Hereford Arms, Hereford Square, Brompton, London

Public House opposite George Borrow’s house in the Hereford Square.

The pre-history of the Hereford Arms began in the mid 1760’s when the first villas were built on the fields in the Brompton village area.  One of the villas at the south-west side of what is now Hereford Square was eventually called Hereford Lodge (reason unknown).  Later, in January 1845, James Day (owner of land) agreed with Joseph Dunning and William Ward to develop the area, then a field, and Hereford Lodge gave its name to the new square.

Map of what would become Hereford Square, 1835

Hereford Square was developed with all houses ready for occupation by December 1849.  Note that the Hereford Arms isn’t on the property owned by James Day and is not on the “Day” Estate as such.

In 1854 Messrs. Robert Thompson and James Mason demolished the house on the corner of Gloucester Road and Clareville Street and rebuilt it.  This was later incorporated into the Hereford Arms.

Following the house that was to become the Hereford Arms (38 Hereford Square) in Kelly’s Directories we have:




Taylor John Fitzgerald, Esq.


House is either not listed or no occupier given.


Robert Salmon.  It’s listed as the Hereford Tavern.


House is either not listed or no occupier given.


Mason James.  He’s listed as a Beer Retailer.


John Palmer (with no listing for 1870).  Palmer is shown as Beer Retailer in 1865, but after that it’s now listed as the Hereford Arms.


Richard Howlton Flack.  Still shown as Hereford Arms


Frederick Thos. Barrow.  Still shown as Hereford Arms

The gaps in Kelly don’t mean the pub didn’t exist.  For example, The Times for 16 May 1860 (page 4) has the following, under a heading of Court of Relief for Insolvent Debtors:

Alfred Sharp, formerly of the Admiral Keppel public-house, Fulham-road, Brompton, carman, and late of the Hereford Arms, Hereford-square, Old Brompton, both in Middlesex, beer retailer and now a prisoner for debt in the Debtor’s Prison for London and Middlesex, his wife carrying on the business at the Hereford Arms aforesaid, beer retailer. [1]

So it looks as if Robert Salmon had moved on within a year and the Hereford Arms now had a landlady, her husband being in prison for debt.  It does seem that the Sharp’s were the people who changed Hereford Tavern to Hereford Arms.

The West London Observer reported that an incident took place in the Hereford Arms South Kensington on 9 February 1862 with an Eliza Gibson attacking a drinker, George Blandford from 9 Holland Street, Kensington.

In a court case at Hammersmith Police Court in November 1862 James Mason is listed as the proprietor of the Hereford Tavern.  Although Mason wasn’t the subject of the case, the Hereford Tavern had been used to hold goods stolen from 6 Hereford Square.

In April 1864 John Palmer appealed against the justice’s decision not to grant him a license (no record yet of original refusal).  Unfortunately the court decided to refuse the appeal 18 to 5, so there must have been good reasons against Palmer.

In April 1865 John Palmer again applied for a license to use his house as a public house, and this time it was granted.  The newspaper gives the address as 39 Gloucester Road, showing the confusion that existed in what was and what wasn’t Hereford Square.

By 1868 the Hereford Arms was noteworthy as on 26th August 1868 the Chelsea Working Men’s Electoral Association held a meeting there (see Times, 27 August 1868).  The meeting was to formerly announce that Charles Wentworth Dilke and Mr. Odger had been chosen to as the Association’s candidates for the representation of Chelsea.  Dilke attended in person, Odger was ill but sent a thankyou note.  The Association met again in the Hereford Arms on 4th November 1868 to consider the retirement of Mr. Odger (see Times, 5 November 1868).

In 1872, during the lock-out in the building trade, there Hereford Arms was one of a number of places that held the books for the locked-out men to sign to enable them access to the general fund.

Landlords clearly moved around a lot at this time.  In the Times, 9 October 1890, page 15, creditors of Charles Tilley, a former landlord, were sought.  After the Hereford Arms Tilley had gone on to the Plough, Fore Street, City of London, then the Viaduct Tavern Newgate Street, then Oxford Mansions Oxford Street.

In September 1907 the Hereford Arms changed owners at auction, or rather privately the day before the auction.  At the time the lease had about 12 years unexpired at £100 per annum, and the lessors, Messrs. Watney, Combe, Reid, and Co. (Limited), were to supply the malt liquors (see Times 21 September 1907).  Two years later it was up for sale again (see Times 14 July 1909).

In 1914 someone called Hatton wanted a housemaid for 10s. a week for the business house, which had two other servants, no windows or washing, good outings.  Interestingly the address now appears as 127 Gloucester Road, South Kensington. (Times 26 May 1914, page 19).

The pub is still going and in December 2014 the George Borrow Society had a very good Christmas meal there.


[1]  Notice that a final order would be made on 30th July 1861 appeared in The Times 16 July 1861, so the matter ran on for over a year.