great nan was pregnant. My grandad never knew him. The only information we had was that his name was Charles Thompson and he was related to the Townsend family of Hemel Hempstead. We were also told the Thompson’s owned a shop in Hemel High street. I done some digging and found out that Charles resided at 69-71 High Street in 1939 but i cannot for the life of me find out what the shop would have been called in that time period. The residence is currently the Saffron Restaurant. Do you have any information about this address from 1900-1940?

    By Emma Hazell (03/06/2020)
  • My father’s parents, Bill and Edith Pitkin, ran a pub in the High Street called the Brewer’s Arms. It too was a lodging house.

    By Karen Geipel nee Pitkin (11/05/2020)
  • Hello,
    My great grandfather owned a pub in Hemel Hempstead and I believe it is now the White Horse Inn, but may have been called the White Hart Inn when he ran the pub. His name was Francis Glenister and he was married to Daisy Hoodless. Do you have any information that you can share about this pub and his ownership? Do you have any pictures or stories? Thank you! Robyn Fergus from Denver, Colorado USA

    By Robyn Fergus (27/11/2019)
  • Hello Robyn,
    Thanks for your comment. We’ll look into this post any information we find about the pub.

    By Marion Hill (14/01/2020)