INNS, PUBLIC HOUSES AND BEER SHOPS
The map above shows the location some of the coaching inns, public houses and beer shops that have offered hospitality to travellers and local people since the sixteenth century. Inns existed in Benson by the 1590s and both the Red Lion and the White Hart were shown on a map drawn in 1638. The coaching trade brought many visitors to the village, some of whom stayed overnight, while others took refreshments, before continuing their journeys to Oxford, London or further afield. The Castle in the centre of the village was opened in the 1720s under the sign of the King's Arms and renamed the Castle by 1770. A list of residents, published in 1863 records the existence of six inns and another six beer retailers, so the villagers were spoilt for choice. Beer shops, often in the front rooms of cottages catered for the servants of travellers and the working men of Benson.
THE WHITE HART
Both the White Hart and the Castle are mentioned in the Road Books of the late eighteenth century — these were the equivalent of the later Bradford’s railway timetables and listed the facilities for coach travellers throughout England. During the coaching era the Shrubb family were the innkeepers of the White Hart. The photograph was taken in the 1960s.
THE CROWN INN
The Crown Inn has been offering a warm welcome to travellers for over three centuries. It once had stables, a skittle alley, wheelwrights' and smiths' workshops. The photograph shows the hotel in Crown Square, taken from Old London Road
THE RED LION INN
The Red Lion Inn on the corner of High Street and Mill Lane was once one of Benson's coaching inns, catering for travellers between Oxford and London. In 1827, it had stabling for sixty horses, with lofts, granary and carriage shed.
The photograph was taken in 2015.
THE CASTLE INN
Situated in Castle Square, this coaching inn was called the King's Arms until about 1770. It operated as a tea room in the days when touring in motor coaches first became popular (see photograph). Later, it was a favourite pub for RAF aircrew in the Second World War. In 1986, the pub was converted to two houses.
THE THREE HORSESHOES
Situated in Oxford Road, next to the White Hart, this cosy 17th century pub was once fully involved in the coaching trade, and had its own stables. It probably catered for the working man, rather than the "carriage folk". The Lane family were landlords until the early 20th century. Later, George Pether was landlord from 1937 to 1952. It is still a popular village pub and eatery. The photograph was taken in 1962.
THE SUN INN
Situated on the corner of Chapel Lane and Watlington Road, this pub was once known as the Eight Bells. James Stacey was the publican in 1939, and his daughter Phyllis married Bill Lane. The pub finally closed in 1999 and was converted to a house. The photograph was taken in the 1960s.
The house in the High Street, which was once the Ship
The Lamb, demolished when RAF Benson was built
The Lamb and Flag, once a pub in Brook Street
The Swan Inn was once near the mill at Preston Crowmarsh and catered for the bargemen from the Thames. It is now a house.
The Horse and Harrow at Rokemarsh has now been converted to a house.