The Lamb Inn and its Landlords

For a more detailed history of The Lamb, click here


The origins of The Lamb Inn, a Grade II Listed building, appear to date from 1780. Our first real knowledge of the inn comes from the 1785 Land Tax records which show that a "new Lamb house" was owned by James Penfold and occupied by Joseph Collick, the land tax for the property being £3. 0s. 0d.

However, the 1780 Land Tax records show that James Penfold occupied "his new house". This implies that The Lamb had been built by 1780 - possibly a year or so beforehand. There is nothing to suggest at present from the building style and materials used that the present building is anything other than late C18. An impressively large Charles II fireback is located in the main fireplace but that is certainly not evidence of age of the building or parts of it as these are easily moved from one property to another.

There seems much evidence that the building has undergone changes and additions over the years but these have not been investigated to date. A number of photos exist of the inn at the end of the C19 and early C20. The frontage has changed relatively little since that time but it is impossible to see from these what changes may have been made at the rear of the property.

During the C19, a room by the archway leading to the stables was used as the village mortuary, and later when the roof over this part of the property was being repaired, a small attic room was discovered which may have been used as primitive overnight accommodation for post-boys and by the grooms who serviced the daily horse-drawn coaches which came into Angmering.

All we have in the way of layout of The Lamb before 1930 are sketches by architect Douglas Wilkinson (grandson of landlord, "Old Wilkie"), who produced these based on his memory of the building when he lived there as a child. There certainly seems to be a considerable number of changes today to the ground floor layout from that which existed 75 years ago.

The Lamb always had competition from the possibly older public house, The Red Lion, across The Square, but The Lamb's facilities were probably better which allowed village organisations and those from further afield to meet and dine in some comfort. It was the upstairs clubrooms that provided this spacious accommodation. New research suggests that The Red Lion may originally have been called The Lamb before the present Lamb was opened (click here to read an article on the evidence for this supposition).

Organisations meeting at The Lamb included the Vestry (pre-1894), Cricket Club, Benefit Society, Silver Band, Angmering Cycling Club, Slate Club, Ancient Order of Foresters, Ecclesden Manor Court Baron, Worthing Excelsior Cycling Club, smoking concerts, and probably many more.

By about 1908, the public house was described as "The Lamb Commercial Hotel" and among its facilities were stabling, hire of carriages and the catering for small and large parties.

Owners and Landlords

Known Owners
1785 James Penfold
1832 Messrs Henty
1836c George Puttock
1839 Osborn & Duke
1861 Osborn & Co
1872 Eagle Brewery Arundel
1880 Messrs Salter
1900c Lambert & Norris
1977 Ind Coope
1987 Friary Meux
c2000 Punch Taverns

Known Landlords (approx dates)
1785 Joseph Collick
1819 Henry Ragless
1832 Charles Newman
1836c John Gates
1841 Zebedee Peskett
1844 Fred Street
1845c Charles Parlett
1850 - 1908 Thomas Wilkinson
1908 - 1941 Ernest Wilkinson
1946 - Albert Victor Dodds

 
Advert - Sale of Inn. 1872

"Eagle Brewery at Arundel with Twenty Two Public and Beer Houses Principally Freehold . Tuesday the 9th day of April 1872 in One Lot"

No 19 The 'Lamb' Public House Angmering.
A large, lofty, substantial, brick built, slated House, containing, Entrance Lobby with Bar, Tap Room, Smoking Room, Parlour, Kitchen and Cellar in the Basement, a large Club Room on the First Floor, behind the house, measuring 78ft x 22ft, with a shifting partition, and 3 Bedrooms, and 3 Bedrooms on the Second Floor, A Yard behind with a Scullery, Dairy with a room over, and a 3 stall Stable and shed at end. In the occupation of Thos. Wilkinson at £14 per annum. Leasehold for a residue of a term originally
granted for 900 years."

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Thomas Wilkinson (1826-1909)

Of all The Lamb's landlords over the years, Thomas Wilkinson, known affectionately as "Old Wilkie" was the best known. Born in Northchapel, Sussex, on 26 March 1926, he must have gained significant experience in the management of inns from his parents, William and Elizabeth (nee Burdock) who were licensees of the Half Moon Inn in Northchapel. In fact, Elizabeth was either the wife of the licensee or the licensee in her own right for an amazing 61 years.

Married firstly to Emma Randall of Walberton, who bore him ten children, Thomas took over as landlord of The Lamb in 1850 and continued as the licensee for nearly 58 years. His second wife was Ann Sheppard of Horsham who bore him a further four children. Thomas died in Angmering on 10 March 1909 as was buried in St Margaret's churchyard.

Thomas was renowned as a jovial man and a person of considerable ability in both in his business and love of sport, and particularly field sports and cricket. He captained Angmering Cricket Club until the age of 61. The quality of the fare provided at The Lamb by Thomas is evidenced in the West Sussex Gazette in the 1860s which mentions this time and time again in its articles. But he was also known for his outside catering; for example, in 1887, he supplied the food for 2000-3000 people attending Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations from Angmering and neighbouring villages.

