Headington history: Pubs and beerhouses

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The Royal Standard

The Royal Standard

The present Royal Standard at 78 London Road (on the corner of New High Street) dates from around 1930, but it replaced an earlier pub with the same name built on the same site in 1861. Both pubs were, however, named the Royal Standard (after the royal flag, which is depicted on its sign).

On 27 April 1854 John Waring paid £40 for the land now occupied by the Royal Standard to William Mead Warner, a gentleman from Banbury who in 1848 had bought most of the land between Lime Walk and Windmill Road for the speculative development that by 1852 had become known as New Headington village. John Waring was the Old Headington carpenter of that name (baptised at St Andrew’s Church in 1825). In Jackson's Oxford Journal of 5 September 1857 when his petition for bankruptcy was reported, he was described as a former carpenter, wheelwright and retailer of beer in New Headington.

Waring appears to have sold the land on to Morrell’s Brewery, who erected a pub on the site, despite its proximity to the Britannia Inn. The earliest mention of the pub in Jackson’s Oxford Journal is on 6 February 1858, when people interested in purchasing “five acres of good swedes to be fed off” are asked to apply to the Royal Standard, Headington.

The four maps show, the original Royal Standard was smaller than the present one and occupied the west end of the site. It was attached to Mount Pleasant and the corner part of the site facing New High Street was not built up: hence its address has always been London Road: it was originally numbered 14 and is now 78.

Royal Standard in 1876

Royal Standard in 1921

Royal Standard in 1898

Royal Standard in 1939

At the south end of the Royal Standard’s yard (with its entrance in New Headington’s High Street) was a smithy, labelled as such on the 1898 and 1921 maps.

The first landlord of the Royal Standard was George Odey, who was primarily a blacksmith. It is first listed in a directory in 1861 as “Odey, G., Royal Standard Inn”: a grand name for a village pub, especially one with an old coaching inn a few doors to the west; the Royal Standard was more of a village pub, and the 1863 directory with the listing “Odey George, blacksmith and beer retailer” is more realistic.

The 1861 census shows Odey at the age of 34, living at the Royal Standard with his wife Ann and two young lodgers (a journeyman blacksmith and a groom); the situation is much the same ten years later, except that the lodgers have been replaced by his nephews (two Londoners called Arthur and George Stow, each of whom was to adopt one of their uncle’s two trades: Arthur was to become a blacksmith in Old High Street, and George the landlord of the Bell).

The following advertisement for the auction of a beer house and cottage in New Headington appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 22 August 1863, and the mention of the blacksmith suggests it was the Royal Standard:

Lot 1.—A FREEHOLD Stone-built & Slated COTTAGE, containing four rooms and wash-house, with large garden at the back and side entrance thereto, containing a frontage of 18ft., and extending a depth of 133 ft, and in the occupation of Mr. Rogers, blacksmith.

Lot 2.—A FREEHOLD Stone-built and Slated Four-roomed DWELLING HOUSE, and large inclosed garden in front, occupied by Mr. Alfred Taylor as a Beer-house, containing a frontage of 21 feet, and extending 90 ft. in depth. Adjoining at the back is a bake-house and yard, occupied with the above house, but not included in this sale.

From 1876, Edwin Stone was landlord at the Royal Standard. Between 1874 and 1892 he and his wife Ellen had nine children baptised at St Andrew’s Church, and the son born in 1883 was named Gilbert Alfred Tooley Stone. In 1880 Stone built new kitchens and bedrooms at the inn for the use of his growing family: a the new extension at the back of the pub can be seen on the 1898 map above. Stone is described as a carpenter in 1874, a builder in 1875, a blacksmith in 1876, and a publican & builder in 1878. It is just as well that he did not have to rely on an income from the pub, as in 1889 its annual turnover is recorded as just £153 (from which all outgoings, including rental of £24 10s. a year, had to be deducted). The 1881 census shows Stone living with his family at the Royal Standard and described as a “Builder Wheelwright & Publican (employing 8 Men)”; in 1891 he is described as just a builder and wheelwright. Stone died in 1894, and his widow Ellen took over for four years, latterly with her husband Mark Morris. He took out a mortgage on four houses in New Headington while he was landlord, but when they moved to the Anchor public house in Reading in 1898 he conveyed them to the superintendent of the Warneford Asylum.

The next landlord of the Royal Standard, Charles Green, also followed the trade of a stonemason. He was living in the pub at the time of the 1901 census with his wife Elizabeth and son Reginald. Green evidently had no use for the Royal Standard yard, and let it out.

F. Cleverly advertisement

In about 1905 Frederick Cleverly, who lived in Western (now Holyoake) Road, started a wheelwright and blacksmith’s business in the Standard yard. The advertisement on the left is from Bennett’s Business Directory of 1913. In about 1915 Cleverly moved to new premises at 207 London Road (now the Bury Knowle Health Centre)

The 1911 census shows the publican Charles Green (45) living at the Britannia with his wife Elizabeth Ann (50), who assisted in the business, and their only child, Reginald Raymond (15).

The pub was rebuilt in about 1930: see photograph of the present building when it was new, and in 1957.

Former landlords of the Royal Standard

Old building


George Odey


Edwin Stone (Mrs Ellen Stone from 1894)


Charles Green


Frank Stevens (1919–1925)
John Stevens (1926–1929)

Present building


Walter Henry Watts (latterly Mrs G. E. Watts)


R. G. Case


John W. Stround (Mrs Stround from 1987)

The Stone family in 1898

Above: Mrs Ellen Stone, landlady of the Royal Standard, in about 1898,
surrounded by her ten children, plus her daughter-in-law Kate with her baby

© Stephanie Jenkins

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