The Hen & Chickens
Hen and Chickens
Hen and Chicken
At the turn of the century In the 1930s

(click on the pictures to enlarge them)

At the beginning of the 18th century there were few proper roads. There were two tracks from Holybourne to Bentley, the upper track used in winter, through Froyle past the Church, and the lower track nearer the river used in summer. As stage coaches and road waggons were coming more into use, it was necessary to construct a proper road, and so Froyle was by-passed. An old directory, about 1730, gives the route Alton, Holybourne, Bentley, leaving out Froyle, so the road must have been completed before that date. Even the present main road is not, in several places, on the exact original. From near the Hen & Chicken to Quarry Bottom, traces of the original can be seen inside the park wall, and the place where the stream was forded, before there was a bridge, can easily be traced. Probably the wall was not there in 1730, as it is supposed that French prisoners built it in the time of Napoleon.
The Hen & Chicken was built about 1740 as a Chaise House where people met the Stage Coaches. For some considerable time it was called the “Hen & Chickens” - closer examination of the photograph will reveal this on the sign at the centre of the frame. The pub has changed relatively little over the years as can be seen from the right hand picture, which dates from the 1930's.
The cottages in the distance in the right hand picture - the left hand picture is from a slightly different angle and they are not visible - are known as Turnpike Cottages and are alleged to have been the stables for the Inn. However, Christopher Hussey, in his December 1941 Country Life article describes the Hen & Chicken thus:-

“It is an attractive, little altered, brick Georgian house, with posting stables at the back........”

The layout of Turnpike Cottages suggests that they were built as cottages, not converted from stables. The Hen & Chicken(s) was an important Post Inn on the stagecoach routes to London, where not only horses would be changed, but mail would be collected and delivered.