The property at 57 High Street was used as a public house for about 35 years from about 1847 to 1882. Click here to read about the other history of the property
We are not sure when the property actually became the Beaufort Arms. Local pub historian George Ford says that it was 1852 when George Gunter transferred the licence and the pub name from the Beaufort Arms which had been situated at 67 High Street on the corner of the High Street and Chapel Street. However it was in 1847 when that 67 High Street ceased being an inn and was made into a bakery by new owner James Screen. Two trade directories list ‘George and Mary Ann Gunter‘ as publicans of the Beaufort Arms in 1849 and 1852. In March 1850 a notice appeared in the Bristol Mercury advertising the Beaufort Arms to let and telling people to apply to Mr Geo. Gunter on the premises.
The 1851 census doesn’t help much – it appears to show that the property was occupied by Hester Olive, an unmarried housekeeper aged 46 from Tortworth and a visitor Louisa Bevan a dressmaker aged 18 from Thornbury. The 1851 census shows Mary Ann Gunter and her brother, George Gunter, were both innkeepers at the White Hart on The Plain. A newspaper article dated November 1850 also shows them to be at the White Hart. Click here to read about the Gunters
Thomas Lane – the 1859 Rate Book shows that Thomas Lane was the innkeeper at the Beaufort Arms. Thomas had been the publican at the Crown, further down the High Street, since at least 1839. Thomas died aged 60 and was buried on 4th February 1860. Click here to read more
Robert Luce – the 1861 census and 1862 Rate Book show that Robert Luce was the innkeeper. The census shows Robert was aged 26 and born in Alveston. He was living with his wife, Hannah aged 22 from Tewksbury and their son, Henry R aged 1 born in Henbury and two servants, Ruth Bray a housemaid aged 25 from Frome and Emma Somers a nursemaid aged 11 from Thornbury.
Robert was born in 1835, the son of Job Luce and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Bryant). The 1841 census shows the family living in Grovesend. Job Luce was a farmer. The family included Henry aged 15, Emmeline aged 15, Lancelot aged 12, Charles aged 11, Charlotte aged 9, Robert aged 6, Frances aged 4, Jonathan aged 5 and Edward 1. By 1851 the farm was named as Grovesend Farm of 160 acres employing two men. Robert was aged 15 and still living with his parents.
In 1858 Robert married Hannah Shatford in the Clifton area. Hannah was born in March 1840 in Tewksbury. They must have settled first in Ham, near Berkeley which is where Robert was farming when their daughter, Elizabeth, was baptised on 20th September 1858.
By 1861 they were living in the Beaufort Arms, Thornbury with their son, Henry Robert who was aged 1 born in Henbury. Robert and Hannah had two daughters born whilst Robert was innkeeper at the Beaufort Arms: Hannah baptised on 29th January 1862 (she died aged 4 months and was buried on 10th June 1862) and another Hannah baptised on 20th May 1863 (who died aged 7 months and was buried on 3rd December 1863). Robert and Hannah then appeared to move to Shepperdine where Robert became a farmer. Robert’s brother, Edward, took over the Beaufort Arms (see below). At Shepperdine Robert and Hannah had Edward Luce baptised on 22nd June 1864, Daniel Bryant Luce baptised on 2nd August 1865, Charlotte Iverson? Luce and Maud Eleanor Luce both baptised on 7th April 1869 and Emmeline Frances Luce baptised on 15th May 1870.
The 1871 census shows Robert had moved again. They were now farming at Hill Farm, Itton in Monmouthshire, a farm of 170 acres. They didn’t stay here long as later in 1871 they emigrated to the USA. The 1880 census shows the family farming in Ohio. They had had three more children who were born in Ohio: Florence aged 7, Nellie aged 6 and Karl aged 2.
Edward Luce – the 1867 Rate Book shows that Edward Luce had taken over as publican of the Beaufort Arms from his brother, Robert (see above).
Edward was born in 1840, the son of Job Luce and his wife, Elizabeth who lived at Grovesend Farm. The 1861 census shows Edward still at home. He was now described as being a ‘Farmer’s son and Manager’. In 1863 Edward married Sarah Ann Williams in the Clifton area. They had several children: Don Edward baptised on 18th August 1863, Henry Edward baptised on 3rd August 1864, Nimrod Robert born in March quarter 1866 and baptised on 18th March 1867, Frederick Don baptised on 18th March 1867, Lena Emily Frances born in December quarter 1868 and baptised on 25th August 1872, Percy born in June quarter 1870 and baptised on 25th August 1872, John Edgar baptised on 23rd August 1872 and Charles Forbes baptised on 8th January 1875. Of these children: Don Edward died aged 3 weeks and was buried on 26th August 1863, Don Frederick died aged 1 and was buried on 7th March 1868 and Charles Forbes died aged 4 months and was buried on 2nd May 1875.
We know from the baptism records that Edward was an innkeeper on 18th August 1863 when his son, Don Edward, was baptised. We assume from this that he had taken over the Beaufort Arms, but we note that a newspaper reports that he was still farming at Grovesend in 1865 when he had two geese stolen.
