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The Catteshall Coffee Tavern, Farncombe, 1905
Catteshall Coffee Tavern, Farncombe

The coffee tavern or temperance hotel on the corner of Meadrow and Catteshall Road was open in March 1883. The Bar, Reading-room, and Smoking-room were already open, and hot and cold baths and beds were now available. Hot baths were to cost 8d., whilst a cold bath was 6d. However, there was a reduction on Wednesdays and Saturdays after four o'clock when the price was reduced by 2d per bath[1]. In July that year there was an advertisement for someone to be the "Management of either"; experienced persons were required, with the prerequisite that they had been total abstainers for many years[2]. The sign over the door in the image above showed that Tea, Coffee and Cocoa were served on the premises. Mr. Wiggins was the manager here in 1884[3].

A number of events were held at the coffee tavern. For example, in 1884 an employees' treat was hosted here for those who had built the Congregational schoolroom[4]. A similar event, for the people who had been employed in building new houses at Crownpits, took place in 1887. They had a "good repast" and were entertained by the owner of the houses they had built[5]. Earlier that year, after a cricket match involving the Godalming and Farncombe Total Abstinence Society the team, their opponents and their friends adjourned to the Catteshall Coffee Tavern. It was reported that they had an excellent tea provided by the manager, Mr. Young. About 40 people sat down to eat and they then spent the evening eating, singing etc.[6]. By 1891 the manager was a Welshman, William J. Painter[7] though his name was not mentioned two years later when the Meadrow Temperance Society provided tea for the men employed on the main drainage works. Afterwards the men and some of their wives went to the Mission Hall for an entertainment of songs, recitations and readings that were accompanied by magic lantern views which everyone was also said to have thoroughly enjoyed[8].

"Cycling", 5 August, 1893.
A foolhardy ride.
A cyclist arrived in Godalming, last Sunday, with a bugle, and afterwards continued on towards Portsmouth.
By some extraordinary oversight he left his bugle at the Catteshall Coffee Tavern, where it awaits his owner. How on earth he managed to cycle without it nobody knows, and grave fears are entertained for his safety.

Arthur Willis and his wife Mary had been at the Coffee Tavern for at least three years by 1901[9], employed as the manager and manageress[10]. Arthur became Hon Sec of the Meadrow Mission Hall Society in 1900[11] and was indirectly involved with the political scene. They later moved to 15 High Street where at Christmas 1909 he had "the best and choicest Xmas stock of Chocolates ..."[12].

Unfortunately, in late 1909 it had become apparent that the Coffee Tavern was under threat as there was a "Preliminary Announcement in the High Court of Justice. Chancery Division in the matter of H. Spicer & Co Ltd. ...." who owned the premises[13]. A week later the Coffee Tavern was for sale.

Sales by Auction.
Farncombe, near Godalming.
The substantial and specially designed Freehold Premises known as "The Catteshall Coffee Tavern,"
situate in a commanding position at the corner of London and Mead-roads, Farncombe,
containing 6 bed rooms, large bar, parlour, 2 kitchens, scullery and offices.

Also the Iron erection of Chapel adjoining, capable of seating 150 persons [named as Misn. Hall on 1916 OS map][14].

The "chapel adjoining", or Mission Hall, was then a single storey building with a porch and seen next to the coffee tavern on this image. Its outer walls appear to be constructed of corrugated iron. We can also see a partially white building a little further along. This was a pub called The Half Moon; it was knocked down and rebuilt in 1924 but is now offices[15].

The tavern was uninhabited at the time of the 1911 census, but Samuel Thomas Miller was here by 1913[16]. The property had slightly mixed fortunes during the First World War. The Army's Recruiting Officer was seeking information about a number of people whose whereabouts were unknown, including Ralph Gibbons, a 26 year old married man and a Traveller who seems to have been registered at the address but had already signed up[17]. Later the same year the manager, Samuel Thomas Gent (alias Miller), was summoned for having failed to require certain lodgers to fill up lodgers' registration forms. A Police Inspector had observed two absentee soldiers and two women entering the bar, who were then shown to an upstairs room. The inspector returned later that night and found the four in a room with a double bed, a single bed and a mattress on the floor! All were taken to the police station and fined[18].

Today the building is known as Sweetapple House (2024). The Sweetapple family had run the nearby Catteshall paper mill for many years: "At Cattshull, also, is a considerable manufacture of paper, conducted by Mr. Thos. Sweetapple"[19]. They also owned a land and a number of farms/properties in the locality[20]. Their surname appears in the town's Quaker records and some were buried at Binscombe.

Postcard of "The Cattashall [sic] Coffee Tavern, Farncombe". Published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate, No.53236. Printed in Saxony. First published in 1905. Unused.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Surrey Advertiser", 26 March 1883. Advertisement for the Catteshall Coffee Tavern, Meadrow Surrey.

[2] "ibid.", 16 July 1883. Coffee Tavern or Temperance Hotel.

[3] "Surrey Mirror", 26 April 1884. Situation Wanted, by young man, 25, in Coffee Tavern. Mr. Wiggins was named as the manager, but did not seem to be the young man seeking work.

[4] "ibid", 21 June 1884. The celebratory meal is mentioned on Godalming Bridge & Congregational Church.

[5] "ibid", 12 November 1887. Workmen's Supper. The Crownpits houses were owned by Mr. Urban.

[6] "West Surrey Times", 27 August 1887.

[7] "Kelly's Directory, 1891" and the 1891 census.

[8] "Surrey Advertiser", 22 November, 1893. Tea to navvies.

[9] "West Surrey Times", 20 May 1898.

[10] The 1901 census of Godalming shows he was born in Essex.

[11] "West Surrey Times", 15 Sept 1900. The mission was in the next building.

[12] Advertisement in the "West Surrey Times", 18 December, 1909. They had moved to Aldershot by 1911 (1911 census).

[13] "South London Press", 19 November, 1909. H. Spicer also owned the Farncombe Paper Mills, and about 11 acres of land. Some of that land was available for building. Douglass Young and Co. were to sell everything on Jan 26, 1910.

[14] "South London Press", 26 November, 1909. There were two advertisements in this issue, one for the Mill and the other for the Coffee Tavern.

[15] Janaway, John (2003) "Godalming and Farncombe Pubs and Breweries", Ammonite Books, Godalming, Surrey. ISBN 1-869866-14-2.

[16] Entry in Kelly's Directory, 1913.

[17] "West Surrey Times", 26 May 1917.

[18] "Surrey Advertiser", 4 December, 1916. Unregistered Lodgers. A case with undesirable features.

[19] Brayley, Edward Wedlake and others A topographical history of Surrey, Vol.5

[20] PCC Will of John Sweetapple of Cateshull, mealman, who bequeathed All his "messuages tenements mills Buildings Farms Lands Meadow and Pasture Land commonly known by the name of Catteshull Mills" to his children during their minorities (PROB11/1401/116, probate granted 10 Nov 1803).

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