The George Inn

13 and 15 High Street (The Old George) were formerly an inn and are now two attached houses—17th century and late 18th century. In 1809 the inn was owned by Jonathan Noad until he died in 1814, when he left it to his son, Jonathan. At that time it was occupied by William Sidney Smith and his family continued in the inn for nearly 70 years. The directory for 1861 described Smith as the maltster & dealer in hops. Mrs. Charlotte Smith was listed in the Morris’s Directory for the George Inn from 1872-1875. When it was sold in 1877, the property included the dwelling-house, as well as the public house, beer and spirit cellars, brewery, malt-room, two stables, coach house, yard and productive walled-in garden. By 1883, William Hood was listed for the George Inn. From 1894 to 1931, the directory lists a Thomas Henry Jackson here. Fussells’ Brewery bought the property in 1932 and it became a private residence for one of the Brewery staff.

Above: The George Inn (centre, left) c1903

Extract from A History of Brewing in Rode by S Fussell and B Foyston:

“This is now, ‘The Old George’ at 15, High Street, Rode (Photo 5).  In his will, dated 12th May 1809, Jonathan Noad of Rockabella House left, inter alia, to his son of like name “all that inn or public house called the George with the Brew house, stable, garden, and all the appurtenances thereto belonging situate in the Parish of Road and in the occupation of William Smith.”  By 1830 Pigot records the keeper as Elizabeth Smith and the Tithe Redemption Map of Road in 1840 shows the owner as Mrs. Helen Noad, and the keeper is William Smith, a son of Elizabeth.  On 7th December of that year (again revoking all previous Entries) he declared to the Excise Comptroller a Brew house containing a Mash Tun (in the Yard behind the Dwelling House), three store rooms for Beer, Ale, Spirits and Tobacco for sale (the first being the Bar, the second on the left hand side of the entrance passage and the third “adjoining the Brewhouse in which the Malt and Hops are kept” – this latter was a Cellar).  By an Entry of 26th, March 1842 he added a Malthouse, though he revoked this only a year later on 3rd April 1843.  In Pigot’s Directory of 1842 the keeper is still William (Sidney) Smith, and he was there also described as ‘Maltster’; either Pigot was mistaken on this occasion or perhaps there were further Excise Entries which we have not seen.  

Whatever the truth, by 1861 he is also described as a ‘dealer in hops’, suggesting that he may perhaps have supplied other local brewers, including Henry and then Sidney Fussell.  He was not a supplier later to the Fussells firm, however, who bought much of their Malt from Baileys in Frome, and other ingredients from a number of other suppliers.  Interestingly William Sidney was also the owner of the Red Lion in the 1870s and his wife and later widow, Charlotte Smith, was the keeper of the George Inn from 1872 to 1875 but her Trustees sold the premises to William Bailey on 1st November 1877.  By then it included a “Dwelling House” besides the “Public House, Beer and Spirits Cellars, Brewery, (with excellent water supply), Malt Room, two stables, Coach House, Yard and productive walled garden”.  Interestingly enough, the Brewing plant, including a 246 gallon copper furnace, oak store casks from 1239 gallons downwards, and other equipment were soon sold on.  From 1885 to 1898 Directories show William Hood as keeper and for another long period, from 1902 to 1931, Thomas Henry Jackson, but brewing would have stopped by then at the latest.  

Fussells bought the George in 1932, the licence being granted to P. J. Fussell on 1st December of that year, but there was no application for its renewal at the Justices’ Sessions on 9th February 1933.  Valuation Records from Frome (Ref. 6) tell us that the former brewers’ traveller (and later Supervisor of Managed Houses), Mr. Stubbs, became the occupier of the now private house, with S. Fussell & Sons, Ltd. as owner.  Many of our older readers will recall a post with its Inn Sign atop in the Pub forecourt; it figures prominently in the well-known photo (see below) showing the local Celebrations Organising Committee and Rode schoolchildren marching to Christ Church on the occasion of the Coronation of King George V in 1911.

After World War II the Inn remained a private house, owned by Colonel and Mrs. Wilkinson, who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. David Hollis.  In 1992 they had photographs, which showed that Road Band had practised in the long room over the Beer Cellar.  During the years of brewing the people at No. 17 High St. were involved and the well was at No. 13.  No. 15 had a door on the upper floor into which the grain for malting was hoisted and it was either malted there or at No. 17.  There is no evidence to show that the Pub’s name was associated either with our Patron Saint or with King George II, even bearing in mind that many pubs of this name were built between 1750 and 1760.”

2 August 2023
Last Updated
2 August 2023