Probably the best testament of Thomas can be found in the following article written by the West Sussex Gazette in February 1907:

"Old Wilkie" is the form of address familiarly applied to the landlord of The Lamb Inn at Angmering, and it happily indicates the measure of affection felt for one who has been a notable figure in the neighbourhood for so long a series of years. This sturdy son of Sussex has a special claim to notice in these columns at this particular moment, for he has just received the congratulations of the Justices of the Arundel Petty Sessional Division, in Brewster Sessions assembled, on the interesting fact that he has obtained a renewal of the licence of the well-known Angmering hostelry for the fifty-seventh year in succession. Yet this record, remarkable as it is, was beaten by that of his mother, who was for sixty-one years the land-lady of The Half-Moon Inn at Northchapel; so that the two between them can point to a hundred and eighteen years' possession of the Excise privilege of dispensing potent liquors.

Northchapel is where Mr Thomas Wilkinson himself was ushered into the world, this important event taking place on the 26 March, 1826. It does not require much arithmetical skill to show that the landlord of The Lamb Inn is about to celebrate his eighty-first birthday. His association with his present form of business dates from very early days, for he did the brewing at home, and remained at Northchapel until he was twenty-three years of age.

Then came the removal to Angmering in the year 1850. Young as he was, Thomas Wilkinson had already burdened himself with domestic responsibilities, for he then had a wife and four children. Business prospects at Angmering in those days were so gloomy that anything like a long stay in the village would have appeared to Mr Wilkinson a very remote possibility and, if anyone had told him that he would remain there two years, he would not have believed them. And yet, there he is, even after the lapse of more than half a century.

The changes he has witnessed have been necessarily great in number and the flight of time has removed most of the older people whom he knew in his earlier days. All the trades-people of the early fifties have passed away. Old Mr Langley, who was eighty-one last month, and another old resident named Puttock, are two of the oldest who remain. The latter, who came from Kirdford, was originally a hoop-maker by occupation; but politicians have told us of late the causes that have contributed to extinguish that industry from West Sussex.

When Mr Wilkinson came into the Parish, Ham Manor, now the Sussex seat of Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, was occupied by Mr W G K Gratwicke, the well-known sportsman, who undertook the cost of rebuilding a portion of the Parish Church, and who gave his name to the land on which Holy Trinity Church at Worthing stands, occupying the site of what was once known to us as the Gratwicke estate. Mr Gratwicke's butler in those days was the late Mr Esekiel Osborne, a man of venerable appearance, who afterwards proved a model landlord of the Pier Hotel at Worthing.

Though Mr Wilkinson has to deplore the loss of so many of the older inhabitants, there is one who has occupied a prominent position for a long series of years, and that is the Rector, the Rev. J B Orme, who was presented to the living as far back as 1866 and still retains his charge.

The Lamb Inn is a very old house and Mr Wilkinson's immediate pre-decessor there was a Mr Parlett. At first it appeared that it would be impossible for the new tenant to obtain a living, but he persevered and managed by strict devotion to business and honourable dealings to secure prosperity and bring up a large family in a creditable manner.

In other and more leisurely days The Lamb attracted a very large share of chance patronage when the horse played a more important part in our daily operations; but the advent of the cycle, followed by the more recent introduction of the still speedier motor car, has produced a considerable change in this respect. But not to know The Lamb at Angmering is to argue yourself unknown, for the name is a familiar one for many miles around. No fewer than seven local Clubs or various kinds make it their recognised head-quarters, and so well does it preserve its popularity as a centre of social enjoyment that some additions must be made to the accommodation to insure the comfort of those who resort to it for rational entertainment.

As a caterer and one of the old school, liberal and personally anxious to provide a sufficiency and give genuine delight to his patrons, Mr Wilkinson has always been noted. His reputation stood him in good stead during the Jubilee celebrations of 1887, for he made successful provision for two or three thousand guests in the several parishes of Angmering, East Preston, Goring, Ferring and Durrington.

Great have been the changes in the social habits of the people as witnessed by Mr Wilkinson. During his childhood at Northchapel he had scant opportunities for education but such as they were he availed himself of them, walking daily a distance of eleven miles to school, five and half miles each way.

Wages have risen appreciably since, arrived at manhood's estate, he settled down in Angmering, for in those days an agricultural labourer was only able to command the miserable pittance of nine shillings a week. Fruit growing in the neighbourhood now offers a more congenial form of employment, and there is a consequent scarcity of labour in agricultural circles.

As showing the prices that prevailed in those days, Mr Wilkinson tells us that he was able to purchase legs of mutton at sixpence a pound and rounds of beef at five pence. Tea was a very high price for it could never be obtained at less than five shillings a pound; and members of the labouring classes would come round and get the tea leaves from those more favourably situated than themselves.

In the matter of clothing, another great change is to be noticed. The picturesque old smock frocks, many of them most effectively worked, were in general use by farmer and agricultural workers generally; and corduroy, also in universal demand, was then deemed good enough even for "Sunday best". This is, in all ranks, an age of broadcloth and great coats; and as his mental gaze takes him back to the early fifties, this old philosopher declares: "That's the cause of a good deal of the ruination of this country - spending so much on the back".

