This week we welcome back guest contributor Andrew Mullis, who has kindly provided another article in his series about the pubs in the Wycombe area. Andrew writes:

Walking today from the eastern end of the High St along Easton Street to Pann Mill it is hard to imagine that this was once the location of eight pubs.

If we start our walk on the corner of Crendon Street we soon find number 4 Easton Street which used to be the One Star and, next to it, number 5 that was once the Seven Stars. The tiny Seven Stars dates from about 1751, although the building is probably older. Don’t be fooled by the frontage, which is a mid-1970s addition.

The former One Star at number 4 is also an old building but was probably only a pub for a short time. The One Star was owned, as were most Easton Street’s pubs, by Wheeler’s, whose brewery was on the other side of the street. According to Mr Charles Raffety, who gave a number of talks on Victorian Easton Street at the turn of the 20th century, the One Star was opened by another brewer in opposition to the Seven Stars as a result of an election. It’s not clear who the opposition brewer at the One Star could have been, nor after which election it was opened. Lord Carrington bought number 4 in 1852 and sold it in 1893. It is likely that Wheeler’s acquired it from him.

By 1888, Wheeler’s were anxious to open pubs in the expanding west end of town. They surrendered the licence of the Seven Stars so as to get a licence for the new Desborough Arms on Desborough Road.

In 1894, Wheeler’s leased the One Star to Weller’s of Amersham. As well as being a beer house, the One Star was a common lodging house. It closed in 1911 when local brewers agreed to voluntarily surrender a number of licences in Wycombe rather than have the local magistrates choose which licences they would refuse to renew. Closure in 1911 left only two lodging houses in Wycombe, both in Easton Street.

At 23 Easton Street was the Greyhound. It was a coaching inn and perhaps built specifically to service the London to Oxford coaching trade. Probably too far from the town centre to flourish after the coaching trade on the Oxford road ended in the mid-19th century, it was sold at auction in 1893. The new owner confirmed in 1894 that it would not remain as an inn. Today, this handsome building is offices.

The Goat was on the London side of the St John’s Hospice ruins. Open by 1801 as the Crown & Sceptre it may have been an alehouse well before that. The jetty (the upper floor overhanging the ground floor) suggests it was a medieval timber-framed building. Also a common lodging house, it closed voluntarily in 1913, being sold at auction in the same year. It later became a shop before demolition for road widening.

Our last pub on Easton Street’s north side was the Coach & Horses. Once a terrace of three cottages, it was licensed by 1735. Its position by the Rye made it an obvious place for football clubs and football competition organisers to meet and celebrate. The upper room of the pub, with its alarmingly sloping floor, seemed never to be short of guests. Only two families were in charge from 1859 until closure, the Georges and the Dents. The Coach & Horses was Easton Street’s last pub, a victim of Easton Street’s redevelopment in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

Crossing the road and walking back along Easton Street’s south side will take us to the site of the Two Brewers at 57 Easton Street, where the Law Courts are now. This building (it was the Compasses until 1857) had been a pub since at least 1794 when the 22-year-old romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote to his brother about his stay there. Coleridge had, unwisely, joined the 15th Light Dragoons under an assumed name to avoid his creditors until, billeted at the Compasses, his commanding officer found out who he really was. He later helped arrange his discharge.

In 1925, the Two Brewers was one of the pubs in Wycombe that the magistrates targeted for closure on the grounds of redundancy. Wheeler’s solicitor argued its case and the licence was renewed. But once the magistrates had a pub in their sights they rarely let up. At the 1926 licensing meeting the magistrates argued that the Two Brewers was redundant as it did little trade and that the Cow & Hare and Coach & Horses were not far away. The brewer’s argument was that each pub catered for a different class of customer: the Cow & Hare was a common lodging house and, by definition, low class, whereas the Coach & Horses was a better class establishment, leaving the Two Brewers catering for a class of people who would not use either pub. The licence was renewed in 1926 and every year until closure in 1934.

At number 72, almost opposite the Greyhound, was the previously mentioned Cow & Hare. This became the last common lodging house on Easton Street, and the last in Wycombe.

What was a common lodging house? It was a place where poor working people could get a cheap bed (typically fourpence a night) and a basic meal. The very poorest, who could not afford fourpence, would go to the workhouse. Also called doss houses, common lodging houses were regulated by Act of Parliament in 1851. They had to be registered and inspected, had a lodging house-keeper and a deputy. The modern equivalent would be a hostel. The Cow & Hare dated from before 1756. It was noted for its good stables and chairmaking facilities. It closed in 1932 and was swept away by the redevelopment of the street.

At 89 Easton Street was the Paul Pry, perhaps named after a play written in 1825 about a character that we might now call a Nosey Parker. By 1842 it was the Windsor Castle run by Hosea Boot. It’s clear from the quick turnover of licensees in the 1890s that it was a troubled pub. Despite this, Wheeler’s Wycombe Breweries made some improvements in 1899. However, in February 1903 the borough magistrates and pub-owning brewers reached agreement that 12 Wycombe pubs should be closed by 10 October 1903, the Windsor Castle being one.

Clarke’s solicitors, who were next door at number 90, acquired their neighbour. Today, it seems number 90 Easton Street has simply absorbed the old Windsor Castle, almost growing a skin over it so that it is no longer obvious that it was a separate building. And, sadly, the whole is empty and dilapidated, despite it being a listed building, as are all the surviving pub premises in the street.