About The Falcon Inn (1500s -1975)

The Falcon is situated to the north of the church, in a prominent position on the approach to the historic core of the mediæval village.

Notes by Terry Garland and Helen Douzier, 2020

The Falcon as a private residence in 2017
Photo by Terry Garland
From the deeds of The Falcon Hotel in 1842
The Falcon Inn dates back to the 1630s. A token exists dated 1683 and it reads John Parker at ye Falcon. Some say it was originally the parsonage house for the church.
Photo: Wivenhoe Memories Collection
The Falcon Hotel in Wivenhoe High Street in the 1970s
Photo: Wivenhoe Memories Collection
The Black Friar in Queen Victoria Street, a traditional pub with Henry Poole's Art Nouveau reliefs reflecting the friary that once stood there. The Halliwell's previously ran this famous pub before coming to Wivenhoe in 1939 to run The Falcon.
Photo: Wikipedia

The Pub Trail Index – click here

The Falcon Inn is 36 High Street, situated to the north of the church, a prominent position on the approach to the historic core of the mediæval village. The visible front of brick to the main façade hides the historic timber framed building at its core, though this is still visible on the south side facing the church and is thought to date from the 15th Century.

The Falcon competes with The Black Buoy for being the oldest recorded pub in Wivenhoe and was for many centuries, along with the church, one of the most important buildings for the general population of Wivenhoe. Most of the meetings of groups and societies, many auctions and legal sittings of bankruptcy took place in the building. The rear was set out with a bowling green, dances were held and, with its location adjacent to the church, wedding celebrations and funeral wakes would have taken place. All this made The Falcon the centre of village life in the 18th and 19th centuries. It became a hotel in the late 19th century but was finally sold off for use as private residences in 1975.

Early ownerships

The earliest recorded ownership of The Falcon is an Indenture of 10 Aug 1786 which formalised bequests in the wills of the Martin family from Matthew Martin, a Captain with the East India Company, who owned the Manor of Alresford and extensive lands in Wivenhoe, Alresford and Elmstead. The Martins were a prominent family in north-east Essex, Matthew in particular; he became a Whig MP in 1722 and Mayor of Colchester in 1726. In 1729 his daughter Mary married Isaac Lemyng Rebow whose family would build Wivenhoe House. The ownership of an Inn in Wivenhoe was not of sufficient significance to generally feature as an individual item in lists of lands owned by the Martins. The name The Falcon would relate to the sport of falconry still popular to the landed gentry in the 1700s.

The lands in Wivenhoe were centred on the mansion that Matthew Martin had built in the early 1700s. The location of this is uncertain due to inaccuracies in a 1929 copy of the 1734 Hayward Rush map of Wivenhoe and the 1777 Chapman and André map. The 1786 document names The Falcon Inn and a location of the Mansion close to the north would seem likely; lands to the north and east of The Falcon were recorded in 1842 as sold to Mr Chamberlain indicating a much larger land holding than now remains.

Matthew Martin (1676-1749) had bequeathed his estate to his sons Samuel (d. 1770) and Thomas (d. 1776) and their male heirs. Samuel had no children, bequeathing the estates to Thomas who had two daughters Mary, married to Isaac Martin Rebow and Sarah, married to William Frazer of Aberdeen. Thomas’s widow Dorothy had remarried Thomas Adams of Alresford.

The Indenture of 1786 was to resolve a dispute between William and Sarah Frazer with Mary Rebow Martin (now widowed) and John and Dorothy Adams with Thomas Adams where John Adams claimed the estates following the death of Isaac Martin Rebow (his step son-in-law) in 1781. The Indenture granted a 500 year lease on the Manor of Alresford, another Hall named The Quarters, eight farms in Alresford or Elmstead, premises in Wivenhoe in possession of Mrs Blyth (nos. 15-17 High Street and Blyth’s Lane), The Ship in Alresford and The Falcon Inn in Wivenhoe to William Frazer in trust for the children of Mary Rebow Martin.

A missing Conveyance must have occurred in 1790s as in 1801 the Inn was sold by John and Dorothy Adams to John Sarjant Lay, son of the previous landlord. Ownership then passed to John Bawtree in 1805 in consideration of £735, and to Thomas Turpin in 1827 for £750. Thomas Turpin appears a profligate landlord as he had various mortgages on the property and in 1832 had sold the Falcon Cottages for £545. This was to no avail and in 1842 he was declared bankrupt with £883.10.0 being due to Thomas Daniell. The meeting of creditors assigned The Falcon to John Stuck Barnes, a Colchester solicitor often involved in property dealings in Wivenhoe.

The Inn now passed to a Robert Turpin, whose relationship to Thomas is not known, and after repayment of further mortgages was sold to John Gurdon Rebow for £1,475 in 1846. Ownership  passed around 1860 to Daniell & Sons, the brewers of West Bergholt. Daniells were taken over in  1958 by Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. (Truman’s) whose sign appears in photographs from the later 20th century.

Landlords (See link to  Landlords of The Falcon for more information)

In Peter Kay’s book “Wivenhoe Pubs” he quotes John Taylor noting John Parker as landlord of The Falcon in 1636, the earliest name we have. By 1765 Thomas Corder was the licensee.

Philip Lay is recorded in Tax papers of 1798 as a tenant of John Adams at The Falcon and in 1801 the property was sold to his son, John Sarjant Lay who became the first owner and licensee.

