No. 29 High Street – the Bell & Crown / Lush

(The Bell and Crown was No 111 High Street before the numbering changed)

The rear showing old stonework

The Bell and Crown public house was built of stone in the 17th century and some original walling survives at the rear. There is believed to have been a Bell Inn on this site before the existing building was built. It was largely rebuilt in brick in the 18th and 19th centuries. The south part is faced in header bond brickwork.

The first piece of official information about the Bell and Crown was in 1825 when the building was newly rebuilt:

 No 2 PUBLIC HOUSE,  May 1825.

TO be SOLD by PRIVATE CONTRACT, with immediate possession if required, – All that newly-built brick PUBLIC HOUSE or INN, called the BELL and CROWN, with the appurtenances, desirably situated in the High-street of the town and county of Poole; also Two Messuages or Dwelling-Houses, with their appurtenances, adjoining the above mentioned premises, and extending from east to west, fronting the High-street, forty feet or thereabouts- The above premises will be sold together, and are freehold of inheritance.

For particulars apply at the Office of Mr.Foot, Poole. 9.

In 1830 Joseph Davis was Landlord, however by 1842 Absolem Cole was the Landlord. Absolem was a local man and was the son of Absolem Cole (senior) who was a block and pump maker further down the High Street in the direction of the quay. By 1848 James Hodgett was landlord but 3 years later he had been replaced by John Harden West. Mr West had previously been a beer retailer in Hill Street and 36 years before was born in Beaulieu, Hampshire. He and his wife Sarah had four daughters between the ages of 4 and 13, they also had a servant called Sophia, a local Poole girl.

Seven years later the West family had left, to be replaced by John White who was to stay at the Bell and Crown for the next 20 years. John was born in Middlesex, London, his wife, Jemima came from Wimborne. John and Jemima had one son, Edwin who was a draper’s assistant at the age of 15. John was a carpenter as well as innkeeper which would have brought the family a little extra income.

In 1865 there was an incident at the pub when a man named John Williams who was a master mariner, a local man, set fire to a bed. He left the building along with his two children having told Mrs. White what he had done. Fortunately the fire brigade was able to put the fire out, and later in the day Mr. Williams was arrested when Mrs. White saw him nearby and he was charged with arson!

In the Poole and Dorset Herald 17th December 1874, Mr. White was fined 5 shillings for selling beer on a Sunday at 12 noon:


Mr. John White, landlord of the Bell and Crown Inn, High Street, was summoned by Superintendent Hunt for selling beer at 12 o’clock at noon on Sunday last. From the evidence of Sergeant Beaken it appeared that at the time mentioned he saw a man named Butcher come out of Bell Lane. He attempted to conceal something under his coat, but the sergeant saw it was a bottle. Butcher told him it contained a drop of beer which he had brought from his sister’s house. Beaken told him he had better accompany him to the Police-Station, and he did so. He there told the Superintendent that the bottle contained a pint and a half of ale, which he had bought of the defendant. The Sergeant and Butcher then went to The Bell and Crown, and the latter said the defendant served him with the ale. Defendant said it was all right. Butcher corroborated the officer’s evidence. The Superintendent told the magistrates that defendant was a very respectable man and kept his house in a proper manner. He had never been summoned before, so far as he (Mr. Hunt) could remember.

The magistrates imposed a fine of 5s. and costs, altogether 15s. 6d. – Defendant, in paying the money, wanted to know where the 10s 6d. went, but the Magistrates’ Clerk did not satisfy his curiosity.

On 10th August 1876   the local paper reported TRANSFER OF LICENCES. The license of the Bell and Crown, High street, was transferred from Mr. John White to Mr. George Orchard.

In the 1881 census we find Charles Phillips as the new landlord. Born in Affpuddle, Dorset, Charles was married to Elizabeth Phillips, who came from Wool, Dorset. They had four children, the first, Jane had been born in Hurstpierpoint in Sussex 18 years before but the other three were born in Harewood in Yorkshire so we see that the family had moved from Dorset to Sussex to Yorkshire and back to Dorset again. Before taking on the Bell and Crown Charles had been innkeeper at the Rising Sun further down the High Street. Jane worked at the bar for her father.

