Public Houses in the four hilltop villages of Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards

Amongst the many interesting contents of the Group’s famous Black Box is Mr King’s 1968 Local History of Cholesbury-cum-St Leonards, updated by Bert Gomm around 1986. Mr King undertook a considerable amount of original research amongst the County Record Office’s copies of Innkeepers Registers covering 1753 to 1828 and Kelly’s directories from 1847 to 1939, as well as examining title deeds at Benskins Watford Brewery and the Group’s own copies of tithe Schedules of around 1838; his work was incorporated in David and Joan Hay’s Hilltop Villages of the Chilterns published in 1971. All of this effort deserves a fresh airing and newer members of the Group will doubtless be interested in the fruits of Mr King’s and Mr Gomm’s research.


It appears that the hilltop villages were very thirsty places in years gone by. While many members will remember Buckland Common’s Boot and Slipper and Horse and Hounds filling the gap between the White Lion in St Leonards and the Full Moon and the Rose and Crown in Hawridge, there are records of no fewer that fourteen pubs and alehouses in the area. The clientele was not as well behaved as their year 2000 successors – between 1699 and 1703, Thomas Parker and Edward Ayres were several times charged with keeping unlicensed and disorderly alehouses at St Leonards and in 1906 George Winkworth the licensee of the Full Moon, was fined £2 with costs or one month’s imprisonment for permitting drunkenness, although the conviction was later quashed on appeal.

The Full Moon claims to date from 1693 and thus to be the area’s oldest public house but its first recorded licensee was Jonathan Dell in 1766. On the other hand, the Boot and Slipper, formerly the Boot, had William Miles as the registered innkeeper in 1698. By 1753 there were also registered innkeepers for the White Lion in St Leonards, the Castle, the Blue Ball and the Maidenhead (Later the Bricklayer’ Arms) in Cholesbury and the Mermaid and the Rose and Crown in Hawridge. Later arrivals were the Queen’s Head in Cholesbury and the Slip Inn adjacent to the county boundary in Wigginton Road. Amongst the brews to be enjoyed were those of the Chesham Brewery, Wellers of Amersham, the Ivinghoe Brewery and Lock and Smith of Berkhamsted. Quite a prospect for pub crawlers!

It would be a tribute to Mr King and Mr Gomm and useful to the Local history group to keep their work updated. The Editor would be very pleased to hear from anyone who knows the exact closing date of the Horse and Hounds or has other information to add.

An extract from the Local History Group Newsletter for 2000 by David Ridgwell