Thought to be the oldest public house in Farncombe and probably one of the oldest in Godalming. For many years the landlord held an annual fair each Easter Monday in an adjoining field with stalls of gingerbread, toys and other amusements such as ‘climbing the pole’, badger baiting and even bare knuckle fighting.
‘The Three Lions’ is almost certainly the oldest public house in Farncombe, the next contender probably being ‘The Duke of Wellington’ in Farncombe Steet, although there is evidence of an earlier establishment called ‘The Rising Sun’, run by an Edward Farley around 1770, but the exact location is not known at this time. This ‘Rising Sun’ is not the same as the public house of that name near the level crossings in Farncombe Street, which closed some years ago and is now used as offices. The ‘Duke of Wellington’ was possibly a beerhouse in 184 (not licensed to sell spirits) but certainly listed as ‘The Duke of Wellington’ from 1851 when Charles Boxall, a young man of twenty seven from Alfold, ran it together with his wife Mary.
A brief history of Farncombe by Clive Downes, 1996
The Three Lions, 55 Meadrow
This public house may have origins dating back to the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. Laurence Lee recorded that on 1st November 1723 ‘about 4 in ye morning dyed with ye smallpox Richard Keen ye sawyer his last place of abode was at ye signe of ye Worlds End in Meadrow’. It is possible that the Worlds End was an earlier sign for the Three Lions but in more recent times the inn has also been known by most local inhabitants as ‘The Scratchers’.
George Edsell was a licensed victualler at the Three Lions from before 1781 and throughout this period the inn was owned by Richard Fenn, who also owned the Row Barge in Bridge Street. Edsell was succeeded by John Richards in 1800 and he in turn was replaced by Edward Mandeville, who was the licensee from 1805 to 1819. ‘Mandeville, Three Lyons’ was amongst a number of Godalming’s licenced victuallers who, in 1808, petitioned against the enforced billeting of troops in their establishments.
Later landlords at the Three Lions included William Moon from 1820 to 1825, when he moved to the Angel in Godalming High Street. Moon was followed by John Mayne, who moved to the Red Lion, Godalming, in about 1827 and was replaced by William Searle. The Land Tax records for 1800 show that the Three Lions was owned at the time by James Fenn, but by 1805 the inn had become the property of the Godalming brewer, John Hall Grinham. Grinham died in 1827 and by 1832 Richard Wells was paying the Land Tax for the Three Lions, whilst in the same year Benjamin Julius Caesar was listed in Pigot’s Directory as the landlord. Richard Wells had become both owner and landlord by 1839.
In 1853 the Three Lions was bought by William Smeed of the Sun Brewery, Bridge Street, Godalming, and following his death by suicide in 1858, the brewery and its tied houses passed to his wife, Emma. She died in 1875 and in 1877 the business was purchased by Alfred Agate of Horsham. It was run by Thomas Baverstock until 1883, when Agate took over in his own name at what became known as the Old Established Sun Brewery. Baverstock, meanwhile, established another Sun Brewery in Fry’s Yard, also in Bridge Street. Landlords during this period included Thomas Arnold in 1840s and 1850s, who then moved to the White Hart in Godalming High Street, Joseph Moul in 1859, John Millum in 1867, Jethro Rollett in 1874 and G.Holden in 1886.
Agate sold his brewery and its tied houses including the Three Lions, to the Guildford brewers, Lascelles Tickner & Co, in 1891. Later licensees at the Three Lions included G.Luff in 1891, F.Collins in 1900 and A.Bicknell, who was at the inn from about 1904 until the 1920s. In 1927 Lascelles Tickner’s tied houses, including the Three Lions, were acquired by the Friary Brewery of Guildford, which became Friary Meux in 1956 and part of Allied Breweries in 1963. This company later became part of Allied-Lyons but the brewery part of the business is now known as Carlsberg-Tetley, a subsidiary of the Danish Lager brewers, Carlsberg.
The Three Lions, however, was acquired by Shepherd Neame, and now sells their fine range of ales from Faversham in Kent, where they have been brewing since 1698.
Godalming and Farncombe Pubs and Breweries by John Janaway