This is an ongoing project to add the information, data and history of the pubs (Public Houses) that are in Cherry Hinton, both past and present. It is a fluid post with things being added to as I found out more along the way. Please do feel free to add your comments, which I can then approve to be added to the blog, if you so wish.
The Russian Arms Public House
The Russian Arms was a public house in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, that was positioned on the east side of Cherry Hinton High Street, one house north from the Baptist Chapel, on the junction of Cherry Hinton High Street and Fisher's Lane. The records that I have found, so far, for this pub cover dates from 1867 to 1912. So, we know that it was in existence for at least 40 years as the ‘Russian Arms’.
The present-day map below shows the approximate position of the, now private, house which used to be known as the Russian Arms – marked with the red dot.
Here is a picture, below, of the building as it stands today. It is the building on the left, with the burgundy front door in the center. The top three windows from the left belong to this building, along with the 2 bay windows either side of the front door.
The only physical clue that we have to show us that there was once a pub on this site is the name above the front door, shown below, which states “Russian House 1867”
This clue gives us a solid date for this building and for, perhaps, its deliberate construction for use as a public house in 1867. There are no records of a public house upon this site, named the Russian Arms or otherwise before this date. Although, as we can see from this portion of the Cherry Hinton Enclosure Map of 1806, there were certainly buildings of some kind on this plot.
Here is the same map roughly overlaid onto a modern map - see if you can make out where the roads and buildings relate.
It is very likely, due to the angles at which both the older buildings depicted on the 1806 map and the later Russian House building stands, that they were positioned to face what was once one of the village greens in Cherry Hinton. Traditionally, the often thatched, cottages would line the edges of a village green to face inwards in order to be able to keep an eye of the cattle and livestock overnight when they were brought back in from the common land - just a little further down Fisher's Lane was a small common called Drayton Common (now built upon) which was in use throughout the medieval period. There is still some evidence today of the green at the corner of Fisher's Lane where it joins with the High Street. There was also a large pond (now filled in and built upon) on the other side of the road, on the High Street directly opposite the Baptist Chapel - giving clues to one of the features often associated with a village and it's green - a village pond. Perfect for keeping the livestock watered. It was very common to find a pub within this scene but as I have mentioned we have no records suggesting a pub on this site any earlier that our 1867 Russian House/Arms.
The records that I have found, that mention or relate to the Russian Arms, are as follows (in chronological order):
OCTOBER 29th 1881 – Cambridge Chronicle
“ “Russian Arms” Public House, and 18 tenements mostly brick and slate, ANNUAL RENTAL £133 14s. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION BY WM. WALLIS, ON TUESDAY, November the 8th 1881, at the “Russian Arms”, Cherry Hinton, Cambs, at six for seven o’clock in the evening, by order of the Mortgagee with the power of sale in the following or other such lots as may be determined upon at the time of sale…….
LOT 4. All that New-built Brick and Slate PUBLIC-HOUSE, DOUBLE FRONTAGE, known by the sign of “The Russian Arms”, with a frontage of 66ft. 6in. The house is admirably adapted for business, having the above frontage with large Bay Windows and containing 8 Rooms with Club Room, good Cellar, Range and Copper, also a side gate Entrance to stable, Cart Shed, with lost over, Brick and Pantile outbuilding, etc. There is a Drying Ground to the back of this property with a width of 8ft. and a depth of 50ft. The above is let to Mr. W. H. Apthorpe on a lease expiring the 25th. March 1883 at a yearly rental of £35. Copyhold of the Manor of Hinton Netherhall.”
This is the first documentary evidence that I have found that discusses our pub. You can see from the record that it is regarding the sale of the property. We know from that date of the building, that it appears to have been constructed in 1867. 14 years later in 1881 it is being sold along with some other properties and the auction of all of these properties, along with the pub, is taking place at the Russian Arms itself. Auctions of property often took place in public houses in those days. What we can see from the description of the Russian Arms, is what it would have looked like and how that correlates to what remains today. The description lists the Russian Arms as 'new built', which in essence it was, being about only 14 years old. The large bay windows mentioned are still there today and we get a good description of what the building and pub itself would have been like, inside and out.
