VILLAGE CHARACTERS


  

On the page about Village Public Houses there is a small piece about Allen Staples. In the Bromley Directory entries for Farnborough in 1865  Allen Staples is recorded as the beer retailer at the Coach and Horses. Amongst the other landlords of the public houses in Farnborough you will also find George Penfold. George was the landlord of the Woodman, and the older brother of Annie Staples, Allen’s wife.

However, two years after the Directory was published Allen Staples was charged for keeping a disorderly house on two occasions, one being a Sunday when drunken people were noted to be in the garden of the beer house. These offences were recorded by the local policeman William Watson. Three years later in 1870 Allen Staples was reported by the weights and measure inspector, Mr Churcher, to the magistrates for serving him an under measure drink. As a consequence, and probably to the relief of the authorities, his career as a pub landlord was short lived and by 1871 his licence had been rescinded. In light of the previous events this was probably of no surprise to the locals, who may have been disappointed or pleased by the news.

As for George Penfold, he moved away from the village, as there appears no further record of him other than he may have married  in 1851 an Emma Everest. An Elcey Everest was also born in Farnborough in 1852, the daughter of Anne Everest. The relevance of these two pieces of information is that in the 1881 census George Penfold is recorded as working as a potman at the Abbey Arms, Abbey Wood. At the same public house working as a servant is Elsie Everest also born in Farnborough, though in 1871 she had been living in Greenwich with her mother, now married with her new family. Therefore, it may have been coincidence of name and place of birth, but it could have been father and daughter working at the same pub.

With regards to the Coach and Horses, after Allen Staples left, the pub remained in the family. Anne Staples’ younger brother Henry Nanthiel Penfold became landlord by 1871. Henry and his wife, also called Ann, ran the Coach and Horses until they died in 1906 and 1907. Within a few years of their respective deaths the pub was pulled down to be replaced by a new set of cottages.


As for Allen Staples, in 1871 he moved to a cottage between the village and Locksbottom and set himself up as a Market gardener. Later he is recorded as a fruit and vegetable merchant and by 1911 a retired potato merchant. Having moved to Locksbottom, Allen his wife and family were living almost next door to the Police Station where Police Inspector Watson resided, the same officer who had arrested him for keeping a disorderly house in 1867 !

The family now grown to seven children eventually moved into a cottage in Wellbrook Road, later to become number 7. Allan and Annie were living there in 1911 when he had retired and probably continued to do so until their deaths; Annie in 1913 and Allen in 1922. Of their family it may be of interest to learn that two sons, Fred and Edgar were Fruiterers by 1911, and both are buried in St Giles graveyard, as are their parents. His youngest son, Sydney, had joined the Navy during the First World War and became an aircraft mechanic by June 1916. An indication of how the times and the world were changing

Bob Donovan


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