Long, long, ago it is believed there stood a public house in Britford called the Ship Inn. It probably saw the local brew prepared by the gallon and would have been used by the agricultural community around.

In due course the Ship Inn vanished but its sign, tentatively dated as circa 1820, found its way into the possession of Salisbury, South Wilts and Blackmore Museum which was situated in St Ann’s Street, Salisbury.

The name on the sign is Thomas Cookman and in 1849, one of his relatives Ann Cookman, was reported in the Salisbury Journal as having found the body of Ann Vincent floating face down in the river. The body was taken to Britford Church and the jury returned a verdict of “accidentally drowned.”

At some point the Ship Inn premises were used as a bakery until advancing age and, no doubt, the pressure of mass-producing bakeries caused the proprietor to close down. By around 1950 the premises had become derelict.

Britford began to see many changes, including ownership, and eventually the property passed into the hands of Mr J S Whittle, of Avon Farm, Christchurch.

It seems that Mr Whittle rehabilitated some of the old properties including the bakery which was keenly taken in hand. His first task was to employ Mr Harrison and Mr Buckley, thatchers of Woodfalls, to strip the old long straw thatch from the roof – it was five feet deep in places – and replace with new roof timbers and Norfolk reed. New upper windows were then put into place and the entire interior was also reconstructed.

There seems to be very little information regarding the history of the Ship Inn, Britford and I would be delighted if anyone can enlighten me further.