‘There is nothing which has yet been
contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as a
good tavern or inn’, these were the words of ‘ Doctor
Samuel Johnson, 1776. The inn has been at the heart of a
community since Roman times, and over the centuries, has
featured prominently in English literature from Chaucer to
Tickhill currently has five active "taverns
or inns" whose histories are described individually via links in
the following article.
In medieval times there were three types of
establishments offering refreshments and shelter for local
people or travellers and their horses. The alehouse was an
ordinary house, which served home-brewed beer or ale and offered
very basic accommodation, often in an adjoining barn; the inn,
however, was generally purpose-built, providing both
accommodation and refreshments for its patrons. Many were built
by religious establishments for visitors and pilgrims, or
craftsmen, such as masons, carpenters and glaziers, who were
involved in the sudden growth in construction of these imposing
buildings; some were originally built as hostels for the Knights
Templar. Taverns were grander places, which sold wine and were
to be found mainly in towns. All were considered to be social
centres at the heart of the community.
It is difficult to say whether any of
Tickhill’s inns had their origins in medieval times. The
Carpenter’s Arms is close to St Mary’s Church, and one could
speculate that it might have taken its name from the fact that
it would probably have housed carpenters, who were working on
the church from the late 12th century until the early
During the 18th century, society
had been plagued by the evils of gin drinking; in 1830, the
government of the Duke of Wellington sought to curb this with
the introduction of the Beerhouse Act. This was intended to
encourage people to drink beer, which was considered less
harmful, and introduced a new type of drinking establishment
known as the beerhouse. Any person, who paid rates and was of
good character, could purchase a licence for two guineas to sell
beer or cider from their own home; the licence did not extend to
the sale of spirits or wine. As a result front parlours in many
homes throughout the country were transformed into beerhouses,
and Tickhill was no exception. Many took advantage of the Act
and the Travellers Rest, the Royal Oak and the White Horse on
Sunderland Street, together with numerous other ‘unnamed’
establishments opened in the village.
For further information
about beerhouses and the Travellers' Rest and the
Royal Oak (now, The Oak) see the ‘Tickhill
Beerhouses’ text on this website.
The 1869 Wine and Beerhouse Act made it
mandatory for anyone who sold alcohol to hold a licence, and
this extended to the off-licence, an establishment that sold
alcohol for consumption off the premises. The term ‘off-licence
keeper’ was not used in the census returns or local trade
directories: ‘beer retailer’ appears to have been the official
description. The licensing registers of 1886-1891 make reference
to four ‘off’ licences being granted in Tickhill, however only
Stacy Jaques of Northgate traded solely as a ‘beer retailer’;
Thomas Lane of Sunderland Street, together with Thomas Skinn and
Walter Jarvis, both of Market Place, were first and foremost
The impact of transport
For centuries the inn had been the focal
point for the community, providing a venue for the local
magistrates court, public meetings and auction sales of land and
property; late 18th century editions of the
Doncaster Gazette make reference events such as these taking
place at both the Red Lion and the Scarbrough Arms. From the
mid-18th to the early 19th century, inns
became grander, some had courtyards, and many new ones were
built to cope with an increase in the coaching trade. In the
first half of the 19th century, services to London,
Glasgow, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stamford and Lincoln all called
at the Red Lion. During the 19th century carrier
services operated from the Millstone and the Three Crowns to
Doncaster, Gainsborough, Nottingham, Sheffield, Rotherham and
Worksop. However, by the mid-19th century, the
increasing popularity of the railway became a threat to road
transport and this impacted greatly on the inn trade. The 20th
century saw the advent of motorised transport, which was to
re-vitalise what was by now known as the ‘public house’ and
many, such as the Millstone and the Travellers’ Rest in
Tickhill, were rebuilt or modernised.
The Inn Sign
Inn signs were introduced by the Romans;
the practice continued and centuries later, in Saxon England,
one house in the community became the place to get ale and a
sign, known as an ale stake – a pole set up outside -
identified it as such: an example can be seen on the Bayeux
Tapestry. In medieval times, inns needed to identify themselves
to the population, which was largely illiterate, a written name
was useless so a visual sign was used.
