The Fox Palmers Green in 1899

This article by Stephen Gilburt was published by the Enfield Society in newsletters 218 (Summer 2020) and 219 (Autumn 2020).

The Fox was originally a cottage at the end of Fox Lane in the former hamlet of Palmers Green. It was named after the Fox family who were farmers living in the area in the 14th century. It is first mentioned in a will of 1683 and the first landlord is recorded in 1716.

Between 1861 and 1967 the licensees were members of the Davey family. Robert Davey, who was the licensee from 1861, started a two-horse omnibus service from the Fox and on Sundays used a horse-drawn wagonette to provide a home delivery service of ale. His wife Belinda was the licensee from 1870. Their son Arthur, born at the Fox in 1867, was the licensee from 1891 and for 18 years from 1901 was an elected member of Southgate Urban District Council. After 1914 Arthur Davey and his son-in-law Leo Whalen were joint licensees until Arthur’s death in 1932.

For more information see: A–Z of Enfield Pubs Part Two by Gary Boudier 2002 and Once upon a time in Palmers Green by Alan Dumayne 1988. These may be consulted at Enfield Local Studies Library and Archives, which also supplied these photographs taken in 1899. They provide a valuable record of the appearance of a late Victorian public house, before it was rebuilt in 1904.

The Fox shown here in 1899, was a 17th century two-storey brick building with sliding sash windows. It was entered through a portico on the Green Lanes side. A sign and a picture of a fox were illuminated by lanterns fixed to the exterior of the building. On warm days drinks would be served through a hatch to customers who would be able to use the outdoor tables and benches. There was also a sweet dispensing machine.
In 1904 The Fox was demolished and replaced with a more methodically laid out and grander three storey red brick Edwardian building. It had a corner turret, projecting half-timbered gables and pargetting (exterior relief plaster decoration) in a band between the ground and first floors. The photograph is from a postcard sent from The Fox in 1909 to Marie Davey, Arthur’s daughter, when she was on holiday on the Isle of Wight. The building has now been gutted and 54 apartments are being constructed on the site, with several in the shell.
To the right of the entrance in the original building was the serving area with two hatches to the bar area and one to the outside. Beer pumps, jugs, pewter tankards, glasses and bottles of beer can be seen.
At the back of the serving area was the landlord’s parlour with wooden panelled walls. There is an open fireplace in the wall dividing the parlour from the serving area, which can be seen through the doorway on the left. The mantel above the fireplace has an elaborately decorated cloth hanging, with vases of flowers in front of a large mirror. There are also leather covered settees and a round table. The room is lit by an ornate brass gaselier.
The wood panelled public bar is simply furnished with tables and benches on a bare wooden floor. There is a large fireplace and pictures on the walls. The room is lit from a central gas jet.
The kitchen has plates and small dishes stored on the worktop, cups and mugs hanging from hooks and larger dishes and other containers stored on higher shelves. A food preparation table is shown pulled out on the right. A long roller towel is hanging down from the kitchen door. On the left is the cooking stove.
The large public function room has patterned wallpaper with panelling below. Around the wall are pictures and mounted birds. The fireplace has a mirror above and the room is furnished with tables, chairs, a settee and a piano. The floor has bare boards. The room is lit by a plain gaselier.
This living room has an open fireplace decorated with a valance (a cloth hanging from the mantel). Curtains could be drawn to hide the grate although these might be a fire risk. Above the fireplace is a large mirror. The room is furnished with a settee, dining table, chairs and a piano. A large wall unit, seen reflected in the full length mirror between curtains, is flanked by two candleabra. The floor is carpeted.
The principal bedroom has patterned wallpaper with large pictures on the wall. The fireplace has a mantel shelf with flowers and pictures in front of a mirror. There is a fine brass bedstead with a high quality eiderdown, a chest of drawers and a small table. The room is lit by a brass gaselier. The floor is uncarpeted except for a rug in front of the fireplace.
The simple candlelit servants bedrooms each with two single beds, have plain bed linen and a washstand with jugs and basins.
The Davey family and staff can be seen in the backyard with chickens. Buildings around the backyard included a skittle alley, sheds, stables for up to eleven horses, a coach house, a storeroom and outside toilets. There was also a licensed tea garden.
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