Originally the Mug House was the church ale house, and its history goes back to the
Plantagenets and the House of Lancaster.
"Brew houses were at one time an essential form of income for the church, for with
some 75 feast days to celebrate; it meant money in the coffers of the church."
It is known that Puritans closed most of the ale houses locally because of the drunken
and lewd behaviour of the populace at the time but the Mug survived. In 1638, the
Constable of Claines had closed six filthy public houses in Claines, in an attempt
to quell the plague, but again not the Mug House!
"Our poor are provided for, the highways repaired, riot we know none, gamesters we
know none, drunkenness none."
The name “Mug” is said to be connected with the old time Communion plate, or possibly
also associated with clinching a deal over a “mug” of ale.
The Mug House was the venue for the parish “Vestry” meetings. In the 1784 Vestry
meeting 2 shilling and 11d was spent on a new cloth for the Communion table, whilst
the ale bill for the same meeting was £3 15 shillings!
Claines Parish records recall "if it shall be necessary at any time to have a Church
Ale for the maintenance of the said church, it shall be lawful for them to have the
use of the whole House during their Ale”
The proceeds of the ale were devoted to Church repairs, provision of service books,
communion plate and vestments.
The Mug House contributed to the riotous festival wakes which featured in Claines
Churchyard in medieval times, which included bull and bear bating, dancing and “drunken
In 1750 a number of parishioners bound themselves under a penalty of 40/- to attend
and endeavour to halt the evil practices. The original location of the parish stocks
was between the Church and the Mug House, last used in 1853 when “a cowman occupied
this instrument of public disgrace for being paralytic drunk.”
By the time of the early censuses, the early innkeepers were women: in 1841 Ann Mansill
aged 60 and living with her, Henry Mansill, 40, possibly her son, who was a merchant.
By 1851 Ann is still there, listed as a victualler, now in her early 70s and has
the support of Sarah Russell from Hartlebury who was a house servant.
Sarah Williams (29) took over as victualler and in 1861 she was living there with
her brother Elijah R Williams, who was a clerk at the Post Office. Earlier Elijah
had lived at home with his parents James and Elizabeth who were the schoolmaster
and schoolmistress at the National School House, Claines.
Then men took over: firstly
Joseph Knott in 1871, he is listed as Innkeeper aged 62, from Astley, Worcestershire,
and his wife Mary, 54, from Watford in Hertfordshire, but by 1879 and through to
the 1881 census, Frank Evans (29) and his wife Mary Jane (30) ran the Mug and lived
there with their baby Amy.
By the 1891 census, Charles Daniels (28) and his wife Florence
(25) had taken over. Interestingly Charles who had been born in Bourton on the Water,
had previously worked as a footman at Brockhampton Park, good training for a licensed
victualler! Florence also had a good background, as her father John and mother Ann
were Innkeepers at the Fox and Hounds Beer House, at Stogursey, a small village in
Somerset, near Bridgwater.
There was a Somerset link too, in 1901 when John Minton
(40) from Hereford and his wife Bessie (36) from Yeovil in Somerset took over, but
by 1905 Albert Beck was in charge and then in 1911 George Hobbs. (Albert Beck left
the Mug to become a farmer and dairyman at Chatley Villas, Droitwich Road, Claines.
He was found drowned in the river at Bevere Lock in 1915)
George and his wife Mary
had lived in Coachmaris House, in Minto, Roxburghshire. Mary herself was from Kinlock
in Perthshire, though George was originally from St Johns, Worcester. In 1901 they
had two sons George and Cameron and father George was a coachman. Being in service,
was probably good training to run a pub! In 1911, son George (24) was living at the
Mug and working as an Engine Fitter, whilst George was listed as the Licensed Victualler
aged 53 and Mary his wife was 49.
Wally Trow was possibly the longest serving landlord, from the the 1930’s to the
1980’s, serving over 50 years. He was followed by Geoff and Barbara, John Crabb and
then in 1990 by Judy Allen who has kept up the excellent traditional local presence
and hospitality of the Mug House.
In 1947 renovations were taking place at the Mug
and within a wall, the silver head of a medieval bishop's crook, a crosier, was discovered.
It is a mystery of why it was secreted away in the Mug House but could have been
hidden with the rest of the Church Silver during the reformation. It is now used
every year by the Claines Boy Bishop.
In the 1950s the vicar told the publican of
"You fill my church and I'll fill your pub" ! He did and more than one service was
“piped” down to the Mug to ensure no one missed it.
The Mug House and the Church share many customers and live healthily side by side.
Generations of Bell ringers, choir members and parishioners have frequented the Mug
House and continue to do so today. The older children of the Church Sunday School
meet at the Mug, every Sunday, they are "God's Own Pub Club"!
Geoff Sansome/Rachel Cramp