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Inns map

East Ilsley is unusual in that, up to 2006, it had 3 pubs in what is a relatively small village. Even now, it still has 2 pubs. In the past, however, it has had many more pubs. In the 19th century 12 different inns and beer-houses have been identified in the village, most of them lying along the High Street. Even in the 16th century there were 2 pubs, when most local villages had none.

Why so many pubs? Initially these served the coaching route between Oxford and Newbury (which became the A34). Later, when the Sheep Fairs were at their peak, numerous pubs sprang up to serve the needs of those who came to buy/sell livestock. The smaller pubs alongside the sheep pens were primarily beer-sellers and probably only sold beer at the fairs most of these publicans had other occupations. The larger pubs offered food and rooms, as well as selling beer and spirits. Despite the number of drinking places and the quantities of alcohol consumed, the village was not particularly rowdy relatively few arrests were made for being drunk and disorderly! Although there were a few persistent offenders who regularly ended up in the village lock-up.

A map is available showing the locations of the inns and alehouses, and lists the names used by the pubs (many changed their names over the years).

(click the map to enlarge)

A book is available on the history of the pubs and breweries of both East & West Ilsley, and the people who lived and worked in them. This covers the12 pubs of East Ilsley and the 2 breweries (and single pub) of West Ilsley,.

Did you know, for example, that Morlands brewery started in West Ilsley and that the Swan in East Ilsley was the first pub in what became the Morlands chain (since taken over by Greene King).


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Last modified: 10/21/14