Some History.

I have been kindly sent a couple of documents. Firstly the Will of William Baughan, made in 1840, which refers to the newly constructed Unicorn public house. This dates the Pub to 1838 - 1840. The second interesting item is a map. Dated late 18th century, it refers to The Inn, in the same spot as The Unicorn and suggests there was a pub or coaching inn on the site prior to the existing one. ( Both these links were kindly given for use by Cliff Baughen )

More history through the site, this time from Shelagh Newman ( nee Hughes ) 

"My great, great grandfather John Hughes was innkeeper at the Unicorn in the 1861 census with his wife and 3 children. John died in 1864 and his daughter Susannah is shown in the 1871 census as being a general servant at the Unicorn Inn. Susannah died in 1873 aged 21."

Also, Mrs Carole Archer sent me the following, to fill in a few more gaps.

"A distant relative of mine, Edward Mace seems to plug a gap in your Pub's history as he was the innkeeper at the Unicorn from somewhere between 1861 and 1871 until his death on 21st November 1893. During this time his daughter Elizabeth Mace was also there acting as housekeeper. His probate records show that he had little money when he died "Mace Edward of Great Rollright Oxfordshire innkeeper died 21 November 1893 Administration London 6 January to Edward John Mace farmer effects £27 1s".

The following images have kindly been given for use by Mr Jim Wallington.

The first shows the Unicorn Pub alongside Unicorn Cottage.

Rollright Unicorn

The second shows the yard of The Unicorn about 1920. On the right is Daisy Pearson with her sister, and in the trap, their father and mother Abram and Sarah.


Abram and Sarah took on The Unicorn in 1896, after moving from the Newmarket Inn, Chipping Norton, where they were also tenants. At this time, there were 3 acres of land with The Unicorn, which satisfied the ambition of the Pearsons to become small scale farmers. The Unicorn was then owned by Hitchmans Brewery of Chipping Norton, and beer was delivered by horse and dray.

In the 1930s ownership of The Unicorn transferred to Hunt Edmunds of Banbury. ( Their crest can still be seen on the front of the building. ) Hunt Edmunds were then taken over by Mitchells and Butler Ltd., and ceased brewing in 1967. The new owners became Bass Charrington.

Abram held the license until 1945 when he died aged eighty four. The license transferred to Sarah, who continued until the early 1960s. The Pearsons therefore held the license for nearly seventy years! Towards the end of the 1960s, the three acres were sold off to developers and became Hill Rise.

The following has been sent by Pat Housden. It fills in a little more of the jigsaw that is The Unicorn.
“My family ran the Unicorn from 1966 to 1977 and we all lived there (my parents, Harry & Mabel Pooley, my husband Tom and I, and our two children).  We were there until my father died and the brewery decided to sell it.  When we took over in 1966 it was a tied Hunt Edmunds house which later became part of Mitchells & Butler and, finally, Bass Charrington.  As far as I know it was never part of the Hook Norton brewery group although, as a free house, it would no doubt have sold their products.
It was a very good, profitable business when we ran it - but you must remember, this was the 60s/70s, and pubs were where people went to drink, not eat so food wasn't on the menu (unless you count some ham slapped between 2 slices of white bread!).  The pub was very run down when we took over and to start with my father and husband both had alternative occupations so my mother and I ran it during the day.  In those days, most of the village people worked in agriculture and didn't have a lot of money so certainly wouldn't waste it on dining out.  Most of our customers in the week were men and they drank rough cider, which was cheap (as I recall, around 7d a pint) and upgraded to beer at the weekend.  At the weekends women would join their husbands after bingo in the village hall and to pay into the Thrift Club we ran.
The pub ran two darts teams in the winter and sometimes a ladies team as well. In the summer, it was Aunt Sally.  Also there were regular dominoes and cribbage schools where the men would come in early on a Sunday lunchtime to bag a table.
Sometimes, we would have live music - folk or a rock & roll group but the place wasn't really big enough and it used to get in the way of people drinking.
The pub really was the hub of the village and we as a family were very involved in village life hosting all sorts of events.  My two daughters attended the village school.  We also sold sweets and ice cream so would pick up business when the village shop was closed.  Licensing hours were very different then - 10am-2.30pm and 6pm-10.30pm (11pm on Friday & Saturday).  On Sunday and Christmas Day we were open 12noon-2pm.  However, being in a village we usually were pretty flexible!  We were very strict on underage drinking as quite a lot of young people came (teenagers not children) and my daughters were useful in letting us know how old they were.

I can only remember that Dave & Bridie (can't recall their surname) bought it as a free house in 1977 and made major alterations although they moved on after a couple of years.  I can't recall who came after them but I am pretty sure it stayed a free house and was not brewery owned again.”


The following is an Inventory and valuation of fixtures, fittings and effects of The Unicorn Inn, dated February 6th 1894. Reference Archibald Sole, C.N. Very kindly given by Carol Dingle. ( More to follow! )




Total: Thomas Keck valued all of the above at £24. 6s. 11d. ( £24 - 30.45p )


Anything you can add to this would be welcome.

We would welcome any information you have. Please sign up for our news letter. Please email directly at


We have searched books and the net for the information contained within this site. If any image or text is covered by copyright we don't know about, please get in touch.