In 1393, King Richard ll passed an Act,
which made it compulsory for all breweries and places selling
ale to display a sign outside for the ale taster to identify.
Since then English inns have displayed a sign which reflected
life at the time.
From early medieval times many towns and
villages throughout the country had appointed ale tasters. A
reference in the Tickhill Court Rolls of 1700 records the
appointment of six ale tasters by the Honour Court; Richard
Warde and Daniel Onion were responsible for the inns and
beerhouses on Northgate, William Smith and David Foster for
Westgate, and David Roades and Thomas Cotton for Sunderland
Street. Their duties were to inspect and maintain the quality
and quantity of ale sold in these establishments.
It is not known exactly how old Tickhill’s
inns are; the earliest located references in official records
and newspapers show that both the Red Lion and the Black Swan
(later renamed the Scarbrough Arms) were trading in the 1760s.
Again earliest located references suggest others, such as the
Millstone, the Carpenter’s Arms, the Three Crowns and the White
Horse on Northgate were established pre-1840; with the exception
of the latter, all are still trading in Tickhill today (2009).
Detailed information on the six
aforementioned inns can be found by clicking on the links
The Carpenter’s Arms
The Three Crowns
There were also several other drinking
establishments, which had a shorter existence, and about which
very little is known.
The Angel appears to have stood in Market
Place in the early 19th century, trade directories
show Fred Saxton to have been the licensee in 1822 and George
Pailthorp in 1828, after which there are no further references.
The 1848 Tithe Award and Map show the
Tarrare Inn stood in Market Place, three doors away from the Red
Lion. The inn was named after Lord Scarbrough’s horse, Tarrare,
which won the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster in 1826; it had been
bred at Tickhill Stud Farm and trained on the Sandbeck estate.
The first reference to the Tarrare Inn appears in Pigot’s
1834 Directory, just six years after the last reference to
the above-mentioned ‘Angel’; although no evidence has been
established to support the fact, one could again speculate that
the Angel had changed its name to Tarrare, to commemorate the
celebrated St Leger win.
The Tarrare seems to have been in business
for no more than 40 years; the last located reference appears in
Charles William Hatfield’s Historical Notices of Doncaster,
Vol.3. which refers to a renewal of the licence in 1868.
Licensees from 1834 to 1868 included Edward Flower, John
Credland, Thomas Wadsworth and lastly, Thomas Willgoose.
The Labour in Vain
The Labour in Vain was located on Northgate
in the early 19th century; local trade directories
show Thomas Whitaker to be the licensee in 1822, George Ellis in
1828 and Francis Gleadall in 1834. No further references to an
inn named the Labour in Vain appear after this date, however, by
1837, the first reference appears to the White Horse on
Northgate with Francis Gleadall as licensee – could this be a
new inn, or like the Tarrare, had the Labour in Vain been
A history, directory and gazetteer of the County of York.
Vol.1. West Riding.1822.
Tickhill: portrait of an English country town. Waterdale
Chronicle: various references
Dunkling, Leslie & Wright, Gordon, A
dictionary of pub names. Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1987.
Hatfield, Charles William. Historical
Notices of Doncaster, Vol.3. 1870.
Directories of the West Riding of Yorkshire 1867-1936
John, The Doncaster District: an archaeological survey.
Museum & Arts Service Publication. 1977.
Survey Maps: 1854, 1894, 1901 (Godfrey ed.), 1929 and 1931.
Barrie, A haunt of rare souls: the old inns and pubs of
Yorkshire. Smith Settle. 1990.
Pigot & Co.
Commercial Directories for Yorkshire, 1828 –1841.
Directories of the Northern Counties 1848 &1858
Award & Map 1848
Peter, Doncaster district old inns and taverns. Bond
A history, gazetteer and
directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Vol.1.
(The photographs which relate to this topic are in the
Gallery section of the website under "Society Activities >
Commercial > Pubs, Inns, Off-licences")