At many of my local history talks I will get asked "which is the oldest pub in Thatcham?" Is it the Chequers? Is it the Kings Head? Let us assume Thatcham includes Cold Ash, Ashmore Green, Colthrop and Crookham. The answer really depends on a number of factors.
Firstly remember the age of the building does not necessarily reflect the age of the pub. For example the Plough is a 17th century building but tracing it as a pub before 1795 is difficult and might be because it was not a pub before then or simply I have yet to find the right source. Conversely the Kings Head is thought to be a 17th century building but it is believed it dates earlier than that. My current research shows evidence that this might have been the King's Arms with records going back to the early 1600's. This building then either being totally rebuilt or extensively altered to become the King's Head. Likewise the Queens Head changed to The Shah and back again.
The original Crown Inn also dates to at least the early 1600s if not before and similar with the White Hart. Then there is the difference between Inns, Taverns, Beerhouses and so on. The New Inn is one that many think of as old, but think about the name, does this not imply if this is the NEW INN that there was another older inn? Possibly the older in could have been the Bell but that is a complete guess. In the Colthrop and Midgham border is the Green Dragon which I know little about. Cold Ash appears to have a lot of Beer Houses.
The question "which is the oldest pub in Thatcham?" is suddenly more difficult to answer than first appears. The answer depends on exactly what you meant to ask:
- Which is the oldest pub still trading?
- Which is the oldest pub using the original name?
- Which has been in continuous use the longest?
- Which is the oldest pub building?
- Which are the oldest Inn, Tavern and Beerhouse?
The King's Head appears to have been trading since the early 1600's but was rebuilt and renamed; The Crown Inn is similar but closed before the end of the 19th century.
So I am afraid the question remains one that is difficult to answer. But what I will do is to post more histories on some of the establishments.