Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Bears Head Brereton part 2

Thursday 4th September

So we had had a pretty poor show at the Bears Head, and started to think forward to the next visit. I was browsing the web on my laptop, in the pub (how times have changed eh? When I started visiting my local, you were given earache for watching the telly!), I was glued to the screen, and hadn’t noticed my dad had gone outside for a fag. 

When I finally tore myself away from the screen, I glanced around, and happened to look toward the adjacent table. I gave a polite nod, and in turn received a polite reply in the form of a chat. As all at the table were elderly (ish), I thought they might find the old cards interesting and, as it turned out, the elderly couple were local to the area for 60 years! We had struck local-knowledge-and-pub-going-history gold!

I’d gone outside for a smoke and when I came back Clint was pestering some nice people at the next. I went to rescue them and drag my son away but we had a bit of a chat and that’s how me met Dick Heyhoe, his wife Wendy, his nephew Jonathan and Jonathans wife, Florence. Dick and Wendy have lived in the village for 60 years or so and his nephew and niece-in-law live in Ireland but were over for a visit.  They told us the previous landlord had been a man called Roberto Tarquini, of Italian descent, (who married Margaret, one of two daughters of Arthur Whiteley, the landlord before that), and who had been an excellent host with many a convivial evening being had there, including one New Years Eve when Mr Tarquini (who, sadly, had had a leg amputated) danced a little too vigorously with the end result being he went one way and his false leg went the other which caused much hilarity but all taken in good spirit!

I’d like to butt in here, Wendy told us she remembered when present owners first took over and took down the old Muzzled Bear pub sign hanging outside and replaced it with a picture of  a more “friendly bear”, Yogi Bear! The locals campaigned against the sign, and after 6 months, they took the friendly sign down, and just put up the words, “The Bears Head.” Very politically correct…

Which brings me on to a good tale. We spoke about how the pub came to be called The Bears Head as it had originally been The Boars Head.

We had heard a story which goes as follows:-

An un-named Brereton had been eating his evening meal in Brereton Hall when he was interrupted by one of his servants. The Master was so enraged by this that he ran after the servant who fled upstairs. The fact that the servant ran from him enraged the Master even more, so much so that, when he eventually caught the poor fellow, he beat him to death!!

The rest of the household staff and the villagers were so incensed by this it appeared to the Master of the hall he was in danger of being strung up! So the fearful man fled to London to confess to the King and ask his pardon. The King, however, was not in a forgiving mood and ordered the Master to be confined to the Tower for three days where he was to design and manufacture a muzzle for a bear.

After the said three days the man was brought before the King with his muzzle and was then thrown into a pit with a bear on the understanding that if he could attach the muzzle to the bear before he was killed the King would let him go which, fortunately for the Brereton, he managed to do and was released. Since that time the pub became the Bears Head and a muzzled bear features on the Brereton coat of arms.

We asked the Heyhoes if this was the correct story and they said it was pretty much what they had heard too.


There are other theories. One is that a member of the Brereton family was too outspoken and the King ordered him muzzled, another is that Henry VIII ordered the bear muzzled after a William Brereton, Kt., Chamberlain of Chester and Groom of the Chamber to the King, was executed on 17th May 1536 (along with 4 other men including George Boleyn, Annes’ brother) for “adulterous association” with Anne Boleyn. Two days later Anne herself was executed.

The third is that it was just a play on words. Any name that remotely looked or sounded like “bear” (Barnard, Baring, Barnes, Beardsley e.g.) became associated with the bear and Brereton was close enough to Bear for the association to be formed. According to The Art of Heraldry by A. C. Fox-Davies, heraldic bears were normally muzzled. As there are no pictures or descriptions of the Brereton bear without a muzzle it may have always had one, but I prefer to believe the murder story!

I went outside for yet another fag and met a guy called Tom.

Dad came back from a fag break and said he’d been talking to a guy outside called Tom. Dad had asked him if he knew any tales about the place and he’d mentioned a ghost. I immediately asked Dick and Wendy if they had heard about it and Wendy said yes. It was the ghost of a little girl who had appeared in the pub numerous times in the past but the local vicar, Charlie Shepherd had carried out an exorcism in c. 1961 and the phantom had not been seen since.

Tom also said that he had a photograph allegedly depicting the ghost in the pub and he would mail me a copy. Unfortunately this has not arrived but if it does in the future I will share it with you.

So hopefully, we’ll be able to bust this ghost, and we’ll have some more on the village of Brereton, some of the sights, and wrap up our visit, all next time….

By the way, we're really chuffed that so many people have looked at this, and from all over the world (Western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Canada and the USA) but it would be even better if we had a few comments. Tell us what you think, good or bad, where you're from etc., and share with your friends. Cheers!!


  1. Another very interesting post and it's good to see the way you are marking the different speakers. Look forward to your next pub to be visited...

  2. I would like to add a little end to your tale, somewhat belated, but people might find it interesting. I stayed here for about 3 years while working on a contract in Holmes chapel. 2007-2009. I slept here, ate here, and took breakfast here. We heard many tales of ghosts but payed no heed.
    One morning I came down for breakfast, it was early, and I was friendly with Janet, who allays worked the breakfast shift. I entered the empty pub and looked around for Janet. I looked across the pub and spy a young boy sitting on a bench beneath an old window. Janet arrived from the hotel side of the bar and I asked her why she had brought her son in today. She stopped, looked at me, and said "have you seen a boy over there?". I said yes. She said that not a boy its a girl and its a ghost welcome to the club. And this is the truth.