The seller of the property is William Wallis, an agent for the Netherhall Manor estate, and the property is copyhold of the Manor of Hinton Netherhall. There were once four manors in Cherry Hinton, two situated in Church End (the north part of Cherry Hinton) - Uphall Manor and Mallets Manor and two more situated in Mill End (the southern part of Cherry Hinton) - Rectory Manor and Netherhall Manor. Netherhall Manor was one of the largest Manors and would have been a physical manor house with a large administrative role in the village. Today there are no manor houses in physical form left -each one having fallen in to disrepair, gone out of use or pulled down. The only one that we do have some evidence of still standing, is that of Uphall Manor, which stands in Church End as a private house now. It was extensively remodelled and changed, the only clues to its original purpose hidden behind later brick encasement. (A separate blog is being done for the manors of Cherry Hinton, where you'll be able to read more there). At the time of this sale of the Russian Arms in 1881, Netherhall Manor was no longer a 'manor house' but was an administrative body which ran the estate and lands still belonging to what was Netherhall Manor.
The other key piece of information within the sale details is that the Russian Arms was being let to Mr W. H. Apthorpe, his lease was due to expire in another two years.
Both William Henry Apthorpe junior and his father W H Apthorpe were both well known brewers and public house owners in Cambridge during the mid-late 1800's. In 1868 William Henry Apthorpe junior had acquired the Albion Brewery in Coronation Street in Cambridge. His father owned the Victoria Brewery in Napier Street. W H Apthorpe senior retired from brewing by 1875 and the pubs that his brewery controlled were passed on to his son. By 1895 the Albion Brewery had at least 50 tied pubs in Cambridge - presumably including our own Russian Arms.
It is wholly likely then, that beer brewed at Apthorpe's Albion Brewery, shown in the picture above, was sold and served in the Russian Arms, here in Cherry Hinton.
An article on Albion Brewery on capturingcambridge.org shows what happened to the brewery after this date:
1896: acquired hy Lacon
E Lacon & Co, brewers, wine and spirit merchants
H W Badcock, Granta View, Stapleford, manager
E Lacon Ltd, brewers wine and spirit merchants
Lacon taken over by Whitbreads. Site demolished soon after.
The last date of use of our Russian Arms, being a working pub in the village, is 1912. So from the information given above it would have seen at least one change of ownership and probably brewery - that of the change in 1896 to Lacon.
In the London Gazette 1862 we find further evidence as to which Apthrope - father or son - would have been involved with our Russian Arms:
"NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership sub- sisting between us the undersigned, William Henry Apthorpe and William Henry Apthorpe the younger, in the business of Maltsters and Brewers, carried on by us at the borough of Cambridge, under the firm of Apthorpe and Son, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due to and from the partnership will be received and paid by the said William Henry Aptborpe, by whom the busi- ness will in future solely be carried on.—Dated this 12th day of May, 1862.
W. H. Apthorpe.'
With our building being constructed in 1867, it would mean that the Russian Arms would be in the management of William Henry Apthorpe junior.
Shortly after the notice of sale, in November 1881 we find the following announcement:
NOVEMBER 12th 1881 – Cambridge Chronicle
“On Tuesday last, the following property, situate at Cherry Hinton, was sold at the “Russian Arms”, by Mr. Wm. Wallis:-………………
LOT 4. The “Russian Arms” public-house, with cart-shed, loft and brick and pantile outbuilding, copyhold of the Manor of Hinton Netherhall, fine certain, sold to Mr. W. H. Apthorpe for £480.”
This shows that Apthorpe junior goes ahead and buys the Russian Arms and becomes owner rather than the tenant of the property. It does make me wonder though...If the Apthorpe's were the first to run a pub there and if they didn't actually build the building itself (as tenants only, why would they have?) then perhaps the naming of the pub "The Russian Arms" was simply due to the house being called "Russian House" as we can see remains the name above the door today. This means rather than searching for reasons for naming a pub the Russian Arms, the line of enquiry falls to why the original building was named Russian House. I would, at this point, be inclined to think that the Russian Arms was so named after the house itself....although....having said that...surely it was built for use as a pub rather than converted - if we go by the sale description of the building? this is a little mystery to solve!
We can see that the pub was still in business in 1887 as it is mentioned indirectly when an announcement is made in the Cambridge Newspaper regarding two cottages that were being sold next door - notice that Fisher's Lane is referred to as "Chapel Lane" due to the Baptist Chapel which was built in 1870. This name doesn't seem to be used very often in the records and today retains the preferred "Fisher's Lane". There wasn't another small lane next to the Chapel which could have had this name that can be discovered as of yet.
March 4th 1887 – Cambridge Chronicle
“CHERRY HINTON, CAMBS
Two Freehold Cottages in Chapel Lane…..and Two Brick, Stud and Tiled Cottages, situate next “The Russian Arms” Public House, …..”
In 1888 we find an entry that shows the Russian Arms still going strong and playing its role as an integral part of the community, when an inquest is held at the pub - again, along with auctions, sales and various club meetings, village pubs were often used to hold inquests and court session.
