The Old Punch House

An early photograph, c1860s
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Sales particulars for 1923
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Formerly known as The Bunch of Grapes, the earliest known reference to the pub is in 1811.  It is said to have been built in the reign of William III and was known as The Punch House by 1835.  Although described as ‘newly erected’ in 1811, the present building dates partly from the 18th century.

The room on the top floor was described in 1923 as an observatory.  It was owned and run by the Ellis family from 1811 to 1923.  James Smith gave the following description as it appeared in 1835:

‘One famous place of resort for the elderly gentlemen of that generation was The Punch House, and the landlord of it, Ellis by name was himself a gentleman.  To all outward appearance, it was a substantial private residence, but it had a small bar, a miracle of neatness and elegance at which one but the regular habitues of the establishment ever dreamed of asking to be served; and there was a spacious coffee-room in the rear, panelled with polished mahogany and divided into boxes, where white-headed patriachs used to meet in the afternoon and evening and discuss politics and local topics over their port wine negus or their mulled claret’

In 1924, it was purchased by Simpsons for £2,000.  In 1979, it was extended into the old Bell and Sun next door which had lately been used as an Oxfam shop.  A refurbishment took place in 2003 at a cost of £400,000.

Old tales..

According to John Rodgers, a resident who was in his eighties in the 1930s, forty rats were let loose in the landlady’s drawing room which were all killed by dogs.  There was one resident would regularly fill his mouth with live bees and let them out singularly among the customers

Some landlords and ladies

1870s – William Ellis

1936 – James McLeod

1943 – Ellen McLeod

1958 – A.L.N Dare


This page was added on 29/08/2012.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!