The building today

There was an interesting case at Dorset Assizes in 1885 when Mr. Phillips was accused by Alderman Norton of allowing “persons of bad character and depraved morals to use his house” as described in the article below from the Poole and Dorset Herald 16th July 1885:


An action in which the public took a very great interest was set down for hearing at the Dorset Assizes on Saturday last. The case was one of slander, the plaintiff being Charles Phillips, landlord of the Bell and Crown Inn, Poole, and the defendant was Alderman John Joseph Norton. The plaintiff, in his statement of claim, stated that on December 18th, the defendant falsely and maliciously spoke and published of the plaintiff at a meeting of the Watch Committee of Poole, in relation to his trade, a certain statement meaning that the plaintiff did not carry on his business in a lawful manner, and that he allowed persons of bad character and depraved morals to use his house. The statement in question is unfit for publication, and alleged that gross misconduct took place at the plaintiff’s house. The damages were laid at £500, the plaintiff stating that he had been injured in his credit and reputation as the Innkeeper.

The statement of defence set forth that if the words alleged to have been spoken by him were really uttered they were spoken without malice and with the bona fide  and honest intention of bringing the matters to which they referred to the notice of the borough officials for investigation, and with the bona fide belief that such investigation was necessary and proper and in the interests of public order and morality, and, further, that the occasion was privileged.

A large number of witnesses and interested persons left Poole by the early morning train on Saturday. The witnesses subpoenaed by the plaintiff, including the Mayor (Mr. W. Mate), Aldermen G. Curtis and F. Styring; the Town Clerk (Mr H. W. Dickinson), the Acting Clerk to the Magistrates (Mr. A. A. Allen), the Superintendent of the Police (Mr. Hunt), the editors of the Poole Herald and another local paper, and Buxton, one of the private enquiry officers, who will be remembered in connection with the recent licensing prosecutions. Several of these witnesses were also subpoenaed for the defence, as well as Alderman J. Buckley. There was only one judge present on Saturday, namely Mr. Justice Field, and he had to take the criminal and civil business. There were two prisoners for trial, but each case occupied a considerable time, and it was after three o’clock when the civil cases were called on. Up to this time the various witnesses and others fully expected that the case of Phillips v Norton would be fully gone into, and they were prepared for a long stay at Dorchester. Mr. Collins, Q.C., and Mr. V. F. Budge, instructed by Mr. P. E. L. Budge, appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Foote, instructed by Messrs. Trevanion and Curtis, for the defence. Immediately the trial of the prisoners was concluded.

Mr. Collins, Q.C., addressed the Judge as follows; May I mention to your Lordship the case of Phillips versus Norton? It is a question of slander, Mr. Phillips is the landlord of the Bell and Crown Inn, at Poole, and brings this action against Mr. Norton, and Alderman of the town and county and borough. The slander was uttered by Mr. Norton at a meeting of the Watch Committee of which he was not a member, and undoubtedly the statement reflected very seriously upon the conduct of the plaintiff’s house. My learned friend Mr. Foote appears for the defendant, and Mr. Budge and myself appear for the plaintiff. Mr. Norton, I am told, is willing to withdraw any allegations of the truth of that statement; he made it upon the information of others, and now he withdraws it, and in order to put the plaintiff in the same position as he was before that statement was made, he consents to pay the taxed costs in this action. I am willing to do that, and with your Lordship’s permission will withdraw the case.

Mr. Foote; I desire to state that Mr. Norton made the statement at a private meeting of the Watch Committee, from a bona fide motive, believing that such a statement was true and in the interests of morality, and, moreover, he made it in the hope that it would induce a more careful supervision by the police of the licensed houses in the town of Poole. Mr. Norton still thinks he was right in making the statement on the information he then had, but as the plaintiff denies that statement, and as he alleges that he had been injured by it, and as Mr. Norton does not desire to injure the plaintiff or any other man by a statement cannot be proved, he has instructed me to say that he withdraws any allegation of the truth of the statement as far  as the plaintiff and his house are concerned. These are the words he instructed me to use, in order to put the plaintiff in a position as if these words were withdrawn as soon as complained of, and not as if they had never been made, he is willing to pay the plaintiff’s taxed costs in this action. I may add that Mr. Norton, by my request, sits by me in order to show it is with his full consent I make this statement, and though he is guided by my advice, he makes this statement of his own free will.

