The Fireplace
Hen and Chicken fireplace old These two photographs of the fireplace in the Hen & Chicken are nearly 100 years apart. The upper shows clearly the racks that held the letters, and the benefits of an inglenook fireplace! The lower picture was taken in 1983, after a chimney fire had seriously damaged the fireplace. The Alton Herald of Friday October 21st reported:-
“The fire......was thought to have started sometime on Sunday evening, but was not discovered until 7am on Monday morning by the landlady.......She found the sitting room of her upstairs flat full of smoke. Rushing downstairs to the bar she found the whole fireplace area glowing and most of the oak beams surrounding it well ablaze.”

Luckily the Alton Fire Brigade prevented any further damage and the fireplace was successfully rebuilt.

The elderly gentleman sitting in the fireplace is believed to be Mr Rawson, the landlord in the early 1900s. During that period the Inn became a gathering place for horse dealers and other ‘travellers’ and, occasionally, tempers would flare, and Mr Rawson, apparently had a unique way of dealing with them. Like many country people, he kept bees and one particular day, when things started to get out of hand, he brought them into the pub and set them on the ‘travellers’. That soon cleared the room! After that he only had to say “Do you want me to let my little friends out?” and peace reigned.

(click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Hen and Chicken fireplace 1983