History of the Palk Arms – A 16th Century Free House
Situated on land once owned by the wealthy Palk family, and possibly sited on what was, a very long time ago, the village green.
Early records from 1642 show that five gentlemen were licensed to sell alcohol in Hennock; Robert Pethybridge, Samuel Elliot, John Creale, John Potter and a Mr Pawlye.
In 1760 a Mr William Medland was the sole licensee for the village, but no mention is made of the name of his inn or establishment. The early records usually only recorded the name of the licensee and not the house.
John and Samuel Loveys, who were also carpenters by trade, ran the New Inn in Hennock from 1825 – 1828. This pub was situated next to Weavers Cottage, opposite the Church.
Stipulations in the licence of 1824 state that the landlord ‘ shall not fraudulently dilute the beer, ale and other liquors in the house, shall not permit drunkenness or tippling, nor suffer any gaming with cards, draughts, dice or bagatelle, nor permit or suffer any bull, bear or badger baiting, cock-fighting in any part of his premises, nor to permit men or women of notoriously bad fame, or dissolute girls and boys to assemble in his house’.
I did not come across any more licences in the DRO so I have to assume that the Palk Arms only became a Public House sometime between 1828 and 1838. That is not to say that it wasn’t an established inn from a much earlier time, but it was more likely a hostelry rather than solely a drinking establishment.
Christow, just a few miles away in the Teign Valley used to have a pub called the Palk Arms, also owned by the Heavitree Brewery in the early 1900’s. In Kenn, on the way to Exeter, the current Ley Arms pub used to be called the Palk Arms.
There was a Palk Arms in Torquay and one on the Teignmouth Road in St. Marychurch. The Palks who lived at Haldon House and Torquay, were instrumental in establishing Torquay from a small fishing village in 1767, to a thriving port and township.
Also in St. Marychurch, next to the pub, there used to be a Palk Arms Hotel and also the Palk Arms Brewery. In his book about Torquay, John Pike mentions the old brewery, which for a time was called the ‘Mortimer Brothers old-established Palk Arms Brewery’. The pale ale bitter was sold for1/8d (eighth of a penny) for a gallon.
In Newton Abbot in 1843, there was a Palk and Pinsent Brewery on the corner of Halcyon Road (formerly Mill Lane).
In 1749, records of the village show that a Mr J Tapper paid 16 shillings (80p) for a hogshead of cyder. A hogshead was about 50 gallons!
The 1861 census shows that William Sanderson, a baker by trade, resided in the Palk Arms and the 1891 census also shows another baker, Thomas Loveys in residence. By the entrance to the Ladies Room downstairs is a large bread oven, eight foot in depth and twenty inches in height internally.
In 1891, the Palk Arms had a family of ten living in the house and the adjacent Union Inn, a Cider House was home to family of nine.
The main door has been moved since the early photographs were taken and at one time there used to be a doorway leading directly from the Palk into the Union next door.
The layout inside the pub has been changed over the years. When you walked in the old entrance, the bar & drinking areas were on the left and the large fireplace on your right was actually in the owner’s front room. A smaller fireplace was by the bar and it was here that the ale drinkers congregated.
Just past the bar were two semi-circular settles placed opposite each other forming a circle, where the village elders would sit with their pints. To the back of the pub, where the dartboard was situated, you would find the gaming & sporting types. There was sawdust on the floor and spittoons, as you would imagine.