Our members are participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for 2018 with the theme People of My Place. Today's entry is from Andrew Coles.
In November 1886, Christopher Wright, innkeeper of Bearstone in Shropshire, was found guilty of assault and fined 40s plus costs. He had been trying out a colt in a field with another man named Butler but the field was not theirs. They were asked to move on and after a heated argument, blows were exchanged. Although the Chairman of the court stated that the case was not as bad as first believed, it was clear a wrong had been committed. Now whether this had a long-term effect on relationships in Bearstone is unclear, but somehow four years later Wright ended up in Edgmond as landlord of The Lamb Inn and remained there until he died.
Christopher Wright was born in 1853 in the small coal mining community of Talk o’ th’ Hill, sometimes more simply known as Talke, within the parish of Audley in Staffordshire. The village is 5 miles NNE of Newcastle-Under-Lyme and part of the Staffordshire coalfield. His father was a miner (and also a grocer in the 1861 census), as were most of his brothers. Quite why Christopher ended up being the grocer in his early life, rather than going down the pit is unclear, although his father obviously had the shop as a second job and maybe it needed someone to carry this on.
In the summer of 1873 aged 20, Wright married Lavinia Lowe when she was just 17 years old. She was from Wolstanton just 4.5 miles away, and was the daughter of a grocer, so it was through the trade that they probably met. In 1881 they were still living in Audley with two children and he was still listed as a grocer and baker. But at some point in the next few years they must have decided to move into the innkeeping trade as shown by the newspaper reports from the incident in Bearstone already recited. In The Wellington Journal of 26 April 1890 at the Petty and Brewster Sessions, Wright is approved of the licence for the Lamb Inn to be transferred to him from the previous landlord. The inn is a fairly large one attached to a farm in Edgmond which you can clearly see in the aerial photograph. The building (sometimes known as the New Lamb Inn) had been altered and enhanced in 1872 by the owner, a certain Burton Borough Esq., who was one of the principal landowners in the area.
Wright and his wife Lavinia remained in Edgmond for the rest of their lives, bringing up 8 children (although sadly another 7 did not survive). The Lamb was well known throughout their tenancy as a site for auctions of farming equipment and stock, as well as a stop-off for the carrier business. In 1896 Wright’s love of horses, or at least gambling, was shown by his organisation of an equestrian event called the ‘Edgmond Pony and Galloway Races’. After WW1 the Inn was commonly referred to in local papers as the Lamb Hotel and is perhaps evidence of lofty ambitions. Wright was referred to as a farmer and Innkeeper in each census and the farm was clearly an important part of the business.
At some point (probably the late 1920’s judging by the architecture) Wright had a house built right next door to the inn called ‘Beulah’, and it was here that he died on 09 September 1930. Probate was granted the following year for nearly £7000, which is an amount of over £300,000 after adjustment for inflation to today’s money. His wife Lavinia died four years later. After humble upbringings in a mining community his financial legacy was impressive and is testament to the Victorian and Edwardian dream of self-fulfilment.