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The Bull's Head (1839-1927)

Fordington Hill

© Michael Russell - OPC for Fordington - June 2013

The Bulls Head - Fordington Hill


Michael Pitfield - depicted in the picture


From 1839 to 1849 - The earliest reference that I have been able to locate to the Bulls Head Inn on Fordington Hill is 1839 when Giles LODER was the Innkeeper. It probably existed as an Inn prior to that date but it is not listed in the Post Office directory for 1830 and I could not trace any grade II listing at English Heritage, or enries on the A2A website made by the Dorset History Center, which might have helped to date the building. If anyone has knowledge of when it was built or additional information from that listed below please make contact.

Giles LODER (1780-1849) married in Fordington on 16th May 1803 to Elizabeth FRAMPTON (1785-1849) and was described as a carrier by trade on the baptims of his 15 children born between 1803 and 1830. He was living at Fordington Cross in 1839 when one of his daughters died. He appears to have run the pub with his wife Elizabeth for over a decade but they both died in 1849 - almost certainly as a direct result of the major Cholera outbreak that year. See the biography of Rev Henry Moule Vicar of St Georges Church and the accounts of Cholera outbreaks of 1849 and 1854.


From 1849 to 1857 - Robert HAWKINS (1790-1857) a native of Winterbourne Kingston, originally an agricultural labourer, became a Serjeant in the Dorset Militia and in 1849 took over the running of the Bull's Head Inn on Fordington Hill. In reality in 1851 the pub was being run by his son George HAWKINS (1823) who is described as the Innkeeper with the assistance of his elder sister Mary Ann (1821-1854) who also worked as the barmaid. They also had a lodger William Payne who was a seedsman by trade but also doubled up as a guard at the Inn, presumably mainly in the evenings. George married when he was 29 years old on 29th Nov 1852 in his brides parish of Blandford Forum. His bride was Jemmima [Jemima] WATTS (1814) a 28 year old spinster the daughter of James Watts whose occupation on their marriage certificate is given as 'post boy'. Presumably Robert who was then aged 62 had retired from the Dorset Milita as described at their marriage as the Innkeeper and George as a Porter. Both George and Jemmima were literate and his sister Mary Ann died at the young age of 35 being buried at Fordington on 1st June 1854. Robert Hawkins also then died, at the age of 66, and was buried at Fordington on 22nd Jan 1857. The running of the pub then seems to have passed onto Thomas Riggs although George, described as a gardener, was still living next door to the Bull's Head in 1861 with his wife Jemima and his family.


From 1857 to 1877 - In 1861 the Innkeeper of the Bull's Head was the 42 year old bachelor Thomas RIGGS (1815-1877) . He was the son of a Currier Joseph Riggs and had been baptised at Fordington St George Church on 6th March 1815. He ran the pub with the help of his widowed mother Ann and his 22 year old neice Mary Ann. He was still there in 1871 when he had 9 boarders staying on the premises. Thomas died at the age of 62 being buried at Fordington on 7th Dec 1877.


From 1877 to 1896/7    George PITFIELD (1844-1917) (picture left) was born at Gallows Hill Fordington in 1844. He was baptised at Fordington on 24th Nov that year the son of George PITFIELD (1815-1874) & Caroline Margaret CRITCHELL (1822-1885). As a young man he worked as a tailor with his father in Bell Street in All Saints parish Dorchester, a trade he was still following when he married in 1870 to Elizabeth Brushett a 21 year old spinster living in St Peters Parish.

Elizabeth BRUSHETT (1850-1891) was the daughter of another publican John Brushett who was managing the 'Three Mariners' in High East street in 1865. He moved to manage 'The Star' in Bell street by 1875 so Elizabeth was well used versed in the trade and George seized the opportunity presented by the death of Thomas Riggs to take over as Innkeeper of the Bull's Head. George and Elizabeth ran the Inn for 20 years and raised 6 children before her death in 1891.

