I HAVE always been interested in the pubs of Salisbury and I was interested to learn that back in 1552 there was a statute which limited the number of taverns in each town to two.

Salisbury, for some reason, had a special dispensation and was licensed to have three. This statute was later repealed but in 1709, the Inns and taverns in the city, having reached a total of 70, the corporation decided to reduce the number to 40.

It has been recorded, says WA Wheeler in Old Inns of Salisbury, as somewhat singular that after the laws for the better regulation of these houses had been passed the first infraction should have been by the landlady of The Silent Woman, who was indicted for keeping a disorderly house. This Inn has long gone but I wonder what the pub sign was?

According to Edwin Garman’s excellent book The Public Houses and Inns of Salisbury the original pub sign showed a decapitated woman carrying her head under her arm!

In Wareham there is still an inn called The Silent Woman and it is said that smugglers, fearful of capture by the ever-present excise men, silenced the landlady by cutting out her tongue – hence the name!

In Salisbury The Silent Woman used to be in Castle Street, and it remained so called until 1822. When the name was changed it is not apparently known, but it is pretty certain that the premises were those now under the name of the 'George and Dragon'.

Earlier this year, the George and Dragon had the distinction of being voted the cities favourite pub by Salisbury Journal readers and our picture shows their fine pub sign with the gallant knight attacking the dreaded beast.

n On Bank Holiday Monday, August 26, Timezone Tours will be hosting two ‘Bar Trek’ walking tours where you can find out more about our City pubs. Full details at - salisburyhistoryfestival.co.uk or telephone 078 2353 0451.