In 1830 the Beer House Act was enacted which allowed nearly any person to apply for a license to brew and sell beer on payment of two guineas. Amongst others, traders could now brew beer and sell it on their premises,
and several public houses in Pakenham began in this way.
These include the ‘Bricklayers’ Arms’ which we believe later became known as ‘The Telegraph’.
‘The Oak’, later ‘The Royal Oak,’ in Fen Road and ‘The Fox’.
The Fox, Pakenham
In 1833 and 1834, George Potter had two children baptised in Pakenham; in the Baptism Register his occupation was given as ‘Labourer, but in 1836 he is entered as a ‘Baker’. In 1840 a Mr. George Potter of Pakenham, advertised the sale of his household furniture, brewing plant etc., as he was ‘now engaged in business in London’. (Bury and Norwich Post dated 16th December 1840).
By comparing details from the Pakenham Tithe Map and Apportionment and the 1841 Census I am confident that George Cooper occupied the building that would ultimately become ‘The Fox’. As a baker he would have been experienced in the cultivation of yeast, an essential ingredient in the brewing of beer and it is likely that he applied for a license to brew and sell beer somewhere in the mid to late 1830’s.
The 1841 Census records a Henry Clement Roper, Baker.
In 1851, George Simpson Cooper, Baker and Brewer, is recorded in the Pakenham Census occupying a property in ‘Bridge Street’, (later the High Street). In White’s Trade Directory for 1855 he is listed as one of two bakers in the village and in the 1861 Census his occupation is also given as Baker. In 1864 The Bury and Norwich Post carried an announcement of his death, ‘Died on the 23rd May at Pakenham, Mr. George Simpson Cooper, aged 44, baker and postmaster of Pakenham.’ (Bury and Norwich Post dated 31st May 1864)
The following year his widow, Mary Cooper, beer house keeper of Pakenham, applied for a full licence at the County Petty Session held on the 23rd August in Bury St Edmunds; Mr. S. Nunn jnr. applied on her behalf. It was opposed by Messrs Tacon of Eye, owners of the Bell Public House in the same parish. After reviewing all the evidence the Bench decided to refuse the application. (Bury and Norwich Post dated 29th August 1865)
On the 24th August 1868 at the Ixworth Petty Sessions, Mr James Leech of Pakenham applied for and was granted a full licence for his beer house in Pakenham. He also made a second application at Ixworth on 23rd August 1869 which was also granted. (Bury and Norwich Post dated 25th August 1868 and 24th August 1869)
In the 1871 Census for Pakenham, ‘The Fox’ is recorded for the first time; it was occupied by Mr James Leech, Licensed Victualler, his wife Caroline and their four children.
More recently the pub was sold by the major chains in 2011 to a property developer, who had hoped to turn the plot into housing, fortunately for the village, this wasn't successful, and in 2015 Nick Mcllwraith, purchased the building and plot, with the support of his long term side kick and best friend, Bebe Kennedy-Mair, they set about a full restoration and complete refurbishment of the site and returning it to it's former glory.
Nick and Bebe redesigned the inside, making best use of the space with support of a number of locals, all keen to see the village regain its watering hole.
The pub reopened in 2016 and in the years following, Nick and Bebe managed to achieve a number of accolades from CAMRA, including Country Pub of the Year.
When Covid hit, the pub had to close, much like any other hospitality business, it was hit hard, but when allowed to open Nick and Bebe reopened the outside space and continued the great work they had started before Covid.
In 2021, Nick and Bebe handed the management of the pub over to the current management team, who continue to run the pub in the same ethos. Great beer, great food, and a warm welcome.