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Shepherd and Dog Inn

If you could visit the Shepherd and Dog Inn, in the 1920's, you would find it run by Mrs Blinker, the landlady. She was helped by her daughter, Agnes and Grandson Gilbert. Although built by the Blinker family the premises was then owned by Greene King brewers of Bury St Edmunds. You would enter the Shepherd and Dog through the small front garden, through the right hand doorway. On the right was a small room, called 'the snug', which was divided by partitions, this was the room most favoured by courting couples wanting some privacy. Continuing on, you then come into the 'Tap room' , which is the main downstairs room, with its tiled floor, bench seats, large table, which was big enough to seat 14 people and large fireplace. At the entrance end of the 'Tap room' were the stairs to the 'Club room' and half doors to the cellar. The Club room was the main function room, which also contained a large table, chairs and benches. This was used for dinners, such as 'Harvest Horkeys', wedding suppers and dart matches. The cellar was not really a cellar as such, but a room whose floor was four steps lower than the main floor level of the pub. the cellar itself was built at right angles to the main building and ran along the rear wall of the terrace of three thatched cottages which were attatched to the pub (these were also owned by Greene King and let out by Mrs Blinker for 2/6 per week). The cellar had a pitched corrugated iron roof and a wooden door that opened up onto the rear courtyard. The pub was lit by 7 oil lamps, all water was drawn from the well which was in front of the front gardens, on the 'Little Green'. A good fire was maintained at all times in the Tap room. during the summer, benches were placed at each side of the entrance with tables and chairs on the grass. The living accommodation was on the left hand side of the main entrance, if the pub was not busy, anyone entering could be seen from the living room. There were no bars in any of the rooms, if you wanted a drink you just informed the host by a knock on the living room door. 

During busy occasions there would be no time for them to withdraw to the living accommodation, they would then go to the cellar and draw beer straight from the barrel or get a bottle. Glasses were kept on a shelf in the Tap room, the 'Till' was kept in the living room. As well as draft or bottled beer, there were minerals, crisps, and a variety of tobacco. Sandwiches or a ploughmans lunch were provided on request, but no spirits of any kind were sold. Greene King delivered once a week, by two men with a horse drawn dray, on average the delivery consisted of two barrels, plus bottled beers and minerals. As the ground level was higher than the cellar floor,barrels could be taken from the dray and rolled onto a brick track inside the cellar, where once in position they were made safe and left to stand for two days. In the summer, in order to keep the beer cool, wet sacks were used to cover the barrels. The dray delivered to three pubs, The Shepherd and Dog, Kings Head and Gazeley Chequers, it was a common sight to see the dray men asleep on their journey back to Bury, with the horses in full control.

Contents of the Shepherd and Dog cellar consists of:

One 18 gallon barrel of Mild One 18 gallon barrel of Old Beer (Old and mild mixed) One 18 gallon barrel of Burton Ale Two 18 gallon barrels of bitter One 9 gallon barrel of brown ale (small barrel, called a pin)

Bottles of Burton, pale, IPA and Suffolk ales, various bottles of mineral. Should any of the beer not be up to standard, a container was placed in the cellar, in order to collect this beer, so a refund could be obtained from the dray men. Any unsuitable bottled beer would also be refunded. Should supplies be required urgently, the village carrier, Alfred Plummer would collect the odd barrel from the brewery. Alfred also collected the tobacco from Ridley's Tobacconist in Bury. Tobacco was kept in a cupboard in the cellar, was still widely used in three ways, smoking, chewing and snuff. As well as the well known varieties such as Woodbines and Players, which sold for 10d per packet, some lesser known brands such as 'Sampsons old shag' were sold. Some tobacco could be used for both smoking and chewing, one variety of this type was 'Black Twist'. As a result of customers chewing tobacco, spittoons, filled with sawdust were provided, several of the older women smoked small pipes. Beer was sometimes served hot, a sauspan was on hand to heat the beer and also a poker was used to heat individual drinks. 

Normally a group of men would order, a quart of ale (served in a jug) and four glasses, the cost 2/6d, a pint of beer would be about 8d. During the harvest time, beer would be taken to the workers in the fields several times a day, at French Hall, Moulton Manor, Primrose Hill and Trinity Hall farms. Some of the fields belonging to Moulton Manor farm were nearly in Ashley. Men from Cheveley, on their way to work at Primrose Hill Farm would stop at the Shepherd and Dog at 0700hrs, drink a pint or two of beer, while waiting to collect a large bottle of beer and twist tobacco to take with them to work. In the thatched cottages on the 'Little Green', close to the pub, lived Rubby Wybrew, a much beared old gentleman, who would sit outside his house smoking and watching the world go by. He would often walk across to the pub with his mug, just for a hapeth of beer. After Sunday lunch, when the pub was officially closed, young men would assemble in the Tap room to play games, one game involved a 'kitty', the winner was the one who picked the number of the cigarette card, inside the packet of cigarettes. Afterwards 'Pitch and Toss' would be played outside. The normal games were played in the pub, two of the more interesting ones were throwing a rubber ring onto a flat board, to get inside a given area, the game was also played with halfpennies.

The other game was called "Tip it", this could be played with any number of players. It involved a number of people sitting round a table, passing under the table from hand to hand a coin, normally a halfpenny. Whosever turn it was would shout 'Tip it', all the hands were then placed on the top of the table and a guess was made who was holding the coin. the game was normally played for a quart of beer, if nothing else it must have been funny to watch. ' Pitch a penny' was also played inside, this involved throwing pennys into a 2 inch diameter hole hollowed out in a seat, there was a coin catcher under the hole. 

The pennys were thrown from about 8 feet away and the player with the highest number of coins through the hole won all the coins thrown. Harvest Horkeys would start at 1800 hrs, the farm owner, all the men from the farm and their wives would attend, the men could drink as much beer as they liked. a large meal was enjoyed and songs were sung. What food was not eaten that night was saved for the men for breakfast the next morning. Although cooking facilities were limited, consisting of oven, stove,copper and sink, Mrs Blinker managed with the help of several kitchen staff and others waiting at table. During the 20's and 30's, local pubs were a collection point for racing bets, which were left with the landlord, the bookmakers office being in Kentford. Gilbert's wife Mabel loved a flutter, her speciality being a 6d cross double. It was the custom on Sundays, for people to walk between villages, stopping at local pubs for refreshment, among those who would drop in, were members of the Joel family from Moulton Paddocks, who would arrive by carriage.

Told to me by Gilbert Vincent in January 1994, in his Church Road Home. Village Recorder John Gunson


A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac