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Tales of the Artichoke

In 1831 Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of England stated that the parish of Christow “contained 531 inhabitants.” Nineteen years later Whites Devonshire Directory noted that there were “624 souls” living in the Parish.  It also listed that there was a school mistress/postmistress, a blacksmith, a cattle doctor, a surgeon, a shoemaker, a stone mason, a tailor, a parish clerk, another shopkeeper and a vicar.  Along with these tradesmen/women there were two inns, The Teignhouse Inn and more importantly, as far as this page is concerned, The Artichoke Inn. You can also see on the 1888 map below that there was also a corn mill, some alms-houses and another inn, The Palk Arms nearby. In 1850 there were 17 farms in the parish and in 1851 the Christow Lead Mine was established. Within the vicinity of Christow there was the Aller and Reed mines which were worked for  lead, manganese and silver  along with various quarries. It is therefore fair to say that many of the working men were employed either as farm labourers, miners or quarrymen, many of whom would have been regular customers at The Artichoke Inn.  Since 1988 the inn and the adjoining cottages have been Grade II listed buildings which are thought to date back to the late 17th century if not earlier.

The earliest mention of the Artichoke Inn that I could find comes from the March of 1833 when the Western Times published an auction notice for the leasing of the Crediton and Chudleigh turnpike road which was to be held at The Artichoke. In the July of that year it is evident that the inn had a skittles alley which was clearly breaking ground in the emancipation of women. “On Tuesday, a party of the fair sex took possession of the skittle alley, at the Artichoke Inn, Christow, where they played a most unmanly game; a party of young gents happening to pass joined them. The ladies being divided played so well that a public match is contemplated and expected with great interest. – The Western Times, July 20th, 1833
In 1834 The Poor Law Amendment Act was passed which in effect meant that the financial support previously available to able-bodied people was stopped, the idea being it would compel them to find gainful employment. Failure to do so could mean the only option available was the local workhouse. In order for this to work officers were appointed for the various workhouse unions to oversee matters. In the June of 1836 “the peasants were revolting” at Christow because of their displeasure at the new reforms – “John Cross was brought up by a warrant for a riot at Christow and using threatening language to Mr. Joseph Gould, relieving officer under the St. Thomas Union lately formed. From the information of Mr. Gould and the deposition of Mr. J. Hamlyn, assistant overseer at Christow, it appeared that on Tuesday last, Mr. Gould met the parochial officers of Christow at the Artichoke Inn, in that parish, for the purpose of being informed with respect to the poor of that parish, when a large mob of labouring and poor people assembled, armed with scythes, picks &c., and surrounding the house, created a great riot, swearing they would murder him; some of them proceeded to the stable where the Relieving officer’s horse was and tore the saddle to pieces. The mob was in that state of excitement that it was not deemed safe for the relieving officer to attempt to leave the house that night and he remained there until the morning. The assemblage outside the inn did not disperse until after midnight and some continued till the morning. The prisoner John Cross was distinctly identified as one of those men armed with a scythe and others were spoken to as being at the time possessed with picks, their names of course we do not mention as warrants are out for their apprehension. The prisoner Cross was remanded for further examination”. – The Exeter & Plymouth Gazette, June 11th
Bell ringing contests were a popular event whereby teams of ringers would visit the various church towers on and around Dartmoor and compete for the prize of the best peal. Christow church was a popular venue for such matches and each year the day would end with a “substantial meal of roast beef and plum pudding” at The Artichoke Inn. Shooting parties were also regular visitors to the inn at the end of a shoot. In the January of 1839 a party of “three young gents, having been on a shooting excursion, dropped in at the Artichoke Inn, when one of them rested the butt end of his gun on the floor and it went off through the ceiling and floor and lodged in the ceiling above. No other injury was done.” – The Western Times, January 12th. Various official meetings were held in the establishment and a regular event was the annual meeting of local landowners and agents who met to discuss the tithe rates and in the January of 1840 John Dormer was the host at the inn. Along with such meetings surveys and auctions also took place and on many occasions these would be for lots of local timber. It was reported in the July of 1850 that William Dunrich, aged 47,  landlord of the Artichoke, passed away. When returning across a field he slipped and broke his leg which eventually lead to his death. In the June of 1853 the bell ringers returned to Christow and partook of their  roast beef and plum pudding at the inn. . In the January of 1855 William Pinwell was the landlord and it appears things weren’t going too well for him. “I, the undersigned, William Pinwell, of the Artichoke Inn, in the parish and village of Christow, Devon, do herby request that all persons who may have claim or demand on me, will forthwith deliver particulars thereof, addressed William Pinwell, Cheap House, Christow – And I do herby give notice that I will be unanswerable for any debts my wife, Maria Pinwell, may contract after this date. And persons are hereby cautioned from giving credit to the said Maria Pinwell after this notice.” – The Western Times, January 20th. In May William Pinwell was summonsed to appear at the debtors court at Exeter Castle where his occupations listed were as an innkeeper of The Artichoke Inn, tinman, painter, glazier and plumber. The notice also added that his wife was carrying on the business at the inn. At the hearing in June it was announced that his debts amounted to £208 17s. 10½d and his credits to £34 10s. 5d. It is said that a “policeman’s lot is not a happy one,” and this was proven at the Exeter Court. In the October of 1857 Joseph Leverton and George Bidder were charged with assaulting P.C. Lee outside the Artichoke Inn. P.C. Lee testified that whilst on duty at one o’clock in the morning on the previous Sunday in Christow he saw Leverton and Bidder approaching. As Bidder passed him Lee wished him a good night, Leverton then approached him and he also wished him a good night. Leverton replied by saying “It is you is it, you bastard? we will settle you at once.” With those words Leverton grabbed Lee by the throat, Lee’s reaction was to draw his ‘staff’ and hit him across the arm. On seeing this Bidder then ran back and piled into Lee who by then had managed to get the handcuffs on Leverton. At the hearing P.C. Lee was then cross-examined and he stated that “he was in the Artichoke public house just after ten o’clock and had drank a glass of beer. He had remained in the house about a quarter of an hour; he had a disturbance whilst there with a man named Hayman, but did not threaten to split his head open with his staff. He held up the staff to him because he was interrupted in the execution of his duty. After that he had a glass of beer and a biscuit at the Palk Arms with Mr. John Hayman, a farmer, and stayed there a quarter of an hour. After that he went to Mr. Hamlyn’s house, had a glass of beer, and stopped there half an hour.” He further admitted that having detained his two prisoners they refused to go to Exeter Gaol unless they had some beer and so took them to the Fisherman’s Arms where he ordered a quart of beer but could not recall whether he had drank any. John Hall was then took the stand where he stated that he was in company with the two defendants and that they were taken to the Fisherman’s Arms where they had three quarts of beer and Lee had drank some. Leverton’s defence then gave his version of accounts insomuch as on meeting P.C. Lee coming out of the Artichoke he said “Hollo, I suppose you are on the look out?” Lee then asked him what he meant by that. Leverton the replied “I suppose you are on the look out; you will have to look out.” This was referring to the fact that he had had some apples stolen. On hearing the last remark Lee drew his staff and beat Leverton across the head thus knocking him to the ground and placed him in handcuffs. Leverton then continued to be struck with the staff and it was their contention that the P.C. “had drunk so much that his brains were cloudy, and he had taken  what was said with civility as an insult.” Bidder’s defence simply stated that P.C. Lee was drunk and it was he who was the aggressor not Bidder. Then a whole raft of witnesses gave their versions of events. Mr. Pinwell (obviously still frequenting the Artichoke) said he had seen Lee with a glass of liquor in his hand at the Artichoke. Mr. Hooper stated that he saw Lee drink a glass of gin and a pint of beer. William Partridge testified that he saw Lee drink two glasses of beer at the Palk Arms. William Yates also confirmed that he saw Lee drink three glasses of beer at the Palk Arms. John Stamp, landlord of the Palk arms stated he saw Lee drink a glass of porter with a miner.  John Hamlyn, the Parish Constable, could not confirm if Lee was drunk or not. Richard Clark explained how Lee had called him up on Sunday morning and that he was drunk and he was rambling, nearly beat the door down and woke all the neighbours. Richard Clark also said how he had seen Lee on Sunday and he was drunk. Three men then testified to Lee’s good character. – The Bench found both men guilty of assault – Leverton fined twenty shillings and costs – Bidder ten shillings and costs. 


