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Summary:

The Royal Exchange has been providing alcohol locally since c1841. It has also been know as the Spotted Cow, and is now the Downgate, 13 Down View.

Photo Gallery:

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- The Downgate, Aug 2001

- Royal Exchange, c1910

- Royal Exchange, 1936

- Royal Exchange, 1944

- The Downgate, 14 Jul 2017

Timeline:

This small inn standing at the main gate to the Hungerford Port Down Common, started life as one of the many beer retailers in the early 1800s. Indeed it held a licence restricted to the sale of beer only until 1949, when it became a beer and wine house until 1958, when a full licence was granted.

The Poor Rate Book of 1836 shows a Thomas Washbourne was the tenant of William Mellis in a "house, garden and malthouse in Cow Lane". This is probably (but not confirmed as) the first record of this property.

The earliest known record is in the 1841 census when William Pontin is recorded as innkeeper in Cow Lane (later renamed Park Street). The 1847 Kelly Directory has William Pontin as landlord in Cow Lane.

1851 (CS) William Pontin (69), Beershop keeper; Lydia Pontin (62).

William Pontin's name recurs in several directories, including the 1854 Billing, when he is beer retailer at the "Spotted Cow " in what is now named "Park Street". The last entry in his name is the 1864 Billing Directory.

(1868 (Edward Cussey's Directory of Berk & Oxon) Augustis Frederick Hidden, beer retailer, Park Street. Could this be at the Spotted Cow?)

By the 1871 Census it had been re-named the "Royal Exchange", and William Dyke (ex The Plough and Red Lion!) was publican.

Why was it called "The Royal Exchange"?

This is unclear at present. The first Royal Exchange (between Cornhill and Threadneedle Street in the City of London) was founded by Sir Thomas Gresham, and opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1570. It was replaced by a larger building which opened in 1669, but this was destroyed by fire in 1838. The present Royal Exchange in London was opened by Queen Victoria in 1844. None of these dates appears relevant to the use of The Royal Exchange as an inn name. There are many such names around the country - one (in Deal) dating from at least 1751!

Timeline, continued:

In the 1877 Kelly Thomas Jessett was a beer retailer in Park Street, and his widow Mrs Anne Jessett in 1895.

1893 (from an Abstract of Title) "..a beer house formerly called The Spotted Cow. Tenant Thomas George Jessett, who was followed by his widow Mrs Anna Maria Jessett until c1930.

The 1900 Cosburn confirms that this was at the Royal Exchange, and her name is recorded in the 1911 and 1915 Kelly.

An Abstract of Title for the property, dated 1893, refers to the "Royal Exchange" as "a beer house formerly called the Spotted Cow". The tenant at the time was Thomas George Jessett, who is recorded in the 1924 and 1928 Kelly Directories as a beer retailer in Park Street . Thomas Jessett was followed by his widow Mrs Anna Maria Jessett, who held the licence until about 1930.

In 1925 Messrs Ushers acquired the pub and from the time Mrs Jessett left, a manager called Cook was installed until 1934, when the licence was taken by George Robinson. The rent was £8 per annum. George Robinson is recorded as licensee in the 1935 Kelly.

When George Robinson died in 1938, the licence was taken over by his widow Mrs Ruth Robinson until 1973, when her son-in-law Claude Brind took over until his death in 1979.

Between 1978-87 the landlords were Tony and Evelyn Scarlett, and in 1987 Steve and Margaret Collett.

In the late 1980s, the Royal Exchange was renamed "The Downgate" by Derrick and Pat Green who had moved from London. Locally it was often know simply as "The Gate".

Until c1994 it was run by Colin Davis and Andy Vine?

In the past the pub has been owned by a succession of breweries, including the Phoenix Brewery of Newbury, South Berks Brewery, Ushers Wiltshire Brewery (1925) and Watney Mann. In March 1994 it was bought by Arkell's Brewery of Swindon, who restored it to a traditional hostelry.

25 April 1994: Re-opened with David and Helen Hughes as licensees.

8 Mar 2004: David and Janet Yates.
2009: The Downgate was the only pub in Hungerford in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
8 Mar 2014: David and Janet celebrate 10 years at The Downgate (see NWN report)

Jul 2017: Lauren Weir.

See also:

- "Not last orders quite yet", NWN 6 Aug 2015