The Catherine Wheel pub was, up until the 1980s, the premier pub in Shrewton. The Catherine Wheel site consisted of the main pub building with its distinctive L shaped frontage incorporating the veranda – from which lovely baskets of flowers dangled each year – and some additional buildings behind, notably the “coach house”. The coach house was located at the rear of the main car park. The upstairs part of this was sometimes used as a function room and Shrewton Silver Band are known to have used this room for band practice sessions up until at least the 1940s. The ground floor of the coach house was latterly used as a garage, and presumably – given the name of the building – at some stage in the past, the building held coaches of visitors to the inn and their horses too.
A few years ago, Dennis Compton came across an old auction sheet for the Catherine Wheel, dated 13th May 1890, [image no longer available] and he has kindly contributed it to the Shrewton Archive. Among other things, this document tells us that the pub then belonged to Joseph Goddard Parsons who had died in 1886. The pub was being sold at the order of Mr Justice Stirling of the Chancery division in London. Could this mean that Joseph Parsons had died without leaving a will, or perhaps had died a bankrupt? The reference to “Parsons vs Parsons” may point to a disputed legacy between heirs? In any case, by 1890 the court had instructed John Wooley of Salisbury (very likely a forerunner of the current Salisbury auction house Wooley and Wallace – established 1884) to auction the property – no, sorry, we have not been able to find out how much the buyer paid! We believe that Joseph Parsons was – at the time of his death – patriarch of the Parsons family who kept the farm on land behind The Catherine Wheel site – what is now Parsons Green. The whitewashed house site at the right of the entrance to Parsons Green was – in Joseph’s day – the farmhouse. So, the large car park that is evident in the 1999 pictures was partly created by clearing a small row of houses that stood there – probably up until the 1930s(?). Shrewton old-timer Geoff Young was born in one of these cottages. Geoff now lives in Salisbury, but for many years he ran Young’s Transport from the site in Tanners Lane on which “The Butts” now stands. When the houses adjacent to the Catherine Wheel were demolished (we think in the 1930s), their place was taken by a larger car park and around about this time the village got a part-time branch of Lloyds Bank (Yes, before widespread car ownership, some villages used to have their very own bank branches!). First of all, this bank was set up in an add-on to one of the houses behind the Catherine Wheel site. Then, probably in the 1940s, the bank was relocated into a new square structure that stood almost opposite the Roundhouse. From this building, the bank operated on an ever more part time basis until the late 1980s when it was closed down completely. Presently, in the 1990s it reopened as a bric-a-brac and antiques shop – the pictures showing this in operation in August & November 1999 respectively.
Throughout most of the 20th Century, the Catherine Wheel was at the centre of village life in one way or another. Our next picture shows it in full glory in the 1970s. Older readers will recognise the Watney’s Red Barrel symbol hanging over the pub sign.
Can you add to the story of The Catherine Wheel? Do you have any old pictures to share? If so send your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Dudman April, 2016