The New Inn

new inn-st marys house

The photograph shows the New Inn after it had taken on its more sedate name and role as St.Mary's House, and is thought to date from some time around the 1928 to 1933 period.

The New Inn is shown in the Post Office Directory for Walton businesses dated 1855 with William Cotterell as the innkeeper. He was followed by George Woodruff in the 1861 census and the 1862 local directory. Henry Cooke is shown in the directory for 1867. It appears in the census of 1871 as "The New Inn Public House" with Thomas Arthur Holmes (38 - Widower) as Publican.

The 1881 census shows the premises as "The New Hotel" with 68 year old Jessie Holloway (listed as 'John Holloway' in the Post Office Directory of 1878) and his wife Elizabeth (56) at the helm. Jessie is shown as "Licensed Victualler" rather than "Publican" of ten years previously but we are not sure if this reflects a difference in the license issued or is purely semantic - does anybody know if there is a difference?

In the 1891 census the premises are shown as uninhabited and thus Oatlands had lost one of its 'watering holes' - probably (as far as the records show at present) the earliest 'named pub' in the village, as it never appears again in this guise within a census.

The location of The New Inn is confirmed by the 1894 1:2500 scale Ordnance Survey map for Oatlands  as being on the Walton on Thames side of the Victoria Road junction with Oatlands Drive. This map also confirms that there was a road running all the way between Victoria Road and what is now Oatlands Avenue – the two running parallel at the Victoria Road end and, seemingly having a fence between them, although this line could represent some form of division in land ownership rather than a physical barrier.

Parish records reveal that the New Hotel was a popular stopping place for parties returning to London and that the revelry of these was proving a little too much for the sensibilities of various “ladies of the parish”. One of the neighbours in particular, Mrs Silver who owned Beechcroft, was vocal in objecting to “the proceedings at the Inn which disturb the peace and decorum of the neighbourhood”. She acquired the building and transferred its licence to the Ashley Park Hotel opposite Walton Station.

The parish records also show that there was a long-standing need to provide a permanent home for the vicar – at that time the post was occupied by the Rev.John.H.Townsend. A “Permanent Vicarage Fund” had been started in February 1889 and after 12 months held a total of £77 which had been collected by means of fund-raising events and appeals for donations. The next five years only managed to add a further twenty six pounds to this fund so that, by 1895 there was a lowly £103 in the kitty.

As a solution to the vicar’s housing problem, Mrs Silver sold the firmer pub to Rev.Townsend and thereby, we would assume, ended forever her problem with “… the riotous and indecorous behaviour...”. With the vicar and his family now housed, the burden to provide a vicarage as a matter of urgency was removed and the parish was able to concentrate its efforts in other directions leaving the “Permanent Vicarage Fund” more or less dormant until the Rev.Townsend’s death in 1915.

The spacious cellars of the former inn proved invaluable many years later when they were used as the local ARP Warden’s Post and as a shelter and temporary base for those who lost their homes in the bombing of Oatlands during WWII.

In his book "Inns and Taverns of Walton & Weybridge", the late Tony Martin says: "The Inn appears to have been called the Victoria at some time." - but, tantalisingly, leaves us to find out when this may have been. We can find only one reference to this name, in a "persinal recollection" - and, sadly, these can never be regarded as wholely reliable without other supporting evidence.

The property was demolished in 1965 and the site is now occupied by flats.


 For an update to this article as a result of the latest research, see here (replaces this article).