The beaming badger | The pub’s history
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The pub’s history

The Duke of Marlborough…


…is a Grade II timber framed building with its origins in the early 15th century.


It occupies a crossroads location at the junction of Chapel Lane, Hall Lane  and the Main Road which was called Upper Street at the time of the tithe survey in 1838, and formed a separate hamlet to Lower Street, near St Mary’s church to the east.


Since becoming an Inn (early 17th century) it has been called various names relating to the national hero of the time, the 1st Duke of Marlborough – John Churchill, victor of the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.


The crest of John Churchill, which is flanked by two wyverns, gave inspiration to our new logo!

Medieval beginnings…


The timber frame was built of three principal phases, the oldest of which dates from the early years of the 15th century when the building would have started life as a house.


Medieval houses typically consisted of a simple floor plan dominated by a great hall, with rooms off it to either end. They were designed display the wealth and status of their owner.


The hall would have had an open hearth without a chimney. The fire would have simply been a bonfire on its floor with smoke escaping through the roof covering and through tall, unglazed windows which rose from normal sill height to eaves level.

The timber-framed and jettied cross-wing facing Church Lane is particularly special as it is a fine medieval facade that provides rare surviving evidence of the external appearance of 15th century buildings.


This part of the building would have functioned as a service wing to the hall itself, which was likely demolished in the 19th century and was replaced by the ‘lean-to’  structure that currently functions as the office at the rear of the pub today.

The hall becomes an Inn


The building contains several features that suggest it was functioning as an inn by the beginning of the 17th century.  Clues are the impressive arched fireplace and the unusual pattern of windows that suggests it formed part of an early inn.


‘It retains large areas of blank wall in a manner that is highly characteristic of 19th century inns shown in early photographs but which rarely survives today: a peculiarity that presumably derives from a desire to paint signs as well as save money on the window tax – and perhaps to offer a degree of privacy to drinkers desiring to avoid employers and spouses alike!’

The inn was mentioned in the Ipswich Journal of July 1821, and in 1844 the ‘Duke of Marlboro’ was occupied by Robert Raynham who, as a licensed victualler, supplied food as well as ale –indicating the property was a respectable inn rather than an alehouse.


Two unnamed ‘beerhouses’ were mentioned at the same time, and presumably equate to the other known village pubs, the King’s Head and the Griffin.


The 1851 census names Isaac Flory as an ‘innkeeper’ (who lived there with his wife and baby daughter along with three lodgers).


By 1861 it was occupied by William Green, an innkeeper and ‘dealer’ (probably in horses or cattle). The inn’s name changed soon afterwards, and was given as the ‘Marlbro Head’ on the Ordnance Survey of 1884.

In 1902 the premises were part of the extensive local estate of the Ipswich-based brewers Cobbold & Co. and included stalls for four horses.   The Cobbold lettering can still seen under the render behind the current mounted sign that faces the car park!


The pub was known to locals as the ‘Marlboro Head’ as late as 1970 But had had reverted to the Duke of Marlborough by at least 1986.


This summary is taken from a fascinating heritage report undertaken by Heritage Consultant Leigh Alston in 2017. Our thanks to him!   If you would be interested to read the full report do get in touch.

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