George then re-married to Eliza Jane LEGGE (1858-1915) in 1891 in Epsom Surrey and she came to live at the Bull's Head until they moved to reside in Parkstone where for a time he continued to be a publican. By 1911 he was the proprietor of the Halfway Hotel on Poole Road in Parkstone. George was buried at Longfleet aged 72 on 13th Jan 1917

From 1896/7 to 1905   When George left Fordington the Bull's Head was run by his son George John PITFIELD (1871-1947) and his wife Alice Mary nee Scard (picture right). George had married Alice at Cerne Abbas on 24th May 1894 and they lived at 2 Green Hill Terrace in Fordington. They are shown running the pub in the 1901 census and her father died there in 1905 but they left in 1906 to live in Uxbridge Middlesex where he worked as a hairdresser

[© pictures by kind permission of Michael Pitfield ]


From 1906 to 1927   We know from Jury lists that have survived and are kept at the Dorset History Centre that John Henry DOMINEY (1862-1909) took over the running of the Bull's Head in 1906

Born at East Coker in Somerset he was a carpenter and joiner by trade and married Anna Maria Rose in the district of Sherborne at the tail end of 1880. They settled initially in Melcombe Regis, St John's parish, where they had a daughter (1) Ethel Mary baptised on 30th Nov 1881. By 1883 they had moved to live at number 2 Ayling Terrace in West Fordington and they had the following children baptised at Christchurch (2) Ernest Herbert bap on 1st July 1883, he was confirmed at the age of 20 at Christchurch on 13th Nov 1903. He became a monumental mason and executor of his mothers will (3) Mabel Annie Elizabeth bap on 7th Dec 1884 (4) Letitia Victoria bap on 24th July 1887 (5) Reginald John bap on 13th Oct 1889 (6) Esther Maud bap on 2nd Aug 1891. In the 1901 Census the family is living at 16 Maie Terrace in the parish of St Peters Dorchester and John is described as a Railway Company's carpenter. John Henry moved to Fordington Hill and took over the running of the Bull's Head in 1906. He died there on 24th Nov 1909 leaving a modest estate to his widow of £258.

His widow Anna Maria DOMINEY (1862-1927) continued to run the pub, initially with the help of her 21 year old son Reginald, 19 year old daughter Esther, and a 16 year old neice called Eleanor Kate Sartin. Anna remained as Innkeeper of the Bull's Head until she died there on 23rd Jan 1927.


[Note:- There is currently insufficient information available to me concerning the period after 1927 to attempt a consistent account but I hope to add to the following over time]

In 1931 - John William PATTENDEN Junior was Innkeeper

From Sep 2009 - Martin and Sarah GIFFORD were Landlords.
Martin had experience in mechanics whilst Sarah had experience in the pub trade and they reopened the pub on 12th Sep 2009 after it had been closed for 5 months. Their daughters Leah aged 14 and Holly aged 11 in the photograph lived in accommodation with their parents upstairs in the pub.

In 2013 - Christopher DUNHAM was Landlord
Genealogical Notes:-

I have located the following references to the 'The Bull's Head' from which I have compiled the above account:- (If anyone has additional information on owners or Innkeepers of the Inn particularly between 1927 and the present day please make contact via my email address given at the top of the home page)

1839 - Robert's Directory - Bull's Head, -- Giles Loder, Fordington

06 Jun 1841 - Census - at Fordington Hill -- Giles Loder age 61 a publican

10 Nov 1849 - Monumental Inscriptions - Death of Giles Loder of Fordington age 72 & his wife Elizabeth Loder died 20th June 1849 aged 64

31 Mar 1851 - Census - at Fordington Hill -- George Hawkins son of Robert Hawkins a serjeant in the Dorset Militia resident at Bulls Head F/Hill born Winterbourne Kingston Dorset, age 25 an Innkeeper

1852 - Slater's Directory - Bull's Head -- George Hawkins, Fordington

08 Apr 1861 - Census - Bull's Head at Fordington Hill - Thomas Riggs unmarried aged 42, Innkeeper

1865 - Harrod's Directory - Bull's Head -- Thomas Riggs East Fordington

03 Apr 1871 - Census - Bull's Head at Fordington Hill - Thomas Riggs unmarried age 55, licenced victualler and 9 boarders

1875 - Post Office Directory - Bull's Head -- Thomas Riggs Fordington

17 Nov 1878 - F St G Parish bap Register - George Pitfield (1844-1917) described as Publican living on Fordington Hill at the baptism of his son Alfred Francis Pitfield

