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45, High Street. The ‘Queen’s Head’

The ‘Queen’s Head’ is best remembered for the infamous events of 16th November, 1730, when the landlady Ann Wright was murdered, and of 25th March, 1731, when her murderer was hanged on the Tuesday Market Place and his accomplice was burned to death.

Pigot’s directory for 1822 lists M. Bennett as the licensee but this may be a mistake for M. Bennell.

c1822 – c1883 (Mary Bennell) (Susan Bennell)

In 1822 (Pigot) Mary Bennell was listed as the licensee of the Queen’s Head, High Street. Although there are no numbers in that directory, there is no doubt that the inn was at No. 45. She is listed here in 1830 (Pigot) and in 1836 (White).

Born Mary Mays in about 1777, she married William Bennell at St. Nicholas chapel on 12th September, 1811. Mary and William Bennell had at least three children, two of whom were living with her at the Queen’s Head in 1841:-

1) Susan (b. c1806 – d. 1885, aged 79). 2) Robert – a tailor – (b. c1811 – d1845, aged 44).

Another son, William Bennell jnr. was a printer in the town (b. c1811 – m. Sarah – d.1848/9).

William Bennell snr. has not been found in the 1841 census and appears to have died between about 1833 and 1838. No definite records of him in the town have been traced after his marriage.

Also staying at the Queen’s Head on census night in 1841 was Mary’s grandson, William Mayes Bennell, who was one of the four children of William jnr. and his wife Sarah:-

1) William Mayes Bennell – an accountant and Clerk to the Pilot & Harbour Moorings Commissioners – (b. c1833 – m. Ellen Jane Pettrey in 1859 – d. 1907, aged 74). 2) John Rayner (b. c1836). 3) Frederic Andrew – a meter / dock weigher – (b. 1842 – m. Louisa Wales in 1867 – d. 1906). 4) Robert Mayes (b. 1845).

William Bennell jnr. ceased working as a printer and became licensee of the ‘Recruiting Sergeant’ at 13, Saturday Market Place, Lynn, and was listed there in Kelly’s directory for 1846. After his death two years later, his widow Sarah took over the licence and was listed in Slater’s directory for 1850 and White’s for 1854. Sarah remarried in 1853, and her husband, Thomas Reynolds, took over the licence and was listed in Harrod’s directory for 1863. Thomas Reynolds died in 1868, aged 56, and Sarah eventually moved into St. Mary’s Hospital (Gaywood Almshouses), where she died in 1893, aged 81.

The grandson of William Bennell jnr. and Sarah, Frederick William Bennell (b. 1876), became a confectioner (see No. 114, High Street). His daughter, Doris Louise Bennell (b. 1903), married Harry Trenowath (see Nos. 108-110, High Street).

Mary Bennell died in March 1842, aged 65 and the licence passed to her daughter Susan..

Susan Bennell, who never married, was the licensee of the Queen’s Head for about forty years.

1883 – c1891 (John Joseph Lowe)

In 1883, John Joseph Lowe is registered as the licensee.

Born in Lynn in about 1826. He married Matilda Burcham in Lynn in 1849 and he was working as a baker in 1851, when they were living at St. James Place in the town.

John was the son of Charles & Lydia Lowe, who were living in Brook Street, Aylsham in 1841. Charles and Lydia had at least four children:-

1) Charles II (b. c1821 – m. Ann Elizabeth Burton in 1841/2 – d. 1871, aged 49). 2) James (b. c18260). 3) John Joseph – see below – (b. c1826 – m. Matilda Burcham in 1849 – d. 1898, aged 72). 4) Francis (b. c1831).

Charles Lowe I appears to have died in 1847/8.

John and Matilda Lowe had two daughters:-

1) Frances / Fanny (b. 1850 – m. Thomas William Blomfield in 1872 – d. 1933/4, aged 83). 2) Harriett Ann (b. 1853/4 – m. George Holdcroft in 1876 – d. 1932, aged 78).

John gave up the bakery and became innkeeper of the Black Horse in Chapel Street, Lynn, where the family lived until John’s death in May, 1898, aged 72. Matilda held the licence of the Black horse for a short time after her husband’s death.

During the time that John Lowe held the licences for the Black Horse and the Queen’s Head, he lived at the former and his sister Harriet lived at the latter.

John Lowe brought his sister Harriet Holdcroft into the business as manageress of the restaurant at the Queen’s Head.

John Joseph Lowe died in 1898, aged 72, and Matilda died in 1902, aged 76.

Harriett Holdcroft became the next licensee of the Queen’s Head (see below).

c1891 – 1902 (Harriett Ann Holdcroft)

Harriett Ann Lowe married chemist George Holdcroft in 1826 and moved to London, where their daughter Ethel May was born in 1878. They then moved to Beccles in Suffolk, where two more daughters were born; Alice Burcham (b. 1879), and Violet Lowe (b. 1881/2 – d. 1892/3, aged 11). Another child died young.

George Holdcroft is a bit of a mystery and has not been located in any census return. In 1891, Harriet was living here with her three daughters and her ‘condition’ is recorded as ‘married’. In 1901 it is ‘widow’ and in 1911, when she was housekeeper to the deputy town clerk of Docking, it is ‘married’.

Harriet died in 1932, aged 78.

c1902 – 1903 (Arthur Edward Kirby)

 1903 – 1904 (Edwin John Burt)

 1904 – 1907 (William Elliott)

 1907 – c1921 (William Rayner) (Sarah Rayner)

 c1921 – 1930 (Frederick John Jex Burrell)

1930 – 1933 (Ernest Ellis Dazley)

 1933 – 1945 (Walter Edward Williamson)

 1945 – 1947 (William Freer Hydes)

 1947 – 1951 (Edwin Arthur Sillis)

During the war years, Eddie Sillis was the publican, and became the licensee through until 1951.

Edwin Arthur Sillis was born on 21st January, 1920 in Lynn and worked as a dock labourer. He played football at right back for the Linnets in his youth, and had a trial for Tottenham Hotspur in 1938.

During the Second World War there were many American servicemen, particularly airmen, in Lynn and they used to frequent the Queens Head. Through his contacts with them, Eddie Sillis was able to obtain many black market goods. After the war, Eddie Sillis established a number of very successful local businesses.

1951 – 1953 (John Turner)

 1953 – 1959 (Jack Tozer)

 1959 – 1960 (John Kendrick Maw)

 1960 – c1973 (Dorothy Perkins Ltd.)

In June 1960 planning permission was granted for the demolition of the Queens’ Head, and for the site to be redeveloped for a new shop for Dorothy Perkins Ltd. The demolition was undertaken by Cork Bros. Ltd., of King’s Lynn, and the new shop opened on 12th May, 1961.

The ladies’ fashion chain of Dorothy Perkins started out in 1909 as ‘Ladies Hosiery and Underwear Ltd.’ By 1919, the company had 12 shops, and introduced their five shilling range of blouses.

In 1939, the trading name was changed to ‘Dorothy Perkins Ltd.’, the name being chosen by the company director’s wife after her favourite pink rambling rose. The company had 75 shops at this date.

During the first half of the 1960s, the business expanded rapidly across the country and opened its 250th shop in 1966. In 1977 its largest branch was opened, on London’s Oxford Street.

Dorothy Perkins was acquired by the Burton Group in 1979 – later becoming part of the Arcadia Group plc.

Today there are about 600 UK stores, together with outlets in many other countries, and an online shop.

 c2007 – 2017 (Game)

The computer games shop Game has been here for around ten years.