History

A History of The Royal Oak

How The Royal Oak Inn came to be owned by the Parish Council

Many visitors are interested to know a little of the history of the Royal Oak Inn. The building is documented as being in existence since 1510. There is evidence that there was almost certainly a brew house here from as early as 1102. The pub was originally owned by the church and was known as The Church House Inn.

From some point during the 19th Century the task of letting the pub was given to the Guardians of the Poor of the Tavistock Union. However, the Meavy Parish meeting retained responsibility for choosing the tenant. Since the merger of the parishes of Meavy, Sheepstor and Walkhampton to form Burrator Grouped Parish in 1974 the building has been owned by Burrator Parish. The Landlord leases the pub from the parish and the lease income is used to ensure a low parish precept, part of the council tax for properties within Burrator Parish Council.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Royal Oak Inn, though owned by Meavy Parish, was still let by the Guardians of the Poor of the Tavistock Union. Meavy at the time was not a Parish Council, it was a rural parish having a Parish Meeting. A parish meeting could not conduct such business as letting a property, but the Tavistock Union could under the provisions of the ‘Union and Parish Property Act 1835’.

However the Local Government Act 1894 gave provision for a County Council to give powers to a Parish Meeting any of the powers conferred on a Parish Council. Amongst these powers was the right to let property and conduct business on behalf of the parish ratepayers. But it wasn’t until 1903 that the ratepayers of the parish decided it was time for them to manage their own affairs.

At the Meavy Parish Meeting of 7th August 1903 a resolution was put with respect to parish property: “That this parish meeting of the ratepayers of the Parish of Meavy desires the County Council of Devon to confirm upon the Parish Meeting of the said parish of Meavy the powers contained in sub-section 10 of section 19 of the Local Government Act of 1894”. In other words, they wanted to take over letting the Royal Oak Inn. Devon County Council conferred the required powers in an order dated 26th September 1903.

But clearly things moved slowly in Meavy at this time, because it is not until 25th January 1904 that a Parish Meeting was held to consider the order. At this meeting a sub-committee was appointed to call upon Mr Bickle the tenant of the Royal Oak Inn to confer with him as to the terms of his tenancy. This sub-committee consisted of Ian Northmore, Isaac Moses and Rev. Richard Tyacke. In the transfer to the Parish Council of Meavy a condition was made that one room should always be available for use by the Parish Church Council.

Perhaps there was dissatisfaction among the ratepayer that a sub-committee of three was too small, we will never know. But at the next Parish Council Meeting on 26th February this sub-committee was enlarged. The minutes show that a proposal was made by Mr R. B. Johns seconded by Mr Bickle: “that Mr Ian Daw and the two overseers, namely W. Williams and James Northmore, be added to the sub-committee appointed at the last meeting, and that it be left to the sub-committee to make such alterations in the sanitary arrangements of the Royal Oak Inn as shall satisfy the licensing justices.” The bill of 11 Guinees for the resulting sanitary improvements was paid from the rates.

This sub-committee was the precursor of what is now called ‘The Royal Oak Inn Committee’. The Inn has been the responsibility of ratepayers for over 100 years.

The building remains the property of Burrator Parish Council. So far as I am aware it is the only pub in England & Wales owned by a Parish Council. The current landlord, Mr Stephen Earp, leases the pub from the Parish Council. Originally the balance of funds from the lease where intended to be used for the benefit of the residents of the Parish of Meavy, but now the funds are just used to keep down the Burrator Parish Precept which is added to the council tax for properties within Burrator Parish Council.

 

Michael Parle

 

(ref. Meavy Parish Meeting minute books, items no. 1255/1 and 2727/10 held at Plymouth and West Devon Record Office)

 

The Inn, the church, and the village green

 

Meavy Oak Tree and Village Green, c1830
Meavy, the oak tree, church and pub, c1834, from a drawing by N.M.Condy

 

Meavy Green and Royal Oak Inn, painting c1900
from a painting c1900

 

Meavy Village Green c1906
Meavy Village Green c1906

 

Meavy Village Green 1934
Meavy Village Green 1934

 

Snow on Meavy Village Green, December 2009
Snow on Meavy Village Green, December 2009

 

 

Who has lived at the Royal Oak Inn?

