Introduction
From 1552 anyone who wanted to sell ale had to apply for a licence at the Quarter Sessions or Petty Sessions.

The system was overhauled in 1828 with a new Alehouses Act providing a framework for granting licences to sell beer, wine and spirits.

There have been seven public houses in Little Thetford. Three in the centre of the village - The Rose and Crown, The Three Horse Shoes and the Wheatsheaf; two across the river - The Seven Stars and the Fish and Duck; and two on the A10 - Quarterway House and Halfway House.

Many other people were listed as beer retailers.

The Three Horse Shoes

Picture looking at The Three Horse Shoes 1906
The Three Horse Shoes landlords recorded in the 19th Century were :-
  • 1793 - A Sun Life plaque gives widow Murfit as the owner
  • 1806 - 1822 Thomas Covell - publican
  • 1823 - 1831 Thomas Lester - publican
  • 1831 - 1833 Sarah Lester - publican
  • 1834 - 1846 James Markwell - publican and farmer
  • 1847 - 1850 James Yarrow - publican
  • 1850 - 1896 Owen Yarrow (half brother to James) publican, farmer and sometime butcher
  • 1900 - George Scarrow - publican
  • 1908 - Henry Dewsbery - publican

Name changed to The Three Horseshoes in the Register of Licences.

Events at The Three Horseshoes

  • 1813 - Sale of reed land. At the Three Horseshoes in two lots
    • Lot 1. 9 acres of valuable reed land copyhold the Manor of Ely Barton
    • Lot 2. Half a freehold common and right over the fertile and extensive commons at Thetford, the property of Thomas Granger
  • 1815 - Sale of old established pub with yard barn and other outbuildings, large garden well planted with fruit trees and half a common right of the extensive common in Thetford and now in the occupation of Thomas Covell

  • 1844 - Notice of extension of railway line between Cambridge and Ely and meeting of the parties entitled to commonable or other rights over or in the common land called Hole Fen and Hall Fen will be holden at The Three Horseshoes Public House

  • 1894 - An inquest was held at the Three Horseshoes on the body of Mary Howard, a widow aged 86 years

(Extracts from the Cambridge Chronicle)


Harry Edward Markham, landlord of the Three Horseshoes public house, Little Thetford

He is standing at the pub door with his dog, Pip, who would drink beer
when he was a puppy and walk about like a drunk. Photo is from about 1945


The Three Horseshoes 1957, when kept by Mr and Mrs Fitch. Closed in 1970


Fish & Duck
Described in a sale document of Hash's brewery in August 1852 as a new-built brick, timber and slate house with seven rooms & stabling for 12 horses. It had been on land purchased in 1819 from Mr Robert Scott who had entered into a bond not to permit any wine, beer etc to be sold in any house or building thereafter erected on the adjoining land retained by him.

(From notes given to me by Mike Petty)

  • 1850 - Richard Pope - publican
  • 1875 - Richard Pope - owner and publican - He remained there until his death in 1881
  • 1881 - Benjamin Pope, publican
  • 1909 - Frederick Pope, publican

(Information as listed in the Registers of Licences)

The Wheat Sheaf


  • 1847 - The Wheat Sheaf was run by John Yarrow and then by his wife Elizabeth until her death in the 1870s
  • Their son James, born in 1846, lived to 1930. He lived opposite the Horseshoes. His half brother was Owen - publican at the Horseshoes. James married Mary Gothard who worked at the Horseshoes
  • Another son, William, born 1849, was very musical. He played the cello and sang in many choirs
  • 1885 On Friday morning a fire broke out on the premises occupied by Mr Thomas Roberts of the Wheat Sheaf Public house by which some straw, potatoes and firewood were destroyed. The flames extended to the barn belonging to James Yarrow and it was burned down

(Extract from the Cambridge Chronicle June 19)

James Yarrow : 1846-1930
James Yarrow and he was the third child of publican and farmer, John Yarrow and the first child with his second wife Elizabeth Jeffery.

During the early 1850's, his mother was the publican of "The Wheat Sheaf" in Little Thetford and his half-brother, Owen Yarrow, was the publican of "The Three Horseshoes", also in Little Thetford.

Owen Yarrow is noted on the 1861 Census with his family and also their House Servant, a Miss. Mary Gothard of Witcham, Cambridgeshire. Seven years later, James married Mary and they lived opposite The Three Horseshoes pub.

James Yarrow died in late October 1930 and to add to the distress that his wife, Mary would have suffered, on the 5th November (Guy Fawke's Night), only a few days later, a stray firework landed on the thatched roof of their family home and burnt it down to the ground. Mary died the following February.

The Rose & Crown
No record found before 1907 when it is described in a document as a public house with 3 r 24p orchard and garden.

Tenant: J Cocklin
Brewery: Cutlack & Harlock Ltd, Forehill Brewery, Ely.

Robert Hinkin

Robert was born in 1831.His name is recorded in Kelly's Directories many times as a beer retailer. He started work on the land at the age of 10, finally giving up when he was 97. His health was remarkably good, only once attended by a doctor at the age of 96, when he fell from a ladder as a result of it breaking.

1886 - he is listed in the parish records as a publican. This could possibly be at the Rose and Crown.

Children standing outside Rose and Crown Public House

Seven Stars Public House
This stood across the river, next to the Harrimere Windmill. The landlords listed below are in Kelly's Directories, but under Barway not Thetford.
  • 1864 - Ezekial Martin Palmer
  • 1875 - George Dewsbury
  • 1883 - George Dewsbury

There is no record of the Seven Stars for 1896 or 1900 in the directory.

Henry Dewsbury is listed as a miller in 1896, so may have been at Harrimere Windmill.

Lost photo of the seven Stars

Photograph of The Public Ferry taken about 1905, from the site of the old Chapel.

The Seven Stars public house is just seen on the right. The Harrimere Windmill is in the centre.
The two older boys, Alfred and Arthur James Dewsberry, of Ivy Cottage, Little Thetford were both killed in the 1914-18 World War.

Halfway House
This building still stands halfway between Stretham and Ely. In Kelly's Directories the references are :-
  • 1922 - George Scarrow, publican
  • 1929 - George Scarrow, publican
  • 1933 - George Scarrow, publican
Quarterway House

This stood on the A10, quarter of the way between Stretham and Ely. In 1906 it was owned by William Cutlack, Littleport Brewery and kept by John Martin.

The old house way demolished by a lorry, in October 1993 and subsequently rebuilt further back from the road.

(Information from Mike Petty)

Beer Retailers
Many names are recorded in Kelly's Directories as beer retailers.
  • 1847 - Thomas Granger - brewer and beer shop
  • 1864 - John Charles - John Hinkin - Thomas Roberts (later recorded at the Wheatsheaf) - William Yarrow - Joseph Pope
  • 1883 - Robert Hinkin - Thomas Roberts - George Sennitt
  • 1896 - Fredrick Hazel - Robert Hinkin - Benjamin Pope (Fish and Duck) and farmer Thomas Roberts
  • 1900 - Robert Hinkin - John Martin (Quaterway House) - Benjamin Pope - Thomas Roberts