The Royal Oak
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The Royal Oak today
The Royal Oak c.1900
The history of this pub is comparatively recent beginning in 1867, though the building is very old. The 1841 Tithe Map and Census shows it belonging to Catherine and Fanny Love who were shown as a Linen drapers , Grocers and Tea Dealers in the Pigots Directory for 1844, they also appear in the 1830 directory. The 1832 Poor rates describe Catherine as Miss Love, but what is interesting is that John Love is the owner of the George Inn in the same list, and is also listed as the village butcher. By 1867, the year of the transfer, the building was being used as a butchers shop in one part and a house occupied by John Wild who was also a Tailor.
The name of the pub referred to a tree at Boscobel, Shropshire, where the fleeing king CharlesII hid in an oak tree to evade his would-be captors of Cromwell's army. It is a fairly common name, especially in Dorset. The sign shows the memorial stone that was erected just outside Bridport where The King took a fortuitous path to Broadwindsor and safety. Reg Pavey mentions that amongst his other interests John was the Village Cryer and received a shilling for calling through the Street when boats came into Lyme with coal. By 1871 John Wild is described as a Tailor and it is his wife, Elizabeth with 2 young children who is running the Beer House. The directory for 1885 shows that Robert Barnes is the new landlord. By 1898 Thomas Rough a gardener, owns it and his wife Catherine aged 59 is described as an Innkeeper, but within 3 years she is a widow running it on her own. The building is owned by Job Legg, A brwer from Bridport who was taken over by Palmers. In 1911 the 61 year old widow, Elizabeth has been married for 4 years to Arthur Hitchcock aged 35, a gardener. Jim Bridle, who had quite an active life in the navy before taking on the position of Landlord at The Royal oak in 1923. He was to retire in 1934, but continued to live at St. Helena in Higher Sea lane before his death in 1953. His daughter married the successful garage Proprietor and entrepreneur Billy Gear.
Jim was born in Lyme in 1870 and went to sea, when he was eleven and joined The Royal Navy four years afterwards. The first foreign soil on which he landed was St. Helena and he christened the house which he owned on his retirement."St.Helena " for this reason. He was made Leading Seaman in 1892 and Chief Petty Officer in 1902. At the Diamond Jubilee Review he was one of the field gun crew selected to take part in the Jubilee procession. He was in the ship when Marconi made the first successful long distance wireless from the Atlantic to Cornwall. In 1908 when in 'H.M.S.Hermes' off Durban they were the last people to see the 'Waratah' bound for England, as she was never heard of again. When at Simonstown he met and talked with Captain Scott who was on his last journey to the Antarctic in the 'Discovery". He served twenty five years in the Navy. Early in 1911 he went to Windsor Castle and took on the post of attendant at the Albert Memorial Chapel, where he had the honour of speaking to several of the Crown heads and royalty, including the Kaiser and the Archduke of Austria, a few weeks before he was assassinated. He always treasured two golden sovereigns which Queen Alexandra once gave him. On the outbreak of War in 1914 he was called up for service and was sent to "H.M.S.Birmingham" and was chief Boatswains mate and gunlayer of the after gun. He was complimented "by Admiral Beatty for good shooting. His narrowest escape was in the battle of Jutland when the "Birmingham" dodged the salvo of 14 inch shells for several hours. After the war he returned to the Albert Chapel for a short time and came to Charmouth in 1923 as land lord of 'The Royal Oak' until 1934, when he went to live at 'St. Helena'. He died in January 1953- A truly wonderful career.
Jim Bridle

 
Charmouth Royal Oak
Mr. J. Jerrard will offer fo sale by Auction on Friday 6th July next, at the Coach and Horses, in Charmouth aforesaid at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, subject to such conditions as will be then and there produced, and in the following or such other lots as shall be determined on at the time of the Sale - the following Valuable Freehold property.
Lot 1. - All that well- known and commodius Public House called the "Royal Oak", situate in the Lower Sea Lane, in Charmouth aforesaid, together with the coal yard, coal shed, and other outbuildings, now in the occupation of Mr. George Payne.
Lot 2. - All those two newly erected and substantial  cottages with excellent gardens, together with the pasture field, adjoining, in the respective occupations of Job. Hodder, James Read, and George Payne, situate in Lower Sea Lane aforesaid.
For viewing the premises apply to Mr. Thomas Carter, Charmouth,and for further particulars to the auctioneer, or Mr. andrew Tucker, Solictor, Charmouth and Lyme Regis. June 14th, 1867
"The Royal Oak" on the South side of the Street which has not always been a Public House. In about 1867 Richard Hodges built the Coast Guard Cottages in "Lower Sea Lane". An Inn, which occupied the site, was altered and the licence was transferred to a butcher's shop and house kept by John Wild (father of Henry Wild of "The New Inn") and "The Royal Oak" came into cxistance. Wild had occupied the western portion of these premises and his shop had been immediately adjacent. This was a separate cottage and later occupied for many years by the gardener of "Little Hurst". John Wild was the village crier. When boats came into Lyme with coal, he received I/- for calling through the Street,
Three cottages stood a long way back and were used for slaughter houses for Love the Butchers. On the 5th November they were set on fire by Simeon Fippin and Harry Cook. Fippin gave evidence against Cook ad had free pardon. Cook went to prison. They were very old houses and they thought they would have a bonfire. Behind war Memorial. Royal Oak originally occupied by the Wilds Cottage next door was a Butchers shop kept by John Wild.
 
Mable Bridle, Jim Bridle jnr. Jim Bridle snr.
The Royal Oak Champion Darts Team - 1937-8
Back Row: George Webster, Thomas,Tom Larcombe,Henley, Tom Grinter,George Saffrey & Fred Hutchings.
Front Row: Sid Grinter, ................, Harry Bowditch