Cricket, hunting and shooting have been the principal recreations of this well-preserved old Boniface, and it says something for his devotion to his favourite amusements, that he was an active participator in cricket until he was sixty-six years of age. For thirty years he was captain of the village cricket club, and is worthily succeeded by his son, Mr Ernest Wilkinson, who is associated with him in the management of the business of The Lamb. The father was prepared to take any position in the field, though he excelled as long stop and batsman.

His hunting has been done with Crawley and Horsham Foxhounds, the late Lord Leconfield's pack (which used to come down as far as Whiteways), Mr H G Kay's Harriers, and Mr Goff's Foot Harriers. As a marksman, his shooting has been confined to rabbits, and in pursuit of this branch of sport he has had many pleasant meetings with Worthing people in the days that are gone.

This genial old soul, ever apparently happy and always hospitable, who helps his guests to realise to the full "The warmest welcome at an Inn" must withal be accounted a "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" for he has had his full share of domestic afflictions. It is with a laugh that he confesses he is unable to recollect for the moment how many children have gathered at his table though he tells you that six remain to him in his old age. One of his greatest griefs was occasioned by the loss of his son, Sergeant George Wilkinson, a stalwart and popular member of the Arundel Company, who volunteered for service in the War in South Africa, and surrendered his life for the cause of his country.

But as he sits in his chair, puffing his pipe for philosophic clam, "Old Wilkie" seems to be the incarnation of contentment with his lot in life. And that pipe is a real solace, for he says with a smile and yet with emphasis, "I think I should die if I didn't smoke".

His visits to Worthing are less frequent now than they were for with the exception of "Old Jim Town", as he describes him, few of his old friends remain to remind him of departed days. In the old-fashioned spirit of hospitality he comes to the door to say goodbye to his journalistic interviewer. He still preserves a very fair share of physical vigour, in spite of his eighty-one years, though he smilingly complains that his joints crack as he gets about.

But for that, honest "Old Wilkie", the only remedy is the oil of youth, and this you know, is impossible to purchase today.

Shortly after this article was written, Thomas's son, Ernest, took over as The Lamb's landlord, a position he held until his death in 1941. He is also buried in St Margaret's churchyard.

Joseph Collick

Joseph Collick, the first known landlord (1785 - c1815) of The Lamb, was anything but a self-effacing man unlike one of his successors, Thomas Wilkinson (Old Wilkie). The following humorous story is told by Edwin Harris in his 1914 political and history pamphlet:

"Not far in the Nineteenth Century, the host of the Lamb Inn, an individual by no means lacking in self-esteem, named Collett (sic), had a flock of geese on some common land adjoining his Inn.

(This land some years before had been enclosed, but to the annoyance of the wealthy landowner and magistrate who had enclosed it, Collett had stubbornly refused to relinquish his right of user).

One evening, in the course of a sporting argument with a customer, a quiet working man named Henry Redman, Collett in a lofty manner, pooh-poohed the suggestion that a person of his experience and intellect could be "bested" by a person of Redman's calibre. To emphasise his contention, a small wager was ratified to the effect that Redman should be allowed three months in which "to best" the landlord, or forfeit his money, and lose his argument.

As time went on, however, so far from being "bested", the confident landlord completely turned tables on his opponent, and treated him to various unexpected samples of publican wit, each time more galling than the last, amid such loud chorus of admiration that a landlord usually commands. After a particularly exasperating sample, Redman began to cast about in earnest for means of redress, and by and by hit on the following satisfying plan to save both his money and reputation, and recompense himself for a long succession of moral and intellectual damages.

So during the succeeding few weeks, in the course of Redman's scheme, the landlord's fat geese began one by one to mysteriously disappear.

Puzzled and dismayed, he offered 20/-, and later 40/- reward for information of the thief.

On the increase of the award, Redman steps quietly into the bar one evening, and offers, on receipt of money down, to then and there name the culprit.

The money was at once eagerly handed to him, and quietly pocketing the 40/-, to the amazement of the onlookers, and the stupefaction of the unwary landlord, Redman coolly exclaimed: "'Twas me stole them, Collett! I had them one at a time for dinner, and alfired good they was."

And turning to the referee of the wager, he continued, "Now then, you stakeholder, hand over, please."

As can be imagined, it took the breathless Collett some little time to grasp the situation.

By and by, however, when he became cool enough to reflect, he clearly saw that a proper satisfaction, by way of the law was very remote, for, as Redman knew well, in the unfriendly eye of the magistrates, in this case, both himself and the geese were trespassers, and therefore outside the law. So after much chewing of the bitter cud he reluctantly resolved to cut his triple loss.

And for many and many a year afterward, the more or less subtle and cryptic utterances of Collett's clientele, created and amply maintained in his once self-confident breast, a meeker and quieter spirit."

Neil Rogers-Davis,
January 2006

( Page last updated: 6 April 2014)