It seems the Horns was in existence by the early 17th Century as a document of 1623 refers to Robert Eccleshall paying rental of £2 5s for the Horns meadow1. Then a Poor Levy list of 1735: “Michael Boycot & Robt Belsher for Ho(w)nes - 0s 11d”. (The original clerk wrote “Hones” and a different hand inserted “w” above.) 2. In 1768 Richard Bradbury was publican at the Horns when he wrote his will leaving everything to his wife Barbary3.The parish overseers are often recorded as adjourning their vestry meetings to, or holding them at, the Horns inn from 1786 onwards4.In an 1818 directory, Joseph Bullock (from Church Aston) was listed as victualler at the Horns – he had been shown as a victualler since at least 18135. However, he was imprisoned at Stafford for debt in January 1818.The next known licensee was John Cotton who continued there until his death in 1848. John Cotton was well up in Gnosall society, often being listed with the gentry and major landowners in public declarations, and he actually owned the Horns. During his time, the inn was a popular site for timber and property auctions6 and the usual venue for the annual meeting of the Gnosall Association for the Prosecution of Felons, of which he was a member from the early 1820s. They were still meeting there in the 1860s.During the celebrations of Queen Victoria’s coronation in July 1838, Mrs Cotton provided “an excellent dinner, in the best style” for “a large party of gentlemen” at 3pm at the Horns, which was followed by “songs of loyalty, etc” and then the ladies joined them for dancing which went on until sunrise.Ten years later on 7th July 1848, John Cotton died, aged 55, and his widow Mary Cotton took over. She was shown on the 1851 census as being there with two daughters, a grandson, a nephew and a nieceIn December 1852, the Horns was an enrolment centre for the King’s Own Staffordshire Militia7.In 1856 and 18608 it was the venue for the court to revise the list of voters in Gnosall, and again in 1867; and through the late 1850s and the 1860s it was the Gnosall venue for checking weights and measures9. In 1856 the Horns was advertised to let: “that old established public house, with brewhouse, stables, yard, etc. and spacious garden … Satisfactory reasons for the present occupier leaving can be given.”10 Presumably Mary Cotton, now aged 74, had retired. She died in Wolverhampton on 10 Jan. 1858 aged 76 at her son-in-law’s house11 and was buried in Gnosall on 15 Jan. 1858.From December 1856 major property auctions at the Horns resumed and continued through the 1860s.In May 1857 the celebrations of coming of age of the Aqualate heir T. F. Boughey (largely organised by Gnosall butcher William Gosnell) included a dinner and a ball at the Horns (and tea-drinking for females at the Duke’s Head)12. The name of the licensee is not given.The Horns seems to be missing from the 1861 census (which has two large gaps), but in 1862 a report of a dinner for the charity trustees gave Mrs Machin as the landlady13. She was probably Jane, the wife of George Machin. In 1863 butcher William Gosnell and cement manufacturer Henry Newton organised a Grand Rural Fete for the village with Old English Sports and Rustic Games: entries for the races were to be made at the Horns, as they were in 186614.In October 1864 the Members of the Happy Brothers Lodge of Independent Odd Fellows (Wolverhampton Unity) No. 2 Newport held their annual dinner at the Horns at 2pm – tickets 2s 6d and “the company of any friend will be deemed a favour”.In March 1866, the dairy vessels, ale barrels and household furniture of George Machin at the Horns were auctioned off – he was said to be “declining the public business” – but had taken over at the Anchor with his wife Jane by 1871.By 1868 William Jennings was the licensee at the Horns. In February 1869, he opened a new assembly room there and held an invitation ball to celebrate it. “Members of most of the farmers’ families in the neighbourhood and their friends” attended and “the catering of Mr and Mrs Jennings was all that could be desired”15.Earlier that year, a “respectable company” led by Rev. John Till had presented station master James Cooper with a gold watch in appreciation of his five years of “uniform courtesy and attention”16.William Jennings, listed as a plumber, was still at the Horns with his wife Mary in 1871, but in 1878, the licence was transferred from him to Charles Brett17.In 1881 it was William Dodd, with his wife Jane and daughter Emma at the Horns;in 1891 Louisa Greening who listed herself as a hotel keeper; in 1901 it was Thomas Truman from Wiltshire, and in 1911 Ann Mears, a widow from Burslem, with her daughter Elizabeth, and T. Abberley in November 191118.The licensee in 1932 & 1940 was Elizabeth McWilliam.
1.Rental of 1623, Gnosall Manor. S S Gee’s notes,WSL 202/22/832.Overseers Accounts Book, 1734-46, SRO3.Richard Bradbury’s will 17684.Overseers of Poor account book 1782-1802, SRO D951/5/75.1818 - Parson & Bradshaw Directory, and local baptisms6.e.g. 1827, 1828, 1832– Staffordshire Advertiser7.Staffordshire Advertiser, 4 Dec. 18528.Staffordshire Advertiser, 20 Sept. 1856 & 10 Oct. 18609.Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 April 1858, 8 Oct. 1859, 7 July 1860, 29 June 1861m 5 April 186210.Staffordshire Advertiser, 22 Nov. 185611.Birmingham Chronicle & Staffordshire Advertiser, 20 Jan. 185812.Staffordshire Advertiser, 9 May 185713.Wellington Journal, 3 May 185214.Staffordshire Advertiser, 8 August 186315.Staffordshire Advertiser, 27 Feb. 186916.Staffordshire Advertiser, 16 Jan. 186917.Staffordshire Sentinel, 1 July 187818.1910 Finance Act Listing
1910 Finance Act - planSketch of the Horns and outbuildings.Note that the Restaurant at the Audmore Road side is not part of the pub at this time. It is shown as Ref. No. 5 on the plan.Also there was a “skittle Alley” at the rear, and the Garden was land behind the current post office.
1910 Finance Act - descriptionShows that the survey was carried out on 23 November 1911