The unusual name is thought originate from a 19th century diatribe against the tax system, in which ‘the monarch ruled for all, the Bishop prayed for all, the lawyer pleaded or all, the soldier fought for all – and the taxpayer paid for it all’. On a town survey map of 1855 the name of the Bath Road pub is given as the Four Alls, could this be a mistake or was another occupation added? The Five Alls pub sign in Cheltenham is quite tame depicting the employment of the monarchy (rule for all), clergy (pray for all), legal (plead for all), armed forces (fight for all), and workers (work for all). In these days of stand-up comedy and irony it comes as a surprise that there isn’t a ‘sixth all’ – shirkers (do f*** all).

Courtesy Michael Wilkes

In March 1861 George Scarrett, a razor grinder, had been charged with the theft from the pub of a stuffed squirrel in a glass case, with an estimated value of 5 shillings. We might wonder if the magistrate, Colonel Newman, was fully on top of the matter as he enquired as to whether the stuffed squirrel was alive! Scarrett admitted that he had sold the animal and got drunk on the proceeds.   

Robert Woodward was the owner of the Five Alls in 1891 and, in those days, it was a free house. The Five Alls was licensed as a beer house and had an annual rateable value of £17.0s.0d. in 1891. Sometime in the next twelve years the lease of the pub was acquired by William Sadler Hall, with Robert Woodward still the owner. William Sadler Hall owned the Royal William Hotel in Cranham. He was also something of an entrepreneur establishing the Cranham Brewery on the premises of the Royal William. He built up small portfolio of pubs in Cheltenham which he supplied with his Cranham beers. These were the Apple Tree in Russell Place, Crown & Cushion in Bath Road and the Gladstone Arms in Fairview. In 1903 the annual rateable value increased by £4.5s.0d. to £21.5s.0d., perhaps suggesting that some improvements had been done to the Five Alls.

The Cranham Brewery, together with the small pub estate built up by William Sadler Hall, was acquired by Godsell & Sons of the Salmon Springs Brewery in Stroud in August 1904 for £13,800. An old photograph of the Five Alls shows the pub as it was when it was tied to Godsells. The brewery sign-writers must have spent several days painting the walls of the pub with meticulous attention to detail. ‘Godsell & Sons celebrated stout in bottle & on draught’, ‘Our celebrated old, mild and bitter ales in bottles & draught’ were elaborate painted advertisements at street level. The front window still had ‘Cranham Ales’ etched into them. On the corner of the pub there was a children’s department. Indeed, the photograph shows the landlady – Harriett Young – standing in the doorway of the pub with a young child in her arms.

David White, the landlord of the Five Alls in the mid 19th century, was awarded the Freedom of the City of Gloucester in 1865 for his promotion of the rifle movement in Gloucestershire. David was the Drum-Major of the Cheltenham Rifle Corps. However, he had previously got in trouble with the local magistrates when he was found guilty of keeping the pub open after permitted hours in September 1857. He was fined eighteen shillings for his misdemeanour. David White later became involved in local politics and intended to stand as local councillor for Cheltenham South Ward but he died on 13th January 1872.

In March 1861 one of the locals at the Five Alls decided to steal a stuffed squirrel housed in a glass case from the Five Alls. George Scarrett, a razor grinder, was found guilty. He admitted that he sold the squirrel, worth five shillings, and spent the money on drink.

Courtesy Michael Wilkes
Note the missing ‘West Country Ales – Best in the West’ plaque.

A car crashed into the Five Alls in November 2006 causing structural damage. An 8 feet by 6 feet hole resulted and a window was smashed. The driver fled the scene but was caught later. It was about this time that the West Country Ales ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque ‘disappeared’ from the pub. However, it must be stressed that the accident may not have been the reason why it vanished. A basic chalk blackboard was put up where the plaque once was. Maybe it has been simply covered over.

The Five Alls had a refurbishment in September 2016 when the interior was redecorated. A major £250,000 investment was announced in February 2018 with the owners claiming that the improvements were an ‘excellent opportunity to grow and re-launch the business”. The planning application submitted to Cheltenham Borough Council detailed a ‘proposal to take down exiting rear male WC toilet and build new kitchen extension with flat room structure. Re-locate existing entrance to the side in historic location and install two new bi-folding doors to existing window opening together with general internal alterations.’

A new look for the Five Alls. The signwriting was a pleasant surprise.

Local’s at the pub tend to call it simply ‘The Fives’.

Landlords at the Five Alls include:

1857,1870 David White (died 13th January 1872)

1878 Job Lyes

1881 Louisa Lyes, widow (nee Gastrell)

1883 Mrs Lyes

1891 John Sims

1903 Louisa Sims

1906 Arthur Thomas Price

1907 Frank Young

1914