closed in 1872 and demolished in 1898

The Inn Signs of Bishops Stortford

Monday, August 1, 2016

Two of the Museum volunteers, Colin and Renee, have been researching the history of the many Inns, Public Houses and Hotels of Bishops Stortford and Thorley over the centuries.

This blog consists of the amusing poem below and an extract from a poem which together cleverly portrays many of the names of the Inns and pubs of Bishops Stortford and also indicate the fate that befell many of these hostelries.

As I rode in from Stansted

The grass still wet with dew,

The breaking dawn had streaked the sky


 Twas very early dawn indeed

I heard the distant clocks,

And ambling along Rye-Street

I came upon a FOX.

 I didn’t want to hunt just then,

And much to my relief,

That wily fox soon his himself

Behind a big WHEATSHEAF.

 By now the light was gaining fast,

The day had quiet begun,

And presently and straight head

I saw the RISING SUN.

A HALF MOON trembled on my left,

When poor old ROBIN HOOD

Cried out that he had lost his maid

And much he feared for good.

I tried to comfort and console

And banish his alarms,

But soon I saw maid Marion

Clasped in the BRICKLAYERS ARMS.

 Up Bells Hill I climbed amid

The silence of the dead,

Then peeped around the corner and

Behold a fine BOARS HEAD.

 Such fearsome beast should be destroyed,

Of peace of mind their wreckers,

I sought a friend for help, but found

That GEORGE was playing CHEQUERS.

One STAR still held the empty sky

And beckoned me on east,

When on the other end I spied

Another fearsome beast.

“Gadzooks” I cried “It seems that now

My sword I must rely on,”

But no, a harmless beast it was,

A very old BLACK LION.

 The SHADES of night had cleared by now,

I busted into Hockerill,

A COCK crowed shrill defiance

But I said to him “be still.”

And now a choice confronted me,

A choice of different courses,

But on the right my was blocked


 A WAGGON AND HORSES on the left

Blocking the road I spied,

My only was was straight ahead

So up the hill I plied.

“Oh for a drink at last,” I said,

“Yet beer is barred, I know,”

A draught of milk must be served instead

And here’s a fine RED COW.

 My thirst I quenched and hurried on

Though folks were still abed,

Till, when I reached the boundary

I twinned my old NAG’S HEAD

 And headed down the hill once more

And singing as I rode,

I struck the fountain once again

And took the London Road.

I heard the screams of trains below,

“A RAILWAY near,” I cried,

But hurried on and in the road

THREE TUNS I quickly spied.

Just here I smelt a funny smell

A tannery no doubt,

And judging by that TANNERS ARMS

His work he was about.

I crossed the bridge and felt the mist

Rising from the rivers bed,

When looking over a gate I saw


 “This is no place for me” said I,

“Those horns are sharp as skewers”

But racing round the bend, I ran


“Hurrah,” they cried,

“No goose you’ve won

In our great Christmas draw

But here’s a SWAN and such a bird

You never saw before.”

The SWAN into the KING’S ARMS flew,

I followed close behind;

Said I “Please give me back my bird

If you will be so kind.”

The king returned the bird to me,

I set him on the ground,

And if you want him somewhere there

No doubt he can be found.

Now when I came upon the BRIDGE,

A FALCON there I saw

Was plucking at a lovely rose

That lay upon the floor.

I gave him one upon the crown

To reach the wayward elf,

Then left him with his ROSE AND CROWN  

To mind his crown himself.

Now back and up the New Town Road

I rode with spirits gay

Because a wonderous ROYAL OAK

Had tempted me that way.

Beneath its boughs I spread my lunch,

I‘d bought a little parcel,

And was content as any king

That lived in any CASTLE.

 A maid came up and said to me

“Kind sir are you a lawyer?”

“Why no,” I said “But are you?”

She said “I am a sawyer.”

I gazed upon her arms and hands,

So full of dimpled charms,

And said, “My dear you can’t fool me,

Those are no SAWYER’S ARMS.”

 I left her then and took once more

The road to home and dinner,

A black face watched me from above

As  I’m a living sinner.

A traveller told me once that all

That Saracens are dead;

But I’ll be much surprised if that


 I don’t like that at all I thought,

Now here I’ll drop my ANCHOR,

For after home and rest and beer

My soul began to hanker.

Visions of turkey,

Pudding and GRAPES

Caused my dry mouth to water

And galloped off up Potter Street

Much faster than I oughter.

A passer-by said to her friend,

“I think its going to REINDEER

And if I spoil my lovely hat

It will give me quite a pain dear.”

Her hat was green and blue and red

Unfit for winter weathers,

And fastened on the top there waved


 Well such were my adventures in

Bishop’s Stortford town,

So while I had them in my head,

I thought I would write them down.

(This poem was written by Mr. R.W. Kell, the former landlord of the Half Moon Public House around 1930.)

The following is an extract from a poem composed and recited by the late Mr Nig Newey.

First they closed the CURRIERS,

Then they closed the PLOUGH,



It is suspected that the old Dun Cow is poetic licence as no pub by this name is recorded.


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