. . . . . . . . Hough Mill open 2-5pm Sundays to end of September . . . . . . . . . .

Bull’s Head

The former Bull’s Head public house is on the western side of a bend in Main Street.  It is opposite the Women’s Institute’s community garden (look for the white railings) which is on the site of the former cattle sheds belonging to Manor Farm.

The arch to the left of the building was to admit cattle to the slaughterhouse as at one time meat was also shown at the Inn.

When Wyggeston’s Hospital (owners of the manor of Swannington since 1521) re-established the Court Leet in the mid 19th century, it used to meet at Manor Farm then cross the road for dinner at the Bull’s Head.

Bull’s Head House is now a private residence.

An example of how times have changed is the account of the parson’s wife who parked outside the Bull’s Head on the 1st July 1939 to buy a bottle of beer for her husband.  Eleanor Marjorie Colton (from Walton-on-Trent) was fined five shillings (25 pence!) by Coalville magistrates because her car rolled down the road and crashed into a wall.  The lady’s main concern was that villagers would think she was a regular pub goer.  The story was printed in the Daily Mirror on the 29th July 1939, read  Parson’s wife went to inn

The Bull's Head when an inn
Left Stone House, then Belmont Terrace / Bull Row, then the Bull's Head 2010
Manor Farm prior to the demolition of the cow sheds. The Stone House, Belmont Terrace and the Bull's Head are on the other side of the road.
Bulls Head May 2020

Landlords / Landladies

1841-1851 Moses Williamson – The 1841 census lists Moses as an Innkeeper, the 1851 as a brewer and innkeeper.  Both with his second wife Elizabeth, they don’t seem to have had children.  The 1849 Post Office Directory lists Moses Williamson at the Bull’s Head.

1863 William Henson – Listed in White’s Directory.

1871 Samuel Clarke – The 1871 census lists the occupants as:

  • Samuel Clerke, 46, Inn Keeper, born Thurcaston, Leicestershire
  • Sarah Clerke, wife 28, born
  • Henry Edger, son, 1 month, born Swannington


1875-81 Thomas Irons – Barker & Co’s 1875 directory lists Thomas Irons at the Bull’s Head.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Gazette – Saturday 15 June 1878 – SWANNINGTON WHITSUNTIDE FESTIVITIES – On Whit-Monday, the members of the Pride of the Valley Lodge had their annual dinner at their lodge house, the Bull’s Head Inn, Swannington. There were 27 sat down to dinner, the quality of which fully sustained the credit of Host Irons.

The 1881 census list the occupants as:

  • Thomas Irons, 69, Cordwainer, born Swannington
  • Sarah Irons, wife, 64, born Swannington
  • Thomas Wileman, boarder, 32, Coal Miner, born Swannington

Note – A Cordwainer is a Shoe Maker.  Thomas died in 1882.

1884 John Brooks – Ashby-de-la-Zouch Gazette – Saturday 06 September 1884 – The following licences were transferred:- Bull Inn, Swannington, to John Brooks ;

1886 Thomas Irons – See clubs and societies below.  This was probably the son of the the shoemaker.  Censuses 1861-1911 show Thomas as a coal miner.  Perhaps there was a period when he fancied a change or maybe coal mining was in the doldrums and innkeeping was an opportunity.

1901-1912 John George Hough –  John George Hough had been a butcher’s apprentice in 1891, before moving on to be the landlord of the Bull’s Head for at least a decade as he is recorded as being there on the 1901 census.  He was the son of John Hough the land steward at Coleorton Hall and owner of Thringstone Smock Mill (now Hough Mill).

The 1911 census records that the publican was John George Hough (39) who had been married for 16 years to Annie (39).  They had six children of whom five still lived with them.  Leonard (14) was an errand boy at a coal mine, James (11), George Brentnall (9) and Joseph Horice (7) were in school, a pleasure that still awaited Harry Chester (4).   Living with the Houghs were Annie’s mother Ann Brinsley (78) a pensioner and lodger Richard Sutton (56) a navvy at the sewage works.

Kelly’s Directory 1912 lists John George Hough.

