Public Houses in East & West Molesey

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1981

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Walton Road, West Molesey


Throughout the middle decades of the last century the built-up area of East Molesey was steadily pushing westwards in an inexorable march that could only end when it finally joined in an interlocking embrace with its sister village in the west.

Around 1870 John Cann, a solicitor living in Vine Road, developed a plot of land just inside West Molesey parish, on which a road was laid down and houses built. He called the road Spreyton Road, after the name of the village on the edge of Dartmoor in Devonshire in which he had been born, and where his father was the lord of the manor. For some unaccountable reason the proper spelling of the road was dropped, around the turn of the century, and replaced with the present meaningless and much more complicated name.

Realising the commercial possibilities of a public house midway between the two Moleseys, in an area which was ripe for development, a plot was reserved, on which a house, suitable for use as an inn, was constructed.

In March 1870 Mr. Cann made application at the brewster sessions for a full publican's license for the house. Which the bench declined to entertain. He then appealed for a beerhouse certificate [111], but met with no better success. He then asked for permission to sell beer to be drunk off the premises, and this was granted [112].

Later in the that year the lord of the manors of Molesey, Lord Hotham, died, and the house was named in his honour.

Lord Hotham was born in 1794, the son of Colonel Beaumont Hotham, of The Grove, West Molesey. At the age of sixteen he chose a career in the army and joined the Coldstream Guards. He proceeded with the regiment to the Peninsular, and was wounded at the Battle of Salamanca. He was present at Waterloo, and after the cessation of hostilities, whilst yet only twenty-six, entered Parliament, where he sat very quietly for the next forty-eight years. On the death of his grandfather in 1814 he succeeded as third baron, and became head of a family which could be traced back in the direct line to a Norman knight who came over with the Conqueror and was granted the lordship of a manor called Hotham in Yorkshire. He was able to sit in the Commons because his barony was in the peerage of Ireland, which did not entitle him to a seat in the Lords. He never saw active service again, but was promoted to the rank of general by right of seniority in 1865 [113].

A year after the granting of the off-license the landlord, John Lawrence, was convicted of permitting the beer he had sold to be drunk on the premises, and this facility was withdrawn. At the next licensing sessions he applied for a restoration, but was turned down out of hand. Mr. Cann, who was representing Lawrence, appealed to the bench to listen to a plea for the reinstatement of the license, to which they agreed, although telling him beforehand that it would make no difference to their decision, as their minds were fully made up. And indeed they were. The license was not returned [114].

For the next few years the house was shut up. Annually Lawrence made application for a fresh license, and annually with monotonous regularity it was refused. It is difficult after so many years have elapsed properly to understand why. Certainly personalities loomed very large in the decisions taken, and magistrates had the power of life or death over the issue of licenses, and therefore over publican's livelihoods. It was not until 1882 that the beerhouse certificate was restored, and not until well into this century that a full license was obtained.

It should be noticed that the correct pronunciation of the name should be Lord Hut-ham; and not, as some waggish 'bus conductors used to say, Lord Help Us.

In 1897 the house was taken over by William Eastoe. Mr. Eastoe, "Bill" as he was almost universally known, was a great local personality, and was chairman of the old East and West Molesey Urban District Council for many years.

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