I would imagine that very few people were satisfied with outcome of this trial as it was a miscarriage of justice. What can be sure is that P.C. Lee not a popular man as another case at Exeter’s Court the following month suggests. “William Gidley, John Williams, and Fleetwood Cross, three young men, were charged with assaulting P.C. Lee, officer at Christow. Joseph Lee said that on Saturday night last, about twelve o’clock, he was on duty at Christow, near the Artichoke Inn, when he saw a mob of miners kicking against the door of the inn, and on being asked by him what they were doing it for they replied that the other constable was in the public house, and they did not see why they had not as much right there as he had. P.C. Lee told them that the constable was not there as he had seen him a few minutes previously. They, however, still persisted in it, and he went in to ascertain whether he was there, but he had left. On coming out of the court adjoining the house, Williams threw a stone at him which hit him in the breast. He then caught hold of Williams, whereupon Gidley kicked him. He did not see Cross at the time. Two or three of the party endeavoured to rescue Williams, but P.C. Hamlyn, the parish constable came to his assistance. They then proceeded a few yards when the mob followed them and attacked P.C. Lee who gave Williams into Hamlin’s charge, and he was taken to the Palk Arms. On being left Lee was struck several times by Cross. He then took another man into custody, and Cross said, “give up the prisoner or we will knock your head off.” P.C. Lee then proceed some little distance further with the man whom he had taken into custody when Cross, with several others, followed, and Lee was thrown down. His staff was taken away and the prisoner was rescued. While on the ground he was kicked several times. One of the party struck him a violent blow on the head and said to the others, “I have settled him and now let’s be off.” Cross was about to run away when P.C. Lee caught him by the trousers and held him until Hamlin returned when he was taken to the Palk Arms where a cart was procured, and Williams and Cross with P.C.’S Lee and Hamblin left Christow for Exeter. They had not proceeded far when some of the same party came up to the cart and struck Lee several blows in the head with a stick. This injured him so much they were obliged to return to the Palk Arms where Lee was put to bed. He had been attended to by a surgeon who said he had found two contusions, one on the left hip and the other over the shoulder blade. There was, likewise a slight scratch on the left ear.” – The Exeter Flying Post, November 26th, 1857. Williams and Gidley were acquitted and discharged, Cross was sentenced to six months hard labour.
An auction notice appeared in the Western Times in the April of 1860 offering the Artichoke Inn for sale along with the two adjoining cottages. By the April of 1863 a Mr. J. Mitchell was the landlord of the Artichoke. By tradition farm labourers, miners and quarrymen have been hard drinkers and one John Hall, farm labourer was a prime example. He appeared at the Exeter Castle’s court in the May of 1864 charged with drunkenness, indecent conduct and making use of disgraceful language. P.C Crispin stated that when passing through Christow at half past eight in the evening he saw Hall outside the Artichoke “helplessly drunk and almost in a state of nudity”. He also added that Hall had previously been convicted and he was of “bad character.” – John Hall was sentenced to seven days hard labour. – The Exeter Flying Post, May 18th, 1864.
More trouble at the inn – Henry James, a labourer at Christow was charged with assaulting one James Leat at the Artichoke Inn.  Whilst there James began teasing Leat, knocked his hat off and hit him a severe blow to the face thus knocking him to the floor. – sentenced to a fine of thirty shillings. Henry James was then charged by the landlord, Mr. Mitchell, for breaking some glass windows. After being ejected from the inn for trying to fight with another man James picked up some stones and threw them through the glass kitchen windows for spite. – sentenced to a fine of fifteen shillings and once shilling and sixpence for the broken windows. – The Western Times, December 13th 1864.
The Artichoke was once again advertised to be let in the September of 1865 and was described as “a thriving business which had been carried on for many years.” From time to time inquests were often held at village inns and the Artichoke was no exception. In the November of 1865 the body of a six week old baby was found hidden in a nearby garden which was the taken to the inn. The mother was then charged with child infanticide but the inquest dismissed the case.