04 Apr 1881 - Census - Bulls Head Inn Fordington Hill - George Pitfield Head married age 36 Publican born Fordington etc

27 Apr 1881 - F St G Parish bap Register - George Pitfield (1844-1917) described as Publican at the Bulls Head at the baptism of his daughter Bessie Sarah Pitfield

04 Apr 1883 - F St G Parish bap Register - George Pitfield (1844-1917) described as Publican at the Bulls Head at the baptism of his daughter Rosina Kate Pitfield

04 Jun 1885 - F St G Parish bap Register - George Pitfield (1844-1917) described as the Innkeeper of the Bulls Head at 'The Hill' Fordington at the baptism of his daughter Caroline Margaret Pitfield

May 1885 - A2A Dorset History Center Archives Ref D1170/1/7 Abstract Title to the Bull's Head and property in Parkstone

1889 - Kelly's Directory - Bull's Head Public House Fordington -- George Pitfield (1844-1917)

06 Apr 1891 - Census - Bulls Head Inn - George Pitfield (1844-1917) described as a widower aged 46 and a Licenced Victualler etc

1895 - Kelly's Directory - Bull's Head Public House -- 19 Fordington Hill - George Pitfield (1844-1917)

1895 - F St G Parish burial register - George Pitfield (1844-1917) described being of the Bulls Head Inn at Fordington on the burial of his daughter Joyce Christine Pitfield aged 7 months

01 Apr 1901 - Census - George John Pitfield (1871-1947) Head married age 30 Innkeeper of the Bull's Head Inn Fordington Hill with his wife Alice and family

24 Nov 1909 - Probate for John Henry Dominey of the Bull's Head Fordington Hill Dorchester a licenced victualler died 24th Nov 1909 administration granted at Blandford 9th dec to Anna Maria Dominey widow effects £258.5s.0d

1903 - Kelly's Directory - Bull's Head Public House -- 19 Fordington Hill - George (John) Pitfield (1871-1947)

10 July 1905 - Simeon Furber Scard the father of Alice Mary Scard the wife of George John Pitfield (1871-1947) died at the Bull's Head Inn in East Fordington and was returned to his own parish of Cerne Abbas for burial see Cerne Burial Register.

1906 - Electoral Registers - George John Pitfield - Entry 405 Abode 19 Fordington Hill dwelling house The Bull's Head

1907 - Electoral Registers - John Henry Dominey - Entry 396 Abode 19 Fordington Hill dwelling house qualification 16 Mail terrace and the Bull's Head

02 Apr 1911 - Census - Bull's Head Inn Dorchester - Anna Maria Dominey Head widow age 49 Innkeeper born Yeovil Somerset with her son and daughter niece and nephew

1915 - Kelly's Directory - Bull's Head Public House -- 19 Fordington Hill - Mrs Anna Maria Dominey

1919 - Electoral Register Western Div Street Address 'Bull's Head' 19 Fordington Hill - Anna Maria Dominey

1920 - Electoral Register Western Div Street Address 'Bull's Head' 19 Fordington Hill - Anna Maria Dominey

1920 - Kelly's Directory - Mrs Anna Maria Dominey Bull's Head Public House 19 Fordington Hill

1921 - Electoral Register Western Div Street Address 'Bull's Head' 19 Fordington Hill - Anna Maria Dominey [She is also descibed as a widow and licenced victualler on the Jury list for this year]

27 Jan 1927 - F St G Burial Register - Death Anna Maria Dominey at The Bulls Head aged 64 years

24 Mar 1927 - Anna Maria Dominey of the Bull's Head Fordington Dorchester a widow died 23rd Jan 1927 Probate Blandford 24th March to Ernest Herbert Dominey monumental mason and Walter Raymond Bawler solicitors clerk effects £1,347.6s.2d

1931 - Kelly's Directory - John William Pattenden Junior Bull's Head Public House 19 Fordington Hill

20 July 2001 - Play staged in the garden of the Bull's Head Inn - Dorset Echo

3rd Sep 2009 - Dorset Echo - Landlord Martin & Sarah Gifford - former Fordington resident Sarah Gifford, 38, and her husband Martin, 54, are moving back to the area to take charge

25th Jun 2013 - Dorset Echo - Landlord Chris Dunham of The Bull's Head in Fordington, Dorchester Burglars entered the Bull’s Head Inn in High Street Fordington on Sunday night and made off with items while jackets were also stolen from Millets in South Street

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