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Ruth's Blog

Royal Oak

by Ruth Gatenby

Royal Oak during renovation

Royal Oak during renovation

Redevelopment of Royal Oak Court

Redevelopment of Royal Oak Court

Many readers will be familiar with the popular Royal Oak public house (“The Splash”) in Little Cawthorpe just south of Louth.  There was also a pub of this name in Upgate, Louth; the building is still there – it is currently Murdock Troon Kitchens - and the yard behind it is Royal Oak Close.

The first photo, from the Louth Standard newspaper, shows the former Royal Oak during renovation.  The pub closed in the mid-20th century and the derelict building was purchased by the Council in 1963.  Despite the fact that it was a listed building, in March 1982 permission to demolish the Royal Oak was granted, but after appeal, it was renovated instead. 

In the 19th century the Royal Oak was described as a large establishment fronting Upgate, containing on the ground floor, dining and sitting rooms, bar, dram shop, kitchen and pantry, good arched cellar, with six bedrooms and two attics over, a spacious yard at the back with stabling for forty horses, granaries, brewhouse and other convenient outbuildings.

Chris Birchmore tells me that there was a tunnel under the road, to link the Royal Oak to the cellars of the Mansion House, so that beer barrels and spirits could easily be transported to assemblies in the Mansion House.  The tunnel was blocked off long ago!

The Royal Oak was already in existence in 1766.  Some of its landlords seem to have had a dubious reputation.  For instance, in 1847 Robert Hewson, landlord of the Royal Oak was charged with allowing prostitutes to assemble in the pub; in 1864, landlord Anthony Reast was in a stick brawl with the landlord of the Blue Stone Tavern; and in 1866, landlord Edward King was charged with stealing sheep.

The second photo, taken by Harold Jackson, shows the construction of flats in Royal Oak Court in 1991.

There used to be a very large number of pubs in Louth.  Come and see our exhibition in Louth Museum entitled “Louth Shops and Pubs, Then and Now”, which displays old photos of the businesses, and presents a brief history and a contemporary photo.  The exhibition begins on 26 July 2023.