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Here is what we think is the only comprehensive record of pubs and beerhouses within the Coventry city boundaries going back as far as available records allow. This is an ongoing project so contributions, corrections or additions to this archive, especially anecdotes, photos and media are most welcome. Feel free to contact us for a pint and a chat anytime.

The Bulls Head


An ancient and widespread sign which may have begun by referring to a Papal Bull, the leaden seal attached to the Pope's edicts. There may also be a heraldic reference in these signs. Many bull signs are also a reminder that bull-baitng took place. Some signs merely comment on the significance of this animal in farming terms. In nautical terms, a bull is a small keg and in earlier times another nautical expression was "to buill the cask". It meant to pour water into an empty cask, leave it for a while, then drink it.

This is an ancient pub that was replaced with a new version. The first mention we know of is in 1763 when Ogden of the Coventry gang assured Alderman Hewitt that he was never at the Bulls head in Stoke. Then on 12th Jnauary 1778 when there was a hold-up by highwaymen between the Bulls Head and Stoke tollgate. In 1895 the old pub was leased by Phillips & Marriott for £151 from James Warden of Walsgrave on Sowe. In 1899 some adjoining land was also leased and in 1916 the pub was purchased by Phillips & Marriott.

In 1926 the Fleur de Lys in Smithford Street was closed in order to obtain permission to remove and rebuild the Bulls Head. In 1982 it was described as a very large and busy pub.

Note that the rural nature of Stoke in the nineteenth century allowed one licensee to be a farmer as well and another licensee to be also a cowkeeper.

The well known stocks alongside the pub are said to date from 1610, although there is another story that they were erected in 1848 - 1850 for William Kimberley. He is said to have got drunk in the pub and caused a disturbance. He was fined and told that if the fine was not paid he would be put in the stocks for six hours. He refused to pay but Stoke didn't have any stocks so William Woodward built some. When they were completed, Kimberley quickly paid up ! I see that Henry Woodward was licensee 1876 - 1888 so this must have been a local family.

Known Licensees are;
1835 - 1845 Mark Bicknell
1850 - 1866 Thomas Pettifor (also a farmer)
1868 - 1874 George Smith (also a cowkeeper)
1876 - 1888 Henry Woodward
1891 - 1892 Fred Hickley
1903 - 1905 John Storer
1908 - 1922 George Edward Wharmby
1924 - 1940 A. Wharmby
2015 John Thorpe

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