Before the days of Pubs as we now know them, people generally purchased, and drank, their beer and ale in private dwellings known as Beerhouses. The Beerhouse Act of 1830 allowed the householder to pay a license fee of two guineas to be allowed to retail beer and cider from their own house.
Previously one of a pair of worker’s cottages built before 1846 (see the Leintwardine Tythe map for the earliest confirmed record) the Sun Inn became a Beerhouse sometime between 1861 and 1871. We know this because, in the 1861 census, a man called William Jones, who lived in the cottage, gave his occupation as tailor but when he filled in the 1871 census he changed his occupation to Tailor and Beerhouse Keeper.
A map dated 1884 clearly shows the building labeled ‘Sun (BH)’ and we are pleased to tell you the Sun has been in continuous operation since that date.
More recent history of the Sun Inn
A description of the Sun Inn
The following is an early description of the Sun:
“It is constructed of coursed stone rubble with a Welsh slate roof and brick stacks, and is of single-pile plan with single storey outshuts across the rear. The front elevation is of four irregularly spaced bays with two doors and sash windows with stone sills and lintels. Two of the windows to the ground floor are later wooden casements. Internally the public room is to the right of the entrance hall. This is a sparsely appointed room with late-19th century brick fire surround and red tiled floor. It is furnished with simple wooden benches and chairs, the only fitting being a plank screen with armrest to the right of the window. The parlour to the left of the hallway has tongue and groove matchboarding to dado level, and a wooden mantel piece and cupboards. Beyond this the kitchen serves as the beer store and servery; the kegs are kept on a wooden rack beneath the stairs.”
It hasn’t changed!
Thanks to research by Leintwardine History Society, we know that James Savager followed after William Jones and that he was followed by James Lippett and his wife Sarah who ran the Sun for around 20 years (certainly from1890-1909).
In 1913 Charles Lane is listed in various directories as being the beer retailer at the Sun and the electoral roles for 1938 and 1945 continue to show Charles Henry Lane at the Sun Inn. Flossie Lane, born in or around1914 to Charles and May Lane, carried on running the beerhouse until June 2009.
The Significance of the Sun
The Sun Inn has been listed Grade II and has strong claims to historical and architectural significance:
“Outwardly the Sun Inn is unassuming; it is what the building contains, or perhaps more accurately, what it does not contain, that makes this a remarkable and very rare survival. Research by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) suggests that the Sun is one of the three or four best examples in the United Kingdom of a very simple public house that survives unaltered. It is noteworthy precisely for what it lacks: bar counters became increasingly common from the 18th century onwards, and CAMRA’s work suggests that only approximately fifteen pubs in the UK survive without them. Similarly the lack of a cellar is also important; at The Sun barrels are stored on a movable wooden rack in the kitchen. Research indicates that not more than twenty-five pubs keep their casks in a separate room at ground floor level. This type of humble rural beer house was, and is, extremely vulnerable to alteration; most examples would have evolved into larger and more sophisticated premises during the 19th century, absorbing the domestic spaces of the building. The Sun Inn continues to be overwhelmingly domestic in character in terms of both its fittings and plan form. The kitchen/beer store is only accessible through the owner’s parlour and thus the private and public spaces of the building are not overtly separate. In terms of fittings there is very little in the fabric of the building to suggest that this is something other than a private dwelling – there is not the ornamentation or fixed seating that one might expect to find in stereotypical pub. However, closer inspection reveals that there are indicators, albeit rudimentary, of the building’s public use. The public room contains plank screening and there are what appear to be back rests in the hallway (suggesting that this space may also have been used for consumption of beer); the tap room has cupboards and shelving for the storage of glassware, more than one would find in a domestic house, and there are the urinals at the rear. Trade directories and census returns indicate that the business has been operating continuously since at least circa 1860s and has been in the hands of the same family since the early 20th century. The fact that it has not been subject to a succession of modifications over more than a century of business is extremely significant. Its survival as an example of the most rudimentary of licensed premises provides evidence of the early phase of the development of public houses.”