1925 David White – Listed in Kelly’s Directory.

1928-1960s Harry and Hilda Cresswell – Harry Cresswell Listed in Kelly’s Directory 1928.

The 1939 register records that Harry Cresswell was the landlord in 1939, he was also a coal miner and A.R.P. warden (air raid precautions).  Harry’s wife Hilda was listed as the landlady.  They were the last licensees before the pub closed in the 1960’s and it became a house.

Too Many Pubs?

It seems that in 1908 the police were intent on reducing the numbers of licensed premises in the area.  At the Ashby Brewster Sessions they objected to the renewal of the licence of the Bull’s Head Inn, Swannington, which was in the possession of the executors of the late Joseph Wheatley.

Giving evidence Superintendent Lockton said that the population of Swannington was 1,737 and that there were 10 licensed houses of one sort or another in the village.  He said that the Railway Inn was 62 yards away, The Fountain 343 yards and Mr Atkins’ wholesale premises 108 yards distant and therefore by implication that there were too many licensed premises in such a small area.

Mr Musson appearing for the licensee said that the Bull’s Head and the Railway were in the same ownership and the police were applying to take away the licence of much the better of the two.  In support of that proposition he said that the Wyggeston Hospital trustees always took lunch at the Bull.  All the cases brought by the police were referred to the compensation authorities but the Bull’s Head continued as a pub for many more years.

Clubs and Societies

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Gazette – Saturday 15 June 1878 – SWANNINGTON WHITSUNTIDE FESTIVITIES – On Whit-Monday, the members of the Pride of the Valley Lodge had their annual dinner at their lodge house, the Bull’s Head Inn, Swannington.  There were 27 sat down to dinner, the quality of which fully sustained the credit of Host IronsMr. W. Sharp was voted to the chair, the vice-chairman being Mr. Solomon Robinson.  The chairman gave the usual loyal and patriotic toasts in language most eloquent and spirit-stirring, and they were heartily responded to.  After capital songs by Mr. John Atkins and Wm. Causer, Mr. John Atkins proposed the health of their esteemed chairman.  He said Mr. Sharp was a gentleman whom they all delighted to know, not only as a neighbour, but as a flue old English gentleman.  Mr. Sharp, on replying, was received with rapturous applause.  Song – “England the land of the free.”  The chairman then gave the health of the host and hostess.  Host Irons suitably acknowledged the compliment.  The remainder of the evening was spent in the most enjoyable manner.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Gazette – Saturday 26 June 1886 – SWANNINGTON – ANNUAL BREAKING-UP CLUB – On Whit Tuesday the members of this Club held their annual festival at the Bull’s Head Inn, Swannington. Dinner was provided in excellent style by Mr. T. Irons, landlord, about 24 sitting down.

After dinner Mr. F. Wheatley occupied the chair, supported by Mr. F. Hallam as vice-chairman.  The usual loyal toasts having been given from the chair and duly honoured, the accounts of the Club were read and received with great satisfaction, this Club being the most successful of its kind in the neighbourhood this year.  Several other toasts were given, including “The Honorary Members,” and the remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent in conviviality, Messrs. Smith, Brewin, and Wardle adding to the humour and enjoyment of the meeting.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Gazette – Saturday 11 June 1887 – ODDFELLOWS ANNIVERSARY – The Leicestershire Seraphic Order of Oddfellows, Flower of Freedom Lodge, held at the Bull’s Head, Swannington, celebrated their annual festival on Whit Monday. After the usual routine of business, the members assembled for dinner, when about thirty sat down to a splendid spread in the hostess’s usual style.  After dinner the toast of the Queen and all the Royal Family was heartily drunk with musical honours.  The health of the surgeon, Dr. Lambert Houghton, with an acknowledgment of his good services during the year, was also drunk with musical honours.

Mr. W. Wardle, violinist, and Mr. John Bird, harpist, contributed much to the afternoon’s enjoyment.  The lodge is in a very prosperous condition, and the report given by the secretary gave great satisfaction.  Song, toast, and sentiment were the order of the proceedings.  The health of the hostess was heartily drunk for her good catering on this as on all other missions.  The meeting broke up at an early hour.