About The Beehive c.1848-1910

In Rectory Road, at The Cross

Michael Smither

The Beehive, now a private home
Photo: 2020

The Pub Trail Index – click here

The Beehive was one of the earliest of the Wivenhoe beerhouses and one of the few to open in an existing building.  As the only beerhouse located at Wivenhoe Cross it would have benefitted from the closure of The Horse and Groom for much of the 1870s, but would be one of the many to be closed in Edwardian times.

The Building

The Beehive is situated at Wivenhoe Cross, at the top of Rectory Road, directly opposite The Horse and Groom.  It was one of four beerhouses to open in an existing building and also one of the earliest. The first reference to it being in an 1848 trade directory1. This trade directory lists two other beer- houses which are thought to be The Lion and The Shipwrights which are known to have opened that year.  Most of the other Wivenhoe beerhouses would arrive in the early 1860s during the expansion at the time of the arrival of the railway.

The building itself is 18th century, timber framed with brick-built chimneys at either end, weather-board cladding and a peg-tiled roof.  The lean-to at the southern end is a later addition, presumably when the property was divided in two and the conservatory to the north is a 20th century addition.

The Dowsetts (1848-1869)

The first licensee of The Beehive was Joseph Ames Dowsett (1804-1854), who was a butcher by trade, born in Thorrington; but, as with so many of the Wivenhoe beerhouses we need to focus on the lady of the house rather than the landlord.  Maria Cole and Joseph Dowsett were married at St. Mary’s church Wivenhoe on Wednesday 15 September 18412.  Maria was a widow and Joseph a widower and Maria was some 19 years older than Joseph. Her first marriage had been in 1805 and her eldest son was older than her second husband but despite this she would still outlive Joseph by 15 years.

The often violent nature of early Victorian society is clearly illustrated in the following news article that appeared in a number of papers in February 1852:

Daring Highway Robbery. —On Saturday night, as a man named John Copsey, shoemaker and marine-store dealer, of Cistern-court, Colchester, was returning home from Brightlingsea with a horse and cart, he called for some refreshment at Mr. Dowsett’s beer house, at Wivenhoe, which he left quite sober at nine o’clock ; about ten minutes after, whilst walking by the side of his pony down Wivenhoe-hill, two men pulled him down from behind, one of whom laid himself over his face, whilst the other rifled his pockets of a purse containing 21. 13s. 6d. Having done this, one of them in gruff voice said, “Let’s kill him;” but his companion more mercifully replied, ” No, let him go.” The ruffians, however, did not decamp till they had kicked their victim violently in the back and groin, and left him nearly insensible. On recovering himself, the unfortunate man discovered that his coat was completely rent from his back, and clothes very much torn and covered with mire by the ruffians in their endeavours to find his money.”

Joseph passed away at the age of 50 and was buried at St. Mary’s church on 8 January 1854.  Maria continued to run The Beehive following Joseph’s death, until she passed away, aged 84, in 18693.

The Catts (1869-1889)

The Beehive now passed to Hephzibah Catt, Maria’s youngest daughter by her first marriage.  Samuel Catt and Hephzibah Cole had married at St. Mary’s church on 3 November 18474.  Samuel was a blacksmith by trade so he would have been primarily employed at the blacksmith’s forge over the road whilst Hephzibah attended to the beerhouse.  Samuel would not have been unfamiliar with the pub trade, as he spent his early years growing up in one. His father had been the landlord of The Horse and Groom in the early 1820s, a role that his own son would take over in 1893.

Samuel passed away on 15 August 1886. He died intestate and administration was granted to his son Samuel Edmund Catt, who was also a blacksmith. The estate was valued at £205.  It may well be that Hephzibah continued as landlady in her own right following Samuel’s death but The Beehive was then advertised to let in August 18896, so it seems likely that this is when Hephzibah, now aged 62, retired.

Arthur Holland (1889-c.1894)

Arthur Holland was the first landlord of The Beehive not related to Joseph Dowsett. It’s probable that he took over as tenant landlord in 1889 although he is not recorded as such until the 1891 census7.  Arthur was originally from Kensworth in Bedfordshire, but had previously lived in Colchester where he married Louisa Hubbard in 1876.  Arthur’s time at The Beehive was fairly brief and he had already left by the time the next trade directory was published in 1894. By 1911 he was working as a groom for a Colchester based Mineral Water Company.

William Charles Hadley (1894-1908)

William Charles Hadley was first recorded as landlord in 1894 and would run The Beehive until 1908 before retiring. He was listed as an invalid on the 1911 census8 and would end his days in the Stanway Union Workhouse9; being a beerhouse keeper in Wivenhoe was clearly not a particularly lucrative trade.  In 1897 William was fined £1 with 9s 6d costs for keeping his house open during prohibited hours. William Wood and James Wood who had been on the premises at the time were each fined 5s10.

William Coleman Smith (1909-1910)

The final landlord of The Beehive was William Coleman Smith who was born circa 1853 at Blythborough, Suffolk.  William had previously worked as a prison warder in Colchester, presumably at the military prison11.  William’s tenure at The Beehive was brief, he had previously been landlord of The Sailors Return and received £27 10s compensation when it was closed in 190912. He would also be the final landlord of The Beehive.  The Colchester Brewing Company received £475 in compensation and William himself £4213.

Sales at The Beehive had no doubt been hit by the closure of the rope works in 1899 and Barrell’s Timber Yard, who were the other large employer for the area, were almost certainly in decline by this time. The timber yard would be destroyed by fire in 1922.

The Property was sold by the Colchester Brewing Company in 1917 for £150 and the building reverted to its former role as a domestic dwelling14. The only reminder of its time as a beerhouse being in the name, Beehive Cottage.



  1. Whites Directory, 1848.
  2. Wivenhoe, St. Mary the Virgin parish register, marriages, 15 Sep 1841.
  3. GRO Death Index Sep 1869, Lexden, Vol 4a page 203
  4. Wivenhoe, St. Mary the Virgin parish register.
  5. England & Wales National Probate Calendar, 1886
  6. To be confirmed
  7. 1891 Census, PRO Ref: RG12/1413/43
  8. 1911 Census, PRO Ref:
  9. GRO Death Index Mar 1916, Lexden Vol 4a Page 934
  10. Chelmsford Chronicle – Friday 30 April 1897
  11. 1901 Census, PRO Ref RG13/1705/117
  12. East Anglian Daily Times – Saturday 09 October 1909 p.6 col. b
  13. Essex Newsman Sat 8th Oct 1910 p.2 col. d
  14. Wivenhoe Pubs, Peter Kay 2003 p.13
This page was added on 14/09/2020.

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