The Bristol Mercury reported on 26th January 1869 that ‘a ball with supper etc on a somewhat extensive scale’ had been held at the Beaufort. It was organised by the landlord, Edward Luce, on behalf of Messrs Wetmore of Clifton following the sale by Edward Luce of the property which had belonged to the late Thomas Osborne Wetmore. ‘The ball etc was a rejoicing at coming into possession and over the excellent sales effected and as a compliment to the solicitors and auctioneer for their very efficient management of the same. The party, consisting of the tradesmen and yeomen of the town and neighbourhood, was large and respectable; the catering of mine host and hostess was in best style, and dancing continued till nearly ‘daylight dawned’. Thus Edward managed to use both his hats (as auctioneer and land agent and as hotel keeper), to profit from the sale of the Wetmore property.
The 1871 census shows Edward Luce at the Beaufort Arms. He was an innkeeper and auctioneer aged 31 born in Alveston. He was living with his wife, Sarah Ann aged 26 from Thornbury and their children: Nimrod Robert aged 5, Lena Emily Francis aged 2 and Percy aged 1.
Edward was still listed as the licensee in the 1876 Rate Book, but in the 1877 Rate Book his name is crossed through and replaced by Charles Browning. We know from a newspaper report of 13th November 1878 when Edward attended an agricultural dinner at Patchway that he had taken over his parent’s place at Grovesend Farm, Alveston.
The 1881 census shows Edward at Grovesend Farm. He was described as an auctioneer and farmer of 184 acres. He and Sarah Ann carried on living there. Edward was joined in his business of auctioneer and land agent by his son, Percy who eventually took over the business. Edward of Grovesend Farm died on 20th September 1907 aged 66 and Sarah Ann died on 3rd September 1919 aged 75. We know that Edward’s son, Edgar John, was born on 31st July 1873 and served in the Merchant Navy. He obtained his Master’s Certificate and was rated as Chief Officer in 1920. Click here to read about the Luces on The Plain
Charles Browning – the 1877 and 1878 Rate Books show Charles had taken over the Beaufort Arms.
Charles was born about 1837 in Bath. He was the son of Charles and Mary Browning who were both teachers. In 1851 they were running a boarding school in which Charles’ two brothers, George and Albert were also teachers. In 1859 Charles married Sarah Frances Eaton in Bath. The 1871 census Charles and Frances were living in Twerton. Charles was a draper aged 33, Frances was aged 33. They had two children: Evelyn aged 8 born in Weston and Alice aged 5 born in Twerton.
We are not sure why Charles came to Thornbury and why he took over the Beaufort Arms. He didn’t stay there long. The 1881 census shows Charles was a retired draper aged 43 born in Bath. He was living at 60 High Street with his wife, Frances aged 41 from Liverpool and their niece, Mary Greenway aged 6 from Hambrook. They appear to be sharing the house with Fanny Wise. Meanwhile the Beaufort Arms was taken over by George Bishop Staley who had just married Charles’s daughter, Florence May. We can’t trace the Brownings after the 1881 census and it is possible that they followed their daughter and husband to the USA (see below). On March 19th 1881 a notice appeared of a sale at the Beaufort Arms of household furniture piano etc ‘of Charles Browning who was leaving the neighbourhood’.
George Bishop Staley – the 1880 Rate Book and the licensee records show that George had taken over the Beaufort Arms.
George was baptised on 2nd April 1858, the son of Robert Etherington Staley, a farmer and his wife, Sarah. They lived at Park Mill Farm, Kington. In December quarter 1879 George married Florence May Browning in the Bath area. Florence was the daughter of the previous landlord of the Beaufort Arms, Charles Browning. The 1881 census shows George B Staley was the innkeeper aged 24 living there with his wife, Florence aged 21 from Bath and their son, John E Staley aged 11 months and servant Ellen Cole aged 14 who was born in Thornbury.
They appear to have two children baptised in Thornbury: John Henry Eaton Staley baptised on 7th May 1880, at which time George was still being shown as a farmer and George Robert Staley baptised on 21st December 1881 when George was shown as being a licensed victualler. In August 1880 there was a newspaper report that the pub had failed to have its licence renewed because the police alleged that irregularities had taken place there. We don’t know what had happened but it doesn’t appear to have closed the pub for long. In February 1882 George applied for a temporary transfer of licence to a Mrs Hember, formerly the licensee at White Horse, Barr Street in Bristol, but the application was deferred subject to suitable references being provided. George had decided to give up the hotel trade after only a year or so and the family sailed from Bristol to New York on SS Dorset in 1882.
The Petty Sessional Court records show that Eliza Hember was granted the license in 1882, in spite of the fact that she had been declared bankrupt in March 1881. There are no further records in later years for the Beaufort Arms so it must have closed.
The 1885 Rate Book shows that the property was then occupied by George Nixon. As George was the headmaster of the Grammar School he was presumably using it as a private house! William Underhill, the carrier was still using the stables at the rear.
In 1887 the property became The Castle Temperance Hotel and Coffee Tavern – click here to read more