There is a gap in the records from 1805 to 1827 but a reference in 1827 to the property being earlier in the occupation of William Warner would indicate he was the licensee for part of the gap.

In 1828 Samuel Wade and in 1832 Robert Pitt were licensees and tenants of Thomas Turpin. By 1839 Thomas Turpin had taken over the licence for himself but by 1842 was declared bankrupt. Robert Turpin took over as licensee and owner until the sale in 1846 to John Gurdon Rebow.

There follow two landlords of whom little is known, in 1848 William Fisher and by 1851 John Fisher. By 1855 Abraham Ham had taken over as licensee. The Hams are one of the families who appear regularly as licensees in Wivenhoe and around this time The Falcon became a ‘tied’ house to Daniell & Sons, brewers of West Bergholt.

In the 1861 census the younger brother of Abraham Ham, Nathaniel Rogers Ham appears. Nathaniel is listed as a seaman indicating that his wife Elizabeth was running the Inn while he was at sea. In 1871, 1881 and 1891 he is listed as a publican and mariner.

Three further unknowns follow: Joseph Robinson in 1894, Thomas William Younge in 1899 and Frederick Knapp in 1908.

By 1910 Benjamin Archer Barr, whose family were closely related to others in the licensed trade in Wivenhoe, was licensee and in 1924 his widow Eliza Ann Barr ran the pub for a further four years.

1929 saw Arthur William Southgate as licensee for the difficult times of the 1930s depression followed by William Edward Elliott for the one year 1933-1934, his widow, Millicent Alice Elliot became the licensee until 1940.

Henry Oswald Halliwell came from London in 1939. The Halliwells were a family of London licensed victuallers, Henry having run The Black Friar near St Pauls from 1911 (see picture). In 1945 the licence passed to Henry’s son, Joseph John Halliwell. During the 1950s the shipyards were thriving and many of the Irish shipwrights found lodgings at The Falcon.

Diana Louise Pilgrim in 1956 and Anthony Francis Pollendine in 1966 were recorded as licensees.

In 1968 the licence passed to Tadensz Stefan Motyka, a member of the Polish Free Forces during the War who told improbable stories about his exploits in Italy. Stefan began a vodka smuggling business but he was caught red-handed, arrested and sent to prison.

Final Demise

By the 1970s The Falcon, no longer the centre of village social life, was falling on hard times with decreasing clientele, bad behaviour becoming common and with a landlord now in prison, the brewery wanted to dispose of the Inn. In May 1971 the Urban District Council approved plans by Truman’s to replace it with a shop and retail premises. A petition and pressure on the Council reversed the decision in 1973 and gained listed status for the building. Truman’s gave up on their plans and The Falcon was sold off as private residences in 1975, as it remains to this day.


36 High Street, Church Cottage and Garden House (Falcon Yard), formerly The Falcon public house, Wivenhoe, Essex are listed Grade II. NHLE number: 1225319; First listed: 12 January 1973.

The listing is most extensive running to some two pages, including a section on the history of Wivenhoe, and indicates the importance that Historic England places on this building. A much reduced précis of the listing follows:

The Falcon, is a vernacular house of the C15, C17 and C18, and the former Falcon public house was subdivided in the late-C20. Despite some alterations, the building retains a significant proportion of historic fabric, a well-executed west elevation and C15 and C17 timber framing of high status and good craftsmanship to the south elevation.

The earliest phases comprises a timber-framed house, thought to have C15 ground floor frame topped by a C17 first floor structure, which was re-fronted with a brick range probably in the C18 when the building was recorded as The Falcon public house and is documented as having a warehouse, brewery and a bowling green.

A two storey building of an evolved ‘L’ shape with a rear (north) yard and outbuildings. The facade of the brick range faces the High Street to the west and has a slated catslide roof. The central, two-leaf entrance door on the ground floor has carved detailing under a scrolled stucco hood, flanked on either side by semi-hexagonal bay windows with small-paned sashes. On the first floor are three part sashes with small-panes under key-stoned stucco arches.

The rear range (Church Cottage and Garden House) has a C17 exposed timber frame comprising close-studding and straight bracing, surmounting an early C15 ground storey frame that has an underbuilt jetty. The hipped roof is peg-tiled and has overhanging eaves. The ground floor has three semi-hexagonal bay windows with peg-tiled conoid roofs and modern sashes, two modern pedimented entrance doors centrally and to the right (east) and a door with a pent roof to the left (west). There are four modern sashes to the first floor.

Links to other pages on this website:

General Sources:

  • Butler N, “The Story of Wivenhoe”, Quentin Press Wivenhoe, 1989.
  • Barton D, “Wivenhoe: its attractions, pleasures and eccentric natives”, Dick Barton Enterprises 1975.
  • Essex Church of England Parish Registers. Chelmsford, Essex Record Office.
  • Kay P, “Wivenhoe Pubs”, published by Peter Kay 2003.
  • National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) England & Wales, 1858-1966, 1973-1995.Kew, Public Record Office
  • NHLE:  National Heritage List of England
  • Trade Directories: UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946.
  • Trade Directories: London, General Post Office and Kelly’s Directories 1871 to 1906.
  • The British Newspaper Archive. Dundee & London, Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited & British Library, 2020
  • Property deeds 1748-1887, held by Andrew Wheatley.

The Pub Trail Index – click here

This page was added on 14/09/2020.

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