In 1661 an inventory was made of all the rooms of an unnamed inn. It was certainly in the Market Place and may well be a description of The Bull, which has existed since the 1500s. The only other large inn was one called The Swan, backing on to the river, which ceased trading by about 1730.
The main room of the premises, where customers were served, had a long wooden seat with a high back, three benches, a table and a wall cupboard for storing glasses. There were 22 casks of beer in the cellar, each containing around 60 gallons – totalling about 10,000 pints. Beer was brought to the table in the inn’s sixteen stone flagons, as pictured. The cellar also contained 28 empty casks, so their brewhouse was used on a large scale.
The kitchen contained pewter dishes, salt cellars, sauceboats, candlesticks and pots & pans of all description for serving food to travellers … plus six chamberpots for those staying overnight. The two other rooms on the ground floor (known as parlours) contained beds, tables and “other necessaries”.
Upstairs were six rooms used for sleeping or storage, each known by a different name. The most intriguing is “The World’s End Chamber” – possibly the furthest from the staircase? There was also a Green Chamber, a Little Chamber, a Chimney Chamber, The Gatehouse Chamber, and The Great Chamber. This last room contained four silver bowls, a silver salt cellar and three silver spoons, so was presumably occupied by the innkeeper. It had basins & ewers for washing and more furnishings than the other rooms, including eight cushions. The Chimney Chamber was used for storing spare bedding, table cloths, napkins and towels.
There were eleven beds at the inn, ranging from a sealed bed with a wooden canopy and feather mattress, to low trundle beds which could be stored underneath, press beds with folding wooden frames and truss beds which held straw mattresses.
Malt and oats were stored in the garret, with ten pigs in the yard, a coal house and stables.
The innkeeper in 1661 was Margaret Thorpe who was aged at least seventy and had been widowed three times. Her first husband, Thomas Shorthose died in 1620 and the following year she married Nathaniel Smith of Deeping St James. They were at the inn when he died in 1625, leaving money to the poor of each parish and five shillings “for the mending of the wooden bridge”. Margaret remained there, later marrying Thomas Thorpe who owned extensive fishing waters and a duck decoy near Crowland.
After forty years at the heart of Deeping life, including during the Civil War era, Mrs Thorpe would be an invaluable source of local knowledge. If only she could tell us the name of her inn…
This photograph of the Market Place, taken around 1900 shows The Bull Commercial Inn on the right, and on the far left, Abraham Payne’s grocer’s & draper’s shop.
This month the display in our Heritage Box in the Market Place pays tribute to the men of Deeping St James and Market Deeping who served and fell in the Second World War:
Vickers Lavender BENNETT 1924-44, Richard Harold CARTER 1917-42, J HARDY, Wilson HENFREY 1893-1944, Roy Cyril HORTON 1924-43, Walter Stanley LYNN 1922-43, James Lawrence Anthony MULLIGAN 1923-43, James Robert MOULDING 1925-44, George H PEARSON 1900-44, James Alister ROGERS 1898-1945 and Robert Cecil Blake WYMAN 1923-44.
We have researched their stories, and if anyone is unable to visit the Box, but would like information about one of these men, please email email@example.com. We are uncertain of details relating to “J Hardy” who is listed on Deeping St James war memorial, and would welcome hearing from anyone who can identify him.