The Queen’s Head, Straight Road

The Queen’s Head
The Queen’s Head

Mr. Cromer Cole built the property in 1851 as a farmhouse, which had quite a sizeable parcel of land adjoining, reclaimed from Boxted Heath. With the decline in farming fortunes he needed to find another source of income. His father, Josiah Cole, was an expert brewer, and so, in 1857, Cromer applied to the local magistrates for a licence to brew and retail beer. Part of the barn was turned into a brewhouse and the business became very prosperous with patrons coming from far and wide to sample Josiah’s special beers.

Josiah Cole’s recipe for strong beer:

  • Take 12 bushels of malt to the hogshead of water.
  • Pour the water hot but not boiling onto the malt.
  • Infuse fore three hours covered, mash in the first half hour and let it stand the remainder of the time.
  • Run it in the hops previously infused in water at the rate of ¾lb of hops to 1 bushel of malt.
  • Boil with wort for 2 hours from the start of the boil.
  • Cool a pailful to add 2 quarts of yeast which will prepare it for putting to the rest when ready the next day but, if possible, put together the same night.
  • Tun as usual. Cover the bung hole with paper when the beer has done working and when it has stopped have ready 1½lbs of hops dried before the fire, put in bung hole and fasten it up.
  • Let it stand 12 months in the cask before drinking.
  • Beer is best if brewed in March.

Although Cromer called his property The Queen’s Head, it was often called simply Cromer’s. At one time, beer brewed at the Queen’s Head was sold to both The Fox and Butcher’s Arms pubs.

Following Cromer Cole’s death, his son-in-law, Robert Leech, became landlord. When the licensing Act of 1872 became law, the beer was supplied first by the Colchester Brewing Company of East Hill, Colchester, then by Oliver’s of Sudbury and eventually by Greene King of Bury St. Edmunds. After the death of Robert Leech, his son-in-law, Henry Denny, became landlord for the next 26 years. His widow, Mary Ann Denny, held the licence for a time before it passed to her son-in-law, Harvey Carter. Harvey’s son, Douglas, is co-author of Boxted Book.

The Fruitpicker’s Pub

The outstanding period of prosperous trade for the Queen’s Head was in the 1920/30’s when fruitpickers from London came to work in the orchards of Mr. Dennis Carter at Hill Farm. The horse meadow alongside the pub was opened, and beer was served through the windows of the pub. Over two hundred Londoners crowded the approaches, and for the fruitpicking season, the Queen’s Head had a full lorry load of beer every week.

A second era of prosperity came during the American occupation of the local airfields during World War II. Although the supplies of beer were rationed, it was possible, with some local brewing knowledge, to supplement supplies.

After the war the pub obtained a licence to serve wines and spirits and trade remained good until the coming of television. Customers came out later and later, and it was only at weekends that the pub was busy.

The drink drive legislation restricted trade still further but it was the Public Health Acts of the 1960’s, which specified indoor toilets and washing facilities for all public houses that proved its end. The Queen’s Head only had cesspool drainage and the space needed to build indoor toilets would have reduced the size of the drinking area to uneconomic proportions.

In 1970, it was decided to close and de-licence the property and sell it as a private house which later became a nursing home. The original house has since been demolished.