ARCHIVES: Public Houses
The Lancaster Arms
Useful information was received from Mrs Helen Walker, daughter of Joseph Dymock and his second wife, who was born at the Lancaster Arms Hotel, as it then was.
Joseph was born in Little Brington, Northamptonshire, where his father worked for Captain Frederick Spencer on the Althorp estate. Joseph’s first employment was as a lamp man for Earl Spencer, so we are not sure how he ended up in Desford, but he built the house at the bottom of Station Road as a private residence. He had many ex-Yeomanry friends from Market Bosworth, Peckleton and Kirby Mallory, who stabled their horses at the Lancaster and caught the train to Leicester or Burton. They often had drinks or meals with the family, so Joseph decided that it would be useful to have a licence. With the help of Lord Spencer and William Everard, the brewer, a licence was granted and from 1870 the house became the exclusive Lancaster Arms Hotel. (The name chosen because of the association of Desford with the Duchy of Lancaster). Joseph also let horses and traps to passengers arriving at the station. His son, Horace, became manager of a brewery in Leicester, but predeceased Joseph. Joseph died in 1913 and is buried in St Martin’s churchyard with both his wives.
William Colver was landlord during the First World War, followed by Mrs Mary Ann Duffin, then Herbert Duffin (perhaps her son). We know nothing about the succeeding licensees Thomas Marvin, Harry Warwick, Mrs Violet Greirson, and Mrs Margaret Towers.
By the time of the 1965 trade directory, the Lancaster Arms had changed its name to the Flying Lancaster, with a Lancaster bomber painted on the sign as a reminder of Desford’s link with the RAF. Tommy Bennett, who was an ex-railway worker and also gravedigger, was landlord during this period. We have no record of when the name reverted to the Lancaster Arms, but the old name board ended up in Flixton Museum in Suffolk. Desford station closed to passengers in 1964, but the pub continued to thrive.
The Lancaster Arms was added to the Local Heritage List in 2019 and is designated as:
A good example of a village public house. Originally constructed as a private dwelling by/for Joseph Dymock c.1860 it was in use as a public house by 1870. Dymock also offered carting from Desford to the nearby railway station. It is illustrative of the social, economic and cultural development of Desford providing a typical function of a village expanding in size due to the development of the nearby Leicester to Swannington Railway. The public house name is associated with the title Duchy of Lancaster who were pre-enclosure landowners in Desford on behalf of the Crown. Architecturally the building was constructed with a range of styles and influences, interest remains in the steep pitched roof with predominantly clay tile covering and projecting gables, overhanging eaves and exposed purlins, tall chimney stacks, brick turret, and timber sash windows with large cills and stone heads. Artistic interest includes the Lancaster crest and hanging sign which communicates the use and history of the building and area. It provides a communal function for the village and is a source of identity and social interaction. Despite some modern alterations including decoration to the external walls the building retains a sense of completeness. The building has a visual prominence at the back edge of the road and can be singled out as a landmark within the local street scene