In the late 18th / early 19th Century it is estimated that Southam had 15 pubs operating at the same time. Today, Southam has just four remaining public houses plus the old boy’s school is now a Sports & Social Club, but each of those pubs boasts a historical background as long as the arm that raises your pint of beer!
During the 17th Century there were at least three public houses in Southam, because they each stamped tokens, a form of small-coinage used by each trader. They were the “Mercer’s Arm’s”, the “Drapers Arms” and the “Bunch of Grapes”. We also know that the “Olde Mint” is one of Southam’s oldest buildings and is thought to be where the Southam tokens were stamped. This was where King Charles’ soldiers were paid and the names mercer and draper were associated with Southam’s wealthy merchant and cloth trades. Indeed, the brother of the “Mercer’s Arms” landlady was a rich Southam merchant dealing in overseas silk and spices. As a public house was originally a house of public trade and not merely a drinking house, perhaps the “Mint” (once called the “Horse & Jockey”) was one of those old named Inns?
The “Black Dog” on Market Hill is also a very old established Inn. Southam Heritage Collection has some early property deeds dating from 1744, just after the great fire of Southam, when The Black Dog was in the hands of the Palmer family, Lords of Ladbroke Manor.
On the old Cattle Market at the top end of Coventry Street, is the “Bowling Green”, named for the bowling green that was still there in the early 20th Century along with tennis courts. This was a favourite place for farmers and auctioneers, and is where Joseph Arch held his famous agricultural labourers’ meetings. Indeed, in 1873, it is reported in the newspapers that 400 persons met at the “Bowling Green” for a Joseph Arch meeting and sat down to a meal followed by dancing!
Then there is the “Crown Inn”, situated near Wood Street car park, on the corner of Daventry Street and Wood Street, it is another ancient drover’s Inn on the Welsh Road. The Pratt family, a farming family, were landlords there from about 1760 until late 20th century.
Article courtesy of the Southam Heritage Collection and Southam Advertiser