Vine Tree, Prestbury

The Vine Tree was a pub in Mill Street, Prestbury for about eighty years, from the 1860s to the 1940s, and is now a private house known as Vine Tree Cottage.

From 1871 to 1891 the landlord was William Pitman, our half 2xgreat great-uncle (son of William and Sarah Pitman). William was a tenant, not the owner of the Vine Tree, and in 1882, around the middle of his time there, the Vine Tree was advertised for sale by auction, and described as “a substantially-erected stone-built dwelling house” with “drink house, stable, piggery and walled-in garden”. In the same auction lot was the adjacent Farm Cottage, which was occupied by William Pitman senior (William’s father and our 3xgreat grandfather). As landlord, William inevitably featured in various items in the local press, in one of which he was described as “an honest, industrious, and perservering man”: this did not save him from being fined for “permitting drunkenness on his licensed premises”.

The Vine Tree, early 20th century
(as reproduced in the Gloucestershire Echo)

After William Pitman left in 1891, the licence changed hands several times before being taken over in 1895 by George Henry Miles, William’s nephew (son of his sister Jane), who was landlord for eleven years before filing for bankruptcy. At the hearing in 1906, he stated that his beer sales averaged 36 gallons (i.e. 288 pints) per week. Apparently pig-dealing had previously helped him carry on with the pub despite poor trade, but “losses with pigs” had compounded his problems.

Sometime between 1906 and 1911, Frieke Thorn (not related to the Pitman family) took over the licence of the Vine Tree Inn, and remained there until the end of 1945. As the longest serving landlord, and the only one within living memory, his is the name most commonly associated with the Vine Tree, and it is thought to be his wife Rose who is shown in the earliest photograph of the pub which we have been able to find.

Drinkers outside the Vine Tree in 1936
(courtesy Martin Edwards and Vic Cole)

Link with a champion

Fred Archer
(Gloucestershire Echo, 7 November 1946)

One point of interest is that apparently the property was previously known as Cintra House, and there was certainly a house of this name in approximately the correct position (in Mill Street close to its junction with Burgage Street) in the 1861 census. At that time it was occupied by 34 year-old William Archer, a Grand National winning jockey, and his family, although his son Frederick just 4 years old was staying at the Kings Arms in Prestbury, owned by his maternal grandparents. It was Frederick who would go on to achieve fame as the jockey Fred Archer, and an article in the Gloucestershire Echo in November 1946, sixty years after his death writes of Fred’s early years in Prestbury and states “the family moved to Prestbury, to Cintra House, now the Vine Tree Inn, The Burgage”.