The Cock or Cock Tavern was located at No 3 Denmark Hill on the east side just a little south of The Tiger which some of you will have known as the Silver Buckle.
The Pub is shown in this map extract from, Camberwell & Peckham, Suburbs of London, sheet 5 by Edward Weller, for the Weekly Dispatch, 1868 .
The earliest record I have found is this account of a boxing match. On August 19, 1802, Jem Belcher was visiting Camberwell Fair with friends. Jem was one the country’s leading bare fist boxers.
He happened to hear another boxer Joe Berks who is described as “as was frequently the case, had been drinking not wisely but too well.” He was saying to the crowd that he would have “thrashed” Belcher, had he not “cut it” in Yorkshire. Joe Berks was referring to a fight they had on 25 november 1801 , where Joe was defeated after 16 rounds of desperate fighting.
Jem asks Joe what he means by that, and Joe replies “Mr Belcher, i’m a man as sticks to my word, what I say I mean …” So it was arrange the two men should meet behind the back of the Cock Tavern and have a trun on the bowling green. Jow attacked Jem while he was still peeling, however Belcher managed to hit Berks full in the face when both men were pursuaded to meet again on the morrow at Harry Lee’s house, The Black Horse in Oxford Street. Jem was agin victorius after 14 rounds.
The 1st landlord listed is William Young in Pigot’s Directory in 1826, with Thomas Ongley listed as landlord from 1839 through 1856 also Pigot’s Directory and the Post Office Directory.
The Cock Tavern was often the location for meetings of The Chartists in the early 1840’s as per this extract from the Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser dated 30 Dec, 1843.
In The Era newspaper, Richard Dalby is listed as leaving in November 1867 with Thomas Charles Carter as the incoming licensee. And again in The Era in November 1871 Rebort Creswick as outgoing and Josh Henning as the new landlord.
Mr Harry Kennett is recorded as landlord in 1877 and an old newspaper report tells of the suicide of 19 year old Ellen Gissing, who in 1877 killed herself by ingesting poison at the Cock Tavern at 3, Denmark Hill, Camberwell, London. She was found by Alice Tetheridge who then called on the landlord, Mr Kennett, for assistance. Sadly it was too late for Ellen, who had taken the strychnine as a result of her shame and fear of becoming, as she put it, “in the family way”, having been seduced by the pub’s unnamed potman. She had written to her Aunt asking her to visit at Camberwell saying “Oh, my dearest Aunt, it is with sorrow and in trouble that I write to you. A month ago I was alone with the potman in the house, when he took advantage of me and seduced me. Since that time I have never had a moment’s peace of mind. I hope and believe that I am not in the family way for it only happened that once. Oh how he insulted me; don’t tell my mother.With a broken heart I shall leave this place, and never again be the girl I have been. Live I cannot”
In 1878, Arthur Bellet Frank is Landlord as listed in the London Suburban Post Office Directory, with Louisa Stedman, a widow, aged 64 in charge as Landlady in 1881. The census that year reocrds her along with her son George (35) Charles (30), Zephamah (32) Priscilla (24) along with John Frankland, (15) as barmand and William Payne (26) as potman a Hannah Vincent (23) as a general servant.
The following court case report from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph from 19 July 1887 tells us about the unusual breach of promises between James Stedman and Miss Annie Eliza Wrigglesworth.
From Lloyd’s Weekly 13 May 1888 we learn of the following tragic death.
On July 26th, 1890 Mr Ayres, the Landlord had a grand opening of a fully refurbished Cock Tavern. The following report was published.
To be continued….