The George bygone – December

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Last month we reported that The George had been sold by the Stonham Brewery when the brewery closed down in 1866. It is not certain when the brewery acquired the pub, but it had been previously put up for auction in December 1838, when the Woodbridge Brewery (in Stone Street, which is now Church Street) and its pub estate were sold following the death of its owner, Samuel Alexander,  in May of that year. The results of the sale were reported in Suffolk Chronicle on December 8th.

Alexander was a member of a prominent family of ship owners in the corn and iron trades who had also opened a bank, Alexander & Co., in 1744 at Needham Market. The Ipswich branch became the Head Office in 1804. Samuel had been an Alderman of Ipswich and Commissioner on the Ipswich Pilot Commission and, when his body was taken to Needham Market for burial in The Friends Burial Ground, the Suffolk Chronicle reported that, his “… hearse was preceded by about 80 gentlemen of Ipswich, headed by the Mayor and Magistrates, who walked two and two from the churchyard of St. Mary Stoke, through St. Peter’s, St. Nicholas’ and St. Matthew’s Street until they arrived at the extremity of the town, when they filed off on each side of the road so as form an avenue …”.

The Alexanders, like many important commercial families were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and Elizabeth Fry, the Quaker prisoner reformer (who until recently featured on the back of the £5 note), actually spoke at his funeral. The Quakers although much concerned with the scourge of cheap spirits considered brewing ale as an acceptable trade.

The George, described as, “an excellent road-side house” was, at the time, being rented to Mrs Sarah Good for £12 a year. It was bought by a “Mr S. Piggens”. The £700 paid was much more than the £350 the inn sold for nearly thirty years later, but is likely that the other buildings and land which traditionally had formed part of the property had been sold separately in the intervening period. The most likely candidate for the new owner was Stephen Piggins Jnr., originally from Wisbech, who ran a brewery in Regent Street, Cambridge and who, as advertised that May, lived and had an outlet for his products in Brook Street, Ipswich.

Sarah Good, tenant landlady since – at least – 1828 remained until the following year, when at the age of 77 she retired to Woodbridge, dying in 1842.

If you have any historical facts, memories, photographs of The George, characters associated with the pub or groups that used it you wish to share, contact us by e-mail at heritage.wmgeorge@btconnect.com.