Weird of what? A Mr. Cornish was the landlord in 1871 and his mother owned a mangle and often took in laundry. Henry Searle, 60, a hawker, appeared at Devon Midsummer Sessions charged with stealing two ladies chemises and a pair of ladies draws. Mrs. Cornish testified that on the day in question Searle came to the inn at around ten in the morning he was very drunk when he first entered and he stayed there for several hours. He was acting very suspiciously and a farmer who was also at the inn detained and searched him when the ladies garments were found hidden under his coat. – found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour.
All change, March 1875 saw an auction at the inn for eight hogsheads of cider, an empty cask, some pigs, a donkey, and household furniture and effects, the property of George Cornish landlord of the inn who was quitting. Mr. Prowse became the landlord and was carrying on the tradition of catering for the bell ringing match with a “substantial meal.” To this day the inn and the two adjoining cottages have always been thatched and judging from an advert needed re-thatching in 1877. Mr. Prowse was seeking a thatcher who understands his work, in or outdoors. Whether Mr. Prowse found his thatcher or not is unknown but he put his tenancy up for an auction to be held on the 21st of March 1878.
Can’t park there sir – William Passmore appeared at the Castle of Exeter in the April of 1879 charged with leaving a waggon and horses unattended on the public road outside the Artichoke. P.C. Percy stated that he observed the vehicle left in the road for at least half an hour and that the road was very narrow. Passmore pleaded guilty and said he had only gone into the inn for a pint of beer. – Fined fifteen shillings and liable for a £10 penalty.
It’s hard to ascertain what happened to the auction but an advert appeared in 1879 announcing a new weekly bus service which would run from the inn to Exeter on Tuesdays and Fridays, it was placed by the proprietor, Mr. John Prowse. Christmas Eve 1880, P.C. Percy was passing the Artichoke at half-past-eleven when he saw the house open with the lights on. On entering he found six men in the kitchen sat around the table, two men in the passage and another two in the bar, all had glasses containing liquor. The result of this being Mr. Prowse appearing in court charged with keeping his house open during prohibited hours. His deference was that no liquor had been drawn and all the people were his friends and relatives. – found guilty and fined one shilling and eight shillings six pence costs. Five of the lock-in drinkers also appeared and were fined sixpence and two shillings and six pence costs.
Can’t park there sir, again – this time a farmer called Joseph Adams appeared in court charged with obstructing the highway outside the Artichoke Inn. P.C. Oldridge stated that on the 13th of July 1891 he saw Adams’ horse and trap standing in the narrow road and that it had been there for forty five minutes. He the went into the inn and saw Adams drinking with the landlord. In his defence Adams said how he was conducting business in the inn and no obstruction was caused – ordered to pay nine shillings and sixpence costs. The police constable admitted that he had allowed the horse and trap for forty five minutes before going into the inn.
At sometime prior to 1900 the licence was held by Mr. George Dolbear and in that year his application for renewal at the Brewster Sessions was held back as there was a charge preferred against him. At another hearing it was decided to renew the licence. The licence was then temporarily transferred from Dolbear to Mr. Newman Green in the April of 1901.
Over the next twenty one years Newman Green became well acquainted with the Wonford Petty Sessions held at the  Castle of Exeter. His first excursion was on June the 6th, 1902 when he appeared and was charged with “permitting drunkenness on licenced premises.”  Police Constable Mortimore stated that he saw James Aggett, a thatcher, drunk at the inn with a pint of beer Infront of him and was later staggering around the village drunk. Dolbear swore that when Aggett left the inn he was sober, three other witnesses confirmed the fact. – the case was dismissed.
At the Brewster Session the following year it was stated that the Artichoke Inn was badly in need of structural or sanitary improvements (as well as the Palk Arms), the licence was renewed on the condition that the improvements were made as soon as possible.
