Page added 22 October 2009
The earliest reference in the Flying Post to this, still trading, public house was in 1854 when it opened as a beer house. In 1856 there was a reference to a Clifton House Hotel, which may, or may not, have been the same place.
In April 1854, Mr William Beedell, the landlord was charged with permitting a disorderly house. PC Plan found several people drinking and making a noise between 11 and 12 midnight. The landlord stated he had been running the house for just six weeks, and the night in question was his opening supper. The case was dismissed, with the defendant paying expenses. By the September of the next year, Beedell was summoned by a neighbour for allowing cards and bagatelle to be played in his house for money. The complainant stated that he brought the charge against Beedell because he had allowed the complainant's apprentices to gamble at the house. Beedell was found guilty and fined 10s plus expenses.
William Beedell was charged with using offensive language to a tenant in a house he rented in October 1861. He was accused of calling the defendant a 'thundering rogue'. The case was dismissed. A year later, and Beedell was accused of opening on a Sunday morning – PC Trapnell had found six men in an office, off the bar, drinking around a fire, at 11am. He was found guilty and fined 10s.
By 1863, the landlord was Mr Thomas Beedell, probably a son, although there is no indication of relationship in the reports. The license was transferred from Thomas Beedle (the spelling was not consistent) to Mr W Stabback in January 1869.
At this point, the Clifton Inn does not seem to have appeared in the Flying Post – it was not until October 1880 that it was reported that the license was transferred from Mrs J Hart to William Henry Shepherd.
The house was used for the occasional sale, like many other public houses in the 19th Century. In August 1892, an advert appeared in the Flying Post for a sale at the Clifton Inn of household furniture, linen, blankets and effects. There were also the occasional inquests held at the inn, when there was a death within a short distance.
There was a forced transfer of the license from Mr W B Short in April 1893. It would appear that the magistrate thought that Mr Short would not be in a position to run the house as he was also a member of the Exeter Fire Brigade. Mr Short argued that his wife would run the inn on those few occasions when he was called out to a fire. He wanted to retain the license and stated "He would sooner give up the Fire Brigade than the public house". The magistrate was not convinced and the license was transferred to Mr Sidney George Snow.
A few months later, and the Vulcan Homing Club was formed, at the Clifton Inn, by enthusiastic pigeon fanciers in the area. They flew their first race from Whimple, a few weeks later.
The landlords young son fell down a gully outside the public house, in May 1895. Snow claimed compensation from the Council of £2, stating that the child would have died if the accident had not been observed. Then, two years later, on 12 May 1897, the landlady "dropped a paraffin lamp on seeing a rat in her bedroom. The premises were soon ablaze and considerable damage was done."
The landlord in 1902 was Daniel Elworthy, in 1916, Mr A Howell and by 1919 the landlady was Mrs Ellen Howell. By 1935 the landlord was William T Searle, whose name is above the door in the second photograph. One past landlord during the later half of the century was Tony Kellow, a retired Exeter City footballer, who had been the clubs highest goal scorer. He was also landlord of the Eagle Tavern for a time.
The inn was damaged during the blitz when it was hit by incendiary bombs.
The inn has been run since 1995 by Michaela and Simon Welland. They have recently started to open for lunches, serving a range of wholesome pub food. Michaela, who is the chef, said to the Express and Echo "We provide a whole range of familiar English dishes, such as cottage pie, hot pots, sausage and mash, lamb stew, jacket potatoes and fish and chips." Their Sunday carvery is popular with the locals, and there is seating for 80 servings.
Sources: Express and Echo, Flying Post and trade directories
Howell's Clifton Inn – photo courtesy of Terry Dickens. A few years later during the tenancy of William Searle – the occasion is unknown. Photo courtesy of Terry Dickens.
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