 

1841 Census

Meavy Public House
Name Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
WARE, Nicholas M 40 1801 Inn Keeper Devon
WARE, Margret F 30 1811 Devon
WARE, Jane F 15 1826 Devon
WARE, Lucey F 10 1831 Devon
WARE, Armonal F 5 1836 Devon
WARE, Henry M 9m 1840 Devon
KINAR, Jane Mary F 15 1826 Devon

 

1851 Census

Meavy Public House
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
SELLECK, Francis Head Married M 27 1824 Publican Shaugh, Devon
SELLECK, Mary Ann Wife Married F 23 1828 Publican Wife Shaugh, Devon
SELLECK, Elizabeth Jane Daughter F 1 1850 Publican Daughter Shaugh, Devon
BUTLAND, Joseph Lodger Unmarried M 34 1817 Labourer St Charls, Devon

 

1861 Census

Royal Oak Inn
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
SELLECK, Francis Head Married M 36 1825 Publican & Farmer 18 Acres Shaugh, Devon
SELLECK, Mary Ann Wife Married F 34 1827 Publican Wife Shaugh, Devon
SELLECK, Elizabeth Daughter F 12 1849 Publican Daughter Shaugh, Devon
SELLECK, Mary Ann Daughter F 10 1851 Scholar Meavy, Devon
SELLECK, George Son M 8 1853 Scholar Meavy, Devon
SELLECK, Eliza Daughter F 7 1854 Scholar Meavy, Devon
SELLECK, Richard Son M 6 1855 Scholar Meavy, Devon
SELLECK, Francis Son M 5 1856 Meavy, Devon
SELLECK, Thomas Son M 3 1858 Meavy, Devon
SELLECK, Elizia Daughter F 1 1860 Meavy, Devon
HAMBLY, Ann Servant Unmarried F 22 1839 Dairymaid Blackawton

 

1871 Census

Publick House, Meavy
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
SMALE, Henry Head Married M 31 1840 Carpenter Licensed Victualler Monkokehampton, Devon
SMALE, Mary Bickley Wife Married F 25 1846 Carpenter Wife Cornwood, Devon
SMALE, William Vivan Son M 6m 1870 Meavy, Devon
LOWDEN, Priscilla Servant Unmarried F 28 1843 General Servant Meavy, Devon

 

1881 Census

The Royal Oak
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
WARREN, Edward Head Married M 48 1833 Publican Widdicombe, Devon
WARREN, Sarah Wife Married F 41 1840 Sheepstor, Devon
WARREN, Edward Son M 12 1869 Scholar Mayo, Ireland
WARREN, Isabella Daughter F 9 1872 Scholar Mayo, Ireland
WARREN, George Son M 5 1876 Scholar Berkhampstead, Herts
WARREN, Louisa Daughter F 6m 1880 Berkhampstead, Herts

 

1891 Census

Royal Oak Inn
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
BICKLE, Richard H Head Married M 31 1860 Inn Keeper Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, Mary L Wife Married F 30 1861 Devonport, Devon
BICKLE, John A Son M 9 1882 Scholar Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, Louisa E Daughter F 5 1886 Scholar Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, Richard H Son M 3 1888 Scholar Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, George Son M 1 1890 Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, John A Brother Single M 26 1865 General Labourer Meavy, Devon
HOCKINGS, Mary E Servant Single F 18 1873 General servant (domestic) Churston, Devon

 

1901 Census

Royal Oak Inn
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
BICKLE, Richard Head Married M 42 1859 Innkeeper Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, Mary Wife Married F 46 1855 Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, John Son Single M 19 1882 Seaman R N Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, Louisa Daughter Single F 15 1886 Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, Richard Son Single M 13 1888 Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, George Son Single M 11 1890 Meavy, Devon
BICKLE, William Son Single M 5 1896 Meavy, Devon

 

1911 Census

Royal Oak
Name Relation Condition Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Where Born
BICKLE, Richard H Head Married M 51 1860 General Labourer And Innkeeper Devon, Meavy
BICKLE, Mary W Wife Married* F 58 1853 Devon, Meavy
BICKLE, George Son Single M 21 1890 General Labourer Devon, Meavy
BICKLE, William W Son Single M 15 1896 General Labourer Devon, Meavy

*Years Present Marriage has lasted: 12; Total Children Born Alive: None

 

1939 Register

Royal Oak Inn
Name Sex Date of Birth Condition Occupation
Wralting, William H M 27/03/1879 M Licensed Victualler
Wralting, Gertrude J F 23/11/1876 M Landlady helps in ?, Retired Royal Marines Musician