A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
The Holly & Laurel Emporium is steeped in rich history, beginning as The Sawyer’s Arms, a licensed house for the sale of beer. It contained a tap room, a parlour, a wash house with brick oven, a large beer store room and three bed chambers. Outside was a small yard and garden, in which were a compact brewery, pin alley and a stable. The premises was occupied by Edward Pledge for £10 per annum. The other tenants noted were Solomon John Pledge and Frederick Pledge as well as their brewer, Henry Mitchell. Maps from 1873 show the public house and we still have an original stoneware jug from 1848, bearing the name S. J. Pledge.
The beginnings of The Holly & Laurel were Built on the edge of Holmwood Common, the area was notorious for its highwaymen and smugglers, sheep stealing and thieving and the Holly was the local watering hole. Even after a toll road was built in 1755, linking Horsham and Dorking and increasing the level of policing in the area, this criminal behaviour continued although it is known that with the presence of so many highwaymen in the area, they were often disappointed, more likely to chance upon a fellow criminal than a traveller with gold in his pocket. The road adjacent to Horsham Road saw the hangman’s gallows above it, with highwaymen being strung up over the road.
Holmwood train station was built in 1867 and this really brought tourism to the area, creating more custom for the public houses, tearooms and hotels of Holmwood as well as more wealthy buildings and families living in the area. The Holly & Laurel Hotel stop would have been busy for almost a century with at least hundreds of stopping horses here per day. They journeyed between West or South-West London and Brighton and/or direct towns between the two, mainly Epsom, Leatherhead, Dorking and Horsham.
The First and Second World Wars dominated the early part of the 20th Century and this was no less true of The Holly & Laurel. On Wednesday 12th August 1914, the Great War local recruitment committee made its way from Coldharbour, through Beare Green to The Holly car park, where a large group convened to hear HG Longman (Holmwood resident and member of the Longman publishing family) and Cuthbert Heath of Anstie Grange speak in favour of enlisting.
The latter was loudly heckled by a disapproving and inebriated patron of the pub. With rising motor popularity in the 1930s to 50s, the Holly & Laurel became a key stopping point for motorists and coaches on the same London to Brighton journey. “Doodlebug” V-1 flying bombs were a frequent occurrence, a plane crashed right on the common and the green was also used to teach soldiers how to drive tanks. The Americans and Canadian soldiers were based at three locations around the village and at nights, they would drive their Jeeps down to The Holly & Laurel to have a few drinks. Making their own small contribution to the early Drink Drive Campaign, the self-named “Holmwood Gang” would let the handbrakes off and push the Jeeps over to the common on the other side of the road. With the entire village in blackout, the soldiers were unable to find their vehicles and were forced to walk home!
The surrounding buildings of The Holly & Laurel are also fascinating. From 1901-1921, the Dutch House (temporarily named Mascot during their stay) was home to Frederick and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, the latter of whom was a social campaigner and activist in the Suffragette movement. Many of the other prominent names in the movement visited the house, including the Suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, and much Suffragette work was done here.
The Sundial house on the other side of our coach house was built on the site of two ancient cottages by the Pethick Lawrences in 1903 to form a country home for Emmeline’s Esperance club for working class London girls. They would bring parties of young women and their children for breaks in the healthy air of Holmwood, with games, camping and bonfires on the common.
During the latter half of the 20th Century, The Holly & Laurel continued to be a “locals” haunt, with patrons enjoying the cricket frequently played on the green on the other side of the, then, single carriageway road. The pub was even frequented by certain members of the Simpson family! In 1992, as a Charrington’s pub, the Holly & Laurel finally closed its doors as a public house and became “Hollys”, a bar, which sympathetically sold a number of real ales. In 1994, the Gourmet Pizza Company took up residence for three years until 1997 and it has now been under our ownership for 19 years!
When you visit, be sure to see the old photos of the old coach house dotted around the showroom!
Images courtesy of Goodness Gracious.co.uk