Three Centuries of History Behind George & Devonshire

Landlady Linda Shields investigates her pub's long and colourful past

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Image of Chiswick Village 1903 by Evacustes A Phipson reproduced with the permission of Chiswick Public Library

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The George & Devonshire in 2007

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In 1700, Thomas Mawson, a local brewer, bought a 17th century building and two cottages in Burlington Lane for £70. This building, originally known as the George, is now known as the George and Devonshire public house.

By 1826, the name Devonshire had been added to the pub name and the arms of the Dukes of Devonshire are shown on its hanging sign.

In the 18th century, smugglers used to row up the Thames with their contraband goods of rum and spirits and at a given signal pull over towards the huddle of fisher cottages between the river and the medieval church of St Nicholas.

Somewhere among those tiny houses was the opening of a tunnel which led under the church to the George and Devonshire.

There the boats would be unloaded and the goods carried up a secret passage, probably still remaining, which led into the cellar. Evidence of this passageway can be seen today in the cellar of the George and Devonshire with two steps leading up to a bricked up doorway!

The outside of the building has changed very little since that time but, about seventy years ago, a lounge was added. At the same time some old stables at the back of the building were knocked down and replaced with a large function room and a car park.

In 1915, the old stables at the back of the building housed CW Payne and Sons who were fruiterers, greengrocers and removal contractors.

In 1951, the pub was included in the list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest. The George and Devonshire is a Grade II listed building.

Adjoining the George and Devonshire is Chiswick Square, possibly the smallest square in London. It consists of two houses on each side and historic Boston House, all dating back to the 1680s.

Until 1957, at 6 Burlington Lane there was a café and tobacconist’s shop on the other side of the George and Devonshire. It was run by a well known character, Mrs Byford. When the building was demolished, archaeologists found a large amount of pottery dating from the 17th and 18th century.

The George and Devonshire is in the village of Old Chiswick which dates from early times. Spears, arrow heads and several pieces of Roman pottery have been found in the Thames off Chiswick.

Linda Sheilds

October 2, 2007