 His Lordship said; I am very glad indeed to hear the statements made by both by Mr. Collins and Mr. Foote.  We are liable, in the performance of what we believe to be our public duty, to make mistakes, and I am quite willing to believe that Mr. Norton has said what he thought it was his duty to say, and what he believed was true. We are all liable, on occasion, to act on mis-information and as soon as a man finds that out, his business as a man as well as a gentleman, is at once to withdraw it, and the best proof a man can give of having made a statement honestly and bona fide is, as soon as he finds the statement is one he has not the means of proving, and calculated to do injury to a fellow citizen, to withdraw it in the way Mr. Norton has now done. I agree to the action being withdrawn and the terms agreed upon.

These statements took almost everybody in Court by surprise, though not a few of the witnesses and others expressed relief at the close of the case. All the parties interested left the Court immediately, but in a few minutes’ time one of the special jurymen, who were summoned specially to try the case, applied to his Lordship for costs.

His Lordship thought this was a reasonable application and commended it to Mr. Budge (Mr. Collins, Q.C., had left the Court) and Mr. Foote. The first named said he could do nothing in the absence of his learned leader, and Mr. Foote said his client had left the Court and he could not make any promise.

His Lordship said these twelve gentlemen of the jury apparently deserved consideration.

A remark was made that there were twenty- four special jurymen summoned.

This evidently surprised his lordship, who at once expressed an opinion that he could do nothing for them. It was one of the inconveniences attending the jury system, and, he added “You do it for the benefit of your country, and that, I am sure, will be quite sufficient remuneration for you“ (laughter). 

Charles Phillips’ two youngest sons grew up to become a butchers assistant and the other a pupil teacher, both locally.

In 1891 on the night of the census there were 6 boarders staying in the building so it seems the pub was a thriving business.

By 1894 Mr. Phillips had left the Bell and Crown to be replaced by Herbert Edward Wills, until 1899 when Austin and Julia Munley moved in and took on the license. They were in residence for the next four years at least. Austin and Julia had three children between one and seven years old, they also had Austin’s mother, Jayne living with them. Austin was a Dorset man, from Cerne Abbas.

After this time there were various landlords and in 1910 the first Landlady, Mrs Olive Dibben. In living memory (not mine!) Richard Whittle and D.W.T. Dade are listed in the directories. When eventually the pub closed down in 1973. It was reopened as ‘Cosmetics to Go’, a local firm which is now known as ‘Lush’

Lyn Hunt


1895 Post Office Directory; Herbert Edward Wills.

1901 census:

Austin E Munley, head of the house, married, age 36, Hotel Keeper, own account, working at home, born Cerne Abbas, Dorset.

Julia Munley, wife of the above, age 36, born  Southampton, Hants.

1 – Florence E Munley, daughter of Austin and Julia, age 7, born Bournemouth, Hants.

2 – Maud Alice Munley, daughter of Austin and Julia, age 4, born Poole, Dorset.

3 – Frederick Munley, son of Austin and Julia, age 1, born Poole, Dorset.

Jane S Munley, Mother of Austin Munley, Widow, age 65, Living on own means, born Chilfrome, Dorset.

Austin Munley died on May 8th 1906 and left his wife, Julia all his effects, £130 17s.

1910 Post Office Directory; Mrs Olive Dibben.

1911 Post Office Directory; George Hayter

1915 Post Office Directory; Mrs Olive Dibben.

1923 Directory; Mrs. Olive Dibben. PH

Burdett. Henry. Haulage Contractor.

1927 – 1955 Directories:  Bell and Crown PH.  Richd. Whittle. ( In 1937 Miss Margt Whittle was teaching the Pianoforte from the Bell and Crown )

1957 Directory;  Bell and Crown P.H.  D.W.T. Dade

1961 – 1973 Directories;  Bell and Crown PH… (No name supplied)

2011 – Lush.  Cosmetic shop.


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2 Responses to No. 29 High Street – the Bell & Crown / Lush

  1. Andrew Hawkes says:

    Alderman Norton led a campaign against the towns licensed premises accusing them of all manner of breached in licensing law much of this may have been untrue information, which he obtained from a crooked private detective, he had employed who was later jailed for perjury.

  2. Lenora England says:

    My Grandmother Betty Dickie/ Woodrow ne James who was born in Poole lived in the cottage next door to the Bell and Crown from the 40’s until her death in the 1960’s. I remember her talking about the Dibbens and The Whittles. I believe at some point in the twenties she worked there. My Mother and my Grandmother spent many an evening in the Bell and Crown.

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