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Honiton Inn - Paris Street

Page updated 22 October 2009

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Honiton Inn signSituated at number 74 Paris Street, this is the only building left in the street after the bombing of 1942 and the 1950's rebuilding. This pub looks like the house in the story that started in the country and eventually found itself surrounded by huge office buildings in the heart of the city. There was a large house here in 1738 with a thatched roof. The earliest reference to the Honiton Inn I have discovered is a notice in Trewman's Exeter Flying Post during 1795 for a sale of the Honiton Inn which indicates Mr Stockham as the vendor. The inn was the venue for the sale of two small orchards, one in Cheeke Street and one in Spillars Lane during May 1817.

It would appear from records, that the job of inn keeper led to many a suicide. In the Flying Post of 10 January 1825, the inquest into the suicide of John Franklin, landlord of the Honiton Inn is reported and a month later the inn was for sale by auction. The next landlord, Mr John Hawkins was found not guilty of out of hours trading in December 1848. A sale for a thoroughbred horse called Atlantic at the Honiton Inn was advertised over two months in 1852 with Husseys conducting the affair. Mr Hawkins gave way for Mr Henry Stevens in 1853 who remained until he was declared bankrupt in 1859. He was charged damages in August 1857 for shooting a dog belonging to Mr Floud. During all these years the inn was regularly used for inquests into the deaths of locals from Paris Street.

In June 1872 the owner for many years, Mr John Wippel died and the inn was put up for sale with "Dwelling and Shop adjoining the Inn, having a frontage of 59 feet and a depth of 179 feet, containing bar, smoking room, tap room, kitchen, and excellent bed and sitting rooms. There is a commodious cellar, a brewhouse, four-stall stable, a good skittle alley, and a well of excellent spring water. The adjoining dwelling contains shop, with sitting room behind, and three bed rooms. This lot is occupied by Mr. Higgins and Mr Leyman."

In 1889, the landlord, Mr Morgan umpired a 'married and singles' rounders match. The next landlord, Mr Welsman, appears to have encouraged both bagatelle in the house, and was involved in the Rovers Cycling Club by providing refreshments at various functions for them.

Paris Street was formerly called Shitbrook Street as it ran down to the Shitbrook, presumably at the roundabout. The present building is early 20th Century. During the war the pub was popular with US Marines who were in the city waiting for D-day. The stables at the rear were used for a flourishing black market, fed by the nylons and other goods that were available to the American troops. After the war, Major Frank Robertson took on the license which he held until his death in 1974. His widow Bette continued to run the house until her death in 2008. An auction of the contents took place in 2008.

Here are some entries from the trade directories, listing some past tenants of the Honiton Inn:

1795 - Honiton Inn, Mr Stockman, vendor - for sale notice Flying Post
1816 - Franklin. J., honiton inn p.h. paris s - Pocket Journal
1825 - Honiton Inn, John Franklin - Flying Post
1832/3 - Honiton Inn, John Franklin, Paris street - Pigot's
1844 - Honiton inn, John Mount Stephen, Paris st - Pigot's
1871 - Higgins, C., honiton inn, 74, paris-street - Pocket Journal
1878 - Honiton Inn, Charles Higgins - White's
1897 - Honiton inn, Charles Morgan - Kelly's
1919-23 - Honiton Inn, Mrs Florence Chaplin - Kelly's and Post Office
1934 - Honiton, Wayne, H., 74, Paris st - Besley's
1936 to 1948 - Honiton Inn, Percival Bradford - E&E 2008
1948 to 2008 - Honiton Inn, Frank W and Bette Robertson - Kelly's

The sign shows a piece of Honiton lace - Paris Street is the first part of the route out of Exeter towards Honiton - about 15 miles east. Lace has been made at Honiton from the 17th Century - in the 19th Century strong floral motifs were created on a net background. The central area seems to be missing something - maybe they ran out of thread...

Honiton Inn, Paris Street

Honiton Inn, Paris Street
The Honiton Inn before Paris Street was bombed. Photo courtesy of Terry Dickens.

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