The Ring O’Bells claims that a hostelry has stood on this site since 1170. This may well be true, but no recorded evidence exists to substantiate this.
Evidence however does show its connection with the Church as many references from the Churchwardens accounts of the 16 century show. “Ringing Ale” must surely link the Church to the Ring O’Bells as it is now called. Previous records refer to the pub as Bells or Six Bells. There is evidence of two ale houses in Chagford to which the Churchwardens’ accounts make reference. One is St Catherine’s House (now Endecott House) and the other possibly the Ring O’Bells, but no evidence of it being called a Church House exists. There are many references of the Churchwardens of bills paid for ale for carpenters, carriers, “ale when the little bell was put up”, “expenses in ale when the beam was put up in the tower” etc. Later records link the innkeeper’s name to the Churchwardens’ accounts. In 1728 “paid Edward Pinson for beer for ye ringers ye 11th of Oct 5 shillings”; again in 1758 “pd Edward Pinson’s bill for ale and paper 4s ½d and for ale and candles 1 shilling”.
The earliest mention of the Ring O’Bells seems to attach itself to the name Gerry. Indeed the Tithe map of 1841-2 marks where the Ring O’Bells and cottages are, as Gerry’s Houses, and the name Gerry appears in Parish records from 1660. The Licensed Victuallers records show Edward Pinson (perhaps Pinsent) as being the innkeeper from 1745 to 1765 when James Beer is recorded as innkeeper. However, the Land Tax Assessments of 1780 gives John Hooper as owner, and the Beer family as innkeepers. (The Hoopers were an old Chagford family who held considerable property in the area including the Manor of Rushford. They were also the owners of The Royal Oak Inn, a pub located on the Square where Fowler’s Estate Agency is now located.)
The Beer family were the innkeepers from 1764, passing from father to son. When John Beer died in 1799 his widow Mary continued until 1802 when she marries John Stanbury who then becomes the licensed victualler. In 1811 John Stanbury becomes owner and innkeeper of the Ring O’Bells when William Stanbury purchases the property from George Hooper.
The Stanbury family remain owners of the inn until 1914. However by 1837 they had passed the running of the inn to Richard Thorn; then to William Flood 1851, John Gale 1861, and Samuel Collins in the 1870’s. It was to remain in the Collins family until 1946; with them owning, as well as running, the inn from 1914.
The Collins Family
The name Collins is one which has been connected to most of the pubs of Chagford and the Ring O’Bells is one of them.
Samuel Collins became landlord of the Ring O’Bells in the 1870’s after the widowed Emma Gale retired. Samuel was a carpenter (1871 census) living in Chagford with his parents and his daughter Susan age 11 yrs. His wife had died some years previously. Samuel married again in late 1871 to Maria Sarah Northway and together they ran the inn until Samuel died in 1877 aged 44. Maria and Samuel had three children, Sidney (1873), Ernest (1874) and Ada (1878). Also living with them was Jessie, Samuel’s other daughter from his first marriage.
Lewis Holmes 1882-1894
After Samuel’s death Maria continued as licensee until she married Lewis Holmes in 1882. Lewis, a butcher by trade, then became licensee. He was ten years younger than Maria but, for poor Maria, he too was to die in 1894 aged just 37 yrs. Maria, widowed for the second time, again became licensee until her sons Sydney and E r n e s t Ge o r g e b e c ame landlords in 1907. Both Sidney and Ernest were butchers/slaughtermen, a trade which Sidney continued in the shop/cottage next door. This left his younger brother Ernest to run the inn with the help of his sister Ada and her husband James Dawson.
Ernest Collins, landlord 1907-1946.
In Oct 1914 Ernest purchased the property from John Stanbury, the ownership of which he retained until 1936. However, he continued to be landlord until 1946, even working in the inn until 1948.
In 1936 Mrs Teague bought the Ring O’Bells including the shops and cottages. In 1943 the butcher’s shop run by Sidney and the cottage rented to Richard Perrot were sold by Mrs Teague to Webber and Sons and in 1946 the inn was sold to M.L.Fennell.
It is interesting to note that from the earliest confirmed records of innkeepers ie that of Edward Pinson 1713 to the retirement of Ernest George Collins in 1946 (233 years) only eight families have been landlords of the Ring O’Bells. This could be reduced to six if we consider that two of the families were linked by marriage!
However, from 1946 to 2018 (72 years) there has been eighteen different families/ partnerships. An average of four years each!
For the interest of Chagfordians, I will attempt to list them. Dates given may not be accurate. I’m afraid to admit that I remember seventeen of them! – researcher Chris Webber.
- 1948-1951 M L Fennell
- 1951-1959 Charles & Ann Davies
- 1959-1962 Keith & Thelma MacIntosh
- 1962-1965 Ken & Hilary Duckworth
- 1965-1965 Rod & Sheila Russell /Symons
- 1965-1968 Robert & Isabel Menzies
- 1968-1973 Bruce & Rita Malman
- 1973-1973 Colin & Rene Chesters
- 1973-1976 Brian & Pat Hoyle
- 1976-1978 John & Winifred Hayes (Betterlands Ltd)
- 1978-1979 Mike & Ann Green
- 1979-1980 Thompson/Hicks/Noon (Ann & Mike Hicks)
- 1980-1984 John & Dorothy Tribble
- 1984-1987 Desmond & Frances MacKrill
- 1987-1988 Jim & Linda Young
- 1988-2003 John & Judy Pool
- 2003-2007 Gordon & Sharon Adams
- 2007- Colin & Fran Davey