The Royal Arms

Opposite the NatWest bank are Nos. 92 and 93, formerly a spacious Elizabethan timber framed dwelling called Scarborough House where it is said John Lord Lumley entertained Queen Elizabeth in August 1591.

The Royal Arms building front view

He was succeeded in 1609 by his kinsman Sir Richard Lumley, created Lord Lumley of Waterford in 1628, and he by his grandson Richard, created Earl of Scarbrough in 1690. The house seems to have passed to James, seventh son of the earl, in 1721 and on his death, unmarried, to his nephew George Montague, Earl of Halifax. Mr. Weller is described as proprietor in 1750, hinting at the creation of the drinking establishment at No. 92 (1).

John Hudson, who was recorded as an Inn Keeper in the Subdeanry of Chichester in 1830, and as an Inn Keeper at the Dolphin in 1832, was proprietor by 1840 at 92 East Street. That year Queen Victoria appointed him by Royal Warrant ‘to the place of manufacture of milk punch to her Majesty’. King Edward VII also imbibed whilst staying at Goodwood House. Its ingredients included milk, lemon juice, sugar, and rum brewed for two years and was originally made by one Parker in the early part of that century. Such was the drink’s fame that the establishment soon became referred to as ‘Old Royal Punch House’ or simply the Punch House.

Old punch house
The Royal Arms matchbox

John Tapps was a wine merchant in East Street in 1851 and in 1861 was recorded additionally as the licensed victualler at the Royal Arms. That year George Adames, a commercial clerk, was also a wine merchant in East Street. By 1881 the wine merchant business was being run by the sons Thomas and Frederick as Adames Brothers following George’s death. By 1899 the brothers had split with Frederick continuing at No 92 and Thomas taking over as wine and spirit merchant at the Anchor.

Fred Adames Punch manufacturer advert 1897
1939 Old Punch meeeting to form groups for road vehichles for war effort

The Australian wine was said to be equal in flavour and strength to good port and could be tested by ‘sampling’. Yatara is in a region of South Australia famous for wine production. There is a record of a Mr David Shannon’s farm there in 1863 having some acreage planted with vines for some years. The first wine export to the United Kingdom to be formally recorded was in 1854 – 1,384 gallons (6,291 litres). The Australian wine industry was developed largely with the help of German immigrants skilled in winemaking.

In 1916 there is a reminder of the ‘lock down’ restrictions imposed during the Covid 19 pandemic when only takeaways were allowed. The Liquor Control Board restrictions of the time forced Messrs G S Constable to only permit the supply of beers, wines and spirits which had been previously ordered and paid for at their premises – which included the ‘Old Royal Milk Punch House’.

Extensive alterations and improvements were made to the Punch House by Constable around 1926 including the creation of a ‘cosy Tudor lounge and bar’, the work often revealing treasures from the past such as a Tudor wine vault (empty!), remains of an ancient square tower probably with views to the harbour and a lower part of the brickwork appearing to be Roman.

The Punch House formed a Tontine club in 1928 but added a feature – the Cork Club whereby each new member received a cork which they must always carry in their possession. Failure to produce it if challenged by a fellow member resulted in a small fine. The money thus collected was intended to be dividend among the members and added to their funds at the annual ‘share-out’. This was a baby offshoot of the ‘Frothblowers’ movement!

In 1933 it was noted that ‘our City seems to be the haunt of film stars, actors and actresses’. Gordon Walker, ‘an idol of Chichester cinema audiences’ chose The Royal Arms as his favourite rendezvous while Gracie Fields and George Graves used the Unicorn hotel for rest and refreshment.

1939 Old Punch meeeting to form groups for road vehichles for war effort

All owners of goods vehicles were invited to attend a meeting in March 1939 to discuss the forming of ‘groups’ under the Ministry of Transport Scheme for the organisation and control of road transport in time of war. At the end of May, particulars of 441,770 vehicles were registered in traffic area offices, estimated to represent 89 per cent. of all the goods vehicles in the country.

With the 2nd world war over, meetings could be of a more domestic nature as exemplified by the AGM of the Chichester and District Domestic Poultry Keepers’ and Rabbit Club in 1949 when it was noted that any applications for a bran allocation for the rabbits should be made to the recently appointed Club Secretary.

The pub closed in 2006 following a serious fire. Fortunately, the exquisite Tudor moulded ceilings survived the blaze, although they are now hidden underneath a suspended ceiling in the current shop. The building was listed Grade II in 1971.

(1) Information from British History


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