Copyright © 2021 The Mug House - Claines

Claines Lane, Claines, Worcester, WR3 7RN, England

Tel: 01905 456649


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 roystering”.

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.

Around 1855 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  kept up the excellent traditional local presence and hospitality of the Mug House. Following the sad loss of Judy in 2022, her son Russell, continues with the traditions.

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 the Mug:

"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 used meet at the Mug, every Sunday, they were "God's Own Pub Club"!

Geoff Sansome/Rachel Cramp