The Fox Pub (Lilley’s) , Church Street

The Fox Pub 1920
The Fox Pub 1920

Teenage landlady

In 1871 the head of the household at Lilley’s beerhouse in Church Street, later known as The Fox, was Salome Lilley aged 15. With her brothers, Abraham, aged eight, and Henry, aged two, they managed the pub until Abraham became landlord. Their father, Obadiah, had left home, and their mother had died of fever. While the property was owned by the Lilleys, the beer was supplied first by Josiah Cole of the Queen’s Head, and after the 1872 Act, by then Colchester Brewing Company. In 1905 Greene King of Bury St. Edmunds bought the property from Abraham Lilley. Salome Lilley married the gardener from Boxted Hall.

In 1880 Herbert Thompson gives an account of a visit to The Fox in his book, Constable Country. Arriving at The Fox in the early evening, he left almost immediately because of the fighting and bad language at the bar. He visited St. Peter’s church, then returned for supper and a bed for the night. He was so impressed by a verse that hung above the bar that he included it in his book. It was addressed to non-paying customers –

Since man to man is so unjust
No man can tell who he can trust.
I have trusted many to my sorrow
So pay today and trust tomorrow.

The Fox closed in 1926.