Mr. Green found himself back in court at the Wonford Petty Sessions charged with an offence under the Explosives Act on February 15th, 1905.  Police Constable Prideaux stated that he had asked Green if he had any cartridges for sale to which he said he didn’t have the specific gauge and that he only had two or three cartridges but he was not allowed to sell them. A few days later Superintendent Wood, the inspector under the Explosives Act visited Green and asked what cartridges he had there. Green then produced four boxes containing 278 cartridges and was then informed that there was information that he had received a large consignment of cartridges by rail. At first he denied this but then produced  another 1,900 cartridges which were kept within four feet of the kitchen fire. Green’s defence then presented the fact that in 2,000 cartridges there was fifteen pounds of powder and that any man may keep as many cartridges as he wished providing the powder in them did not exceed one hundred and fifty pounds of powder. – case dismissed.
Four months later Green was back at the Wonford Petty Sessions charged with serving Christopher Aggett, a twelve year old boy with beer, (was the lad following in his father’s footsteps, see above). P.C. Chapman related how he had intercepted the boy coming out of the inn with a quart of beer in his hands. When asked what he was doing the lad replied that a man named Jago who was lodging at their house had asked him to fetch the beer. Green’s defence claimed that he was under the impression that the boy was over the age of fourteen (the permitted age for buying beer) as he had recently seen him working on a nearby farm. – case dismissed but fined Henry Jago twenty shillings for sending an underaged boy to but beer.
June 1905 saw both Green and a labourer called John  Heath appearing at Wonford Petty Sessions, John Heath was charged with being drunk and disorderly at the Artichoke and Green with allowing drunkenness on his premises. Heath was fined five shillings and costs and Green’s hearing was adjourned until the following week. At that hearing P.C. Chapman that on the day in question he had entered the Artichoke Inn and saw John Heath in a drunken state and using foul language. He told the landlord that he would report the matter and to eject Heath. The constable the revisited the inn a few hours later when he saw a man named Symons drinking at the bar he then reminded the landlord that only the previous week he had seen Symons lying drunk in the street and had warned Dolbear not to serve him with beer again.  Another witness stated how he had on the day in question seen Symons drunk at the inn. Green then gave his evidence stating that up until eight o’clock Heath did not appear to be drunk but shortly after he began to use foul language and so was warned to stop or be ejected. Symons then came into the house and as Dolbear thought he was the worse for wear he refused to serve him. Green then left the bar to go to another room and whilst he was gone Symons then drank some of another man’s beer and he too was ordered out. – no conviction registered against Green but he was ordered to pay the costs, another lucky escape.
In the May of 1907 one William Edwards attended Wonford Sessions charged with being drunk on licenced premises, namely the Artichoke. Police Constable Chapman testified that at 8.45 p.m. he saw Williams enter the inn and noticed he was drunk and so followed him inside where he found him in a private room. The defence claimed that although the room was on licenced premise it was not open to the public – case dismissed.
Back we go to Wonford Petty Sessions in the May of 1913 when Ernest Yeo, a quarryman was charged with assaulting Newman Green and refusing to vacate the premises, James Welsch, another quarryman was charged with refusing to vacate the premises. The prosecution related how the following week both men entered the Artichoke inn and in Green’s opinion they both had had too much to drink and refused to serve them. Yeo then lunged across the bar and grabbed Green by the collar and in the ensuing scuffle an oil lamp and other items were smashed. Meanwhile the daughter, Miss Green, asked Welch to leave the inn and was met with abusive language and violent threats. Unfortunately there was no constable on duty and the two men remained at the inn for another hour when they were eventually persuaded to leave by a customer. – Yeo found guilty and fined £2 for refusing to quit and £2 for the assault, he then asked for time to pay the fines. Having been asked how long he needed he replied “according to the weather, sir!” By this he meant that due to the outside nature of his quarry job he could only work in dry weather and get paid. Welch was bound over for six months.
Newman Green filed for bankruptcy in the December of 1922 with liabilities amounting to £264 17s. and assets of around £19 9s. His reasons for the failure of his business were due to restricted licencing hours, increased trade expenses, unemployment in the neighbourhood and increased travelling facilities which reduced his trade when people drank elsewhere. An auction was held at the Artichoke at the end of December for all of Green’s household furniture and effects. On the 3rd of January 1923 the licence of the Artichoke Inn was transferred from Newman Green to Mr. R. Harris.

Today the Artichoke Inn still offers the normal services, details of their menus, meal times, takeaway food, events, and opening times can be found on their website – HERE.

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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