JANUARY 20th 1888 – Cambridge Chronicle
“INQUEST – Mr. C. W. Palmer, the county coroner, on Wednesday, held an inquiry at the “Russian Arms”, Cherry Hinton, into the circumstances attending the death of Blackman Flack, aged 57. The deceased had been an outpatient at the Hospital, and died rather suddenly on the 11th inst. A post-mortem examination, made by Dr. Perkins, showed that death was occasioned by consumption, and a verdict to that effect was returned.”
In 1893 we again find reference to the Russian Arms through an announcement regarding the sale of some cottages next door.
MAY 26th 1893 – Cambridge Chronicle
“Two Cottages, Brick, Stud and Tile built. Situate next the Russian Arms Public House….To be sold.”
Then the final newspaper entry that I can find for our pub, dated 1894, is in regard to another inquest held at the premises:
SEPTEMBER 7th 1894 – Cambridge Chronicle
“A FATAL FIT
An inquest was held at the “Russian Arms”, Cherry Hinton, on Wednesday evening, by Mr. A.J. Lyon, County Coroner, on the body of Susan Merry aged 49, who died somewhat suddenly on the previous Tuesday morning. David Merry, a labourer, the husband of the deceased, said on Monday afternoon, while his wife was washing, she fell down in a fit. She was subject to fainting fits, but on this occasion she did not rally as usual, and she never spoke again. He did not send for a doctor, as he thought she would come round; he had known her to be in a fit for six hours. There was no change in her condition from the time when she was seized until just before she died.-
Mrs Sarah Watts said when she was called to the deceased she was lying insensible on the floor of the kitchen. She remained in that condition for two or three hours. The doctor was sent for when witness though the deceased was dying.-
Dr. Nicholls, of Fulbourn, said he had made a post mortem examination of the body, and was of the opinion that death was due to heart disease. It was doubtful if a doctor could have done any good had he been sent for at the time of the seizure. The jury returned a verdict of “Death from natural causes.”
It is worth now checking the census returns to see who was actually living in the building over the years and to see if we can find a solid date when the building stopped being a public house.
The first entry that we have for the Russian Arms is in the 1871 Census - about 4 years after being built. Census returns were done every 10 years, the previous return was for 1861 - before our building was erected. I did however search the entire Census entries from 1841 - when they started - through to 1861 just in case there was any evidence of a pub previously on the same site but there was none.
The following details are given in 1871 Census:
Russian Arms, High Street, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge
Thomas Merry, born in Cherry Hinton, aged 33, Head, Beer House Keeper - living with him are; Charlotte Merry, born Little Wilbraham, aged 32, shop keeper - along with Fred Merry, 1 year old and George Merry 1 month old, both born in Cherry Hinton.
Notice that Thomas is running the 'beer house' but that his wife Charlotte is noted as a shop keeper - was this her occupation elsewhere in the village or town of Cambridge or did she run a small shop from the pub premises?
A couple of doors up from Thomas and Charlotte are further members of the 'Merry' family - perhaps Thomas' parents. They are predominantly Agricultural labourers.
In the 1881 Census the following details are given:
Russian Arms, High Street, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge
Thomas Merry, born Cherry Hinton, aged 44, porter - living with him are;
Charlotte Merry, born Little Wilbraham, aged 44 - along with Mary A Merry, aged 13, scholar, George Merry, aged 11, scholar, Frederick Merry, aged 10, scholar, Sarah Merry, aged 7, scholar and Rosina Merry, aged 2.
No mention of Charlotte being a shopkeeper and Thomas is listed as a porter - beer porter? or an additional occupation? Their daughter Mary A Merry wasn't listed on the previous census, so was presumably staying with relatives when the last census was being taken. Frederick and George are still there and in the intervening ten years Sarah and Rosina Merry have been born.
In the County Directory, Thomas Merry is listed as a Beer Retailer and shop keeper in 1869 & 1879 and Beer Retailer in Cherry Hinton in 1883.
The 1891 Census tells us the following:
Russian Arms, High Street, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge-
Sarah Fuller, aged 58, born Essex, Little Bury, Widow, Publican
with her are her daughter Mary Ann Fuller, born Cherry Hinton, aged 36, Laundress and her son Charles Henry Fuller, born Cherry Hinton, aged 34, Carrier.
As you can see from the above, the Merry family are no longer at the premises. Sarah Fuller was married to Charles Fuller and they had previous lived in Mill End, Cherry Hinton. Charles senior had been a railway labourer. After he had died Sarah takes on the business of running the Russian Arms.
Sarah Fuller is listed in the County Directory as a Beer Retailer, Cherry Hinton in 1892.
1901 Census is more vague with its addresses and there is a possibility for the occupants of the Russian Arms, listed on the High Street, Cherry Hinton but it doesn't distinguish where exactly on the High Street or if it could be the Hopbine, Five Bells or the Russian Arms - all of which were on the High Street at this time. Annoyingly it does note the names of The Robin Hood, The Unicorn and The Red Lion - at least it rules those ones out. Even with reading through the addresses in succession it is still not completely clear - we do have an 'Inn Keeper' on the High Street called Jane Nightingale who is a widow from Barnwell, Cambridge and is living on which ever premises it is with six of his children aged from 11 -27 (all of whom were born in Trumpington - two of the girls are working as laundry workers - a well known Cherry Hinton profession). At the moment we can't say for certain if this is the family who are then living at our pub.
An interesting article in Ale -Cambridge & District Branch Newsletter Issue 391 February 2019 - discusses the interesting character of Joe Nightingale from Trumpington who's second wife was Jane Nightingale. They had been running the Volunteer pub in Trumpington. When Jane was widowed she came to Cherry Hinton and was running the Russian Arms in 1901. So it would seem it was the Nightgales at the Russian Arms at this date.
"....his evidently very sturdy widow probably carried on in the Volunteer for a short time, but by 1901 she (along with much of her brood) had moved on to the Russian Arms in Cherry Hinton...."
You can read more about this here: https://www.cambridge-camra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Ale391.pdf
The image above shows us what the Russian Arms would have looked like during its working existence, this is very roughly dated to around 1910. I will place a zoomed in version below so that we can see the pub and its sign a little better.
We have more luck with the 1911 Census, which gives the following information:
Russian Arms, High Street, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge;
George Burch, Head, aged 38, born Ipswich, Publican.
Annie Burch, wife, aged 36, born Eastmeon, Hants, married for 15 years, 7 children - all survived, assisting in the business.
Florence Burch, born Eastbourn, Sussex, aged 14, domestic day girl.
Winnifred Burch, born Eastbourne, Sussex, aged 13, school.
Daisy Burch, born Eastbourne, Sussex, aged 11, school.
Fred Burch, born Portsmouth, aged 10, school.
Edgar Burch, born Cambridge, aged 9, school.
Dorothy Burch, born Cambridge, aged 6, school.
Edward Burch, born Cherry Hinton, aged 2.
We can see that the pub is still running in 1911, the Burch family in residence. Given the age of Edward Burch, their youngest at 2 years old and being the first of the children born in Cherry Hinton, suggests that the family are relatively new to the village and therefore perhaps not that long in the pub itself.
We cannot yet access the 1921 Census until January 2022 when it is to be released. So now I shall turn to the County and Village Directories to see if we can find out anything else.
So far, I have been hitting a dead end for anything after 1911 to say that the pub was still in use and no records coming up for the Burch family placing them still there, so as it stands we know that the pub was still going in 1911 but that is currently the end date we have for its use.
The Lost Pubs (www.closedpubs.co.uk) project gives us the following information:
"The Russian Arms was situated on Cherry Hinton High Street. This pub closed in 1912 under the 1904 Compensation Act."
Mike Petty (www.mikepetty.org.uk) also mentions this, in his compilation on Cherry Hinton, taken from historical newspaper reports:
1912 07 26
Licensing: Cherry Hinton Russian Arms, 12 07 26
1912 11 15
Licensing compensation for Cherry Hinton Russian Arms
1935 07 05 The Five Bells was one of five fully-licensed houses in Cherry Hinton. In 1920 the Hop Bine, next door, was done away with and the Russian Arms had been closed in 1912. Lacons the brewers said the extra penny on beer had hit sales. The Five Bells had been ringing harmoniously for a good many years to the comfort and convenience of the inhabitants and should be allowed to continue to ring a litter longer. The licence was renewed - 35 07 05b
From these reports we can see that the Russian Arms ceased trading in 1912 and became a private dwelling house.
The Russian Arms had closed as a result of the 1904 Licensing Act. It seems that the idea was to reduce the numbers of licences in congested areas, and compensation was paid under the Act.
Under the Licensing Act, 1904, in the seven years from 1905 to 1911, 7,318 licensed premises were closed with compensation. Of these, 6,880 were in England and 438 in Wales. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/acts/licensing-act-1904
Please do get in touch if you would like to make a comment or have any further information. More history and information on the other pubs in Cherry Hinton coming soon....
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