Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Horsingdon Transmissions No.112: The Boreham Arms

Tradition holds that, should a pub in the Horsingdon district be renamed, it should adopt the new moniker of The Black Horse. With the increasing gentrification of the borough, this custom has fallen by the wayside, as many of the older pubs have undergone refurbishment and transformation into any number of stylish - but vapid and characterless - winebars and gastropubs.

Fortunately my own local public house has managed to avoid the worst of modernity's excessive abrasions, and underwent the traditional renaming ceremony back in the 1940s. Prior to that, it had been known as The Northwich Stone, and in the early 1900s as The Boreham Arms - this latter redesignation being on account of James Boreham's acquisition of the property at that time. Never popular under that particular title, attempts to distance the establishment's association from the suspect reputation of the once-proud Boreham name led to the defacement of the carved relief of the family coat of arms added by Joseph Boreham to the building's facade sometime around 1904 - the scarred remnants of which can be seen in the above photograph.

Local legend has it that the landlord responsible for this act of vandalism was unable to find a stonemason willing to remove the offending artifice - on account of the commonly-held belief that the revenant of James Boreham would exact vengeance upon those who dared raise a hand against any of his works. Accordingly,  the unnamed landlord took matters into his own hands, scaling the tavern's outer wall with hammer and chisel in tow. Partway through the venture, this foolhardy individual was heard to call out in terror, before being seen to slip and fall. Concerned onlookers who witnessed this and rushed to his aid discovered something very curious indeed: there remained neither sight nor sound of the unfortunate landlord's body near the foot of the ladder where they had presumed it to have fallen - nor of the hammer or chisel which he had employed to partial effect against the offending article. Thus, whilst the Boreham cote of arms had not been entirely effaced, it seems that the hapless landlord had, through the exercise of some momentus means by an unknown power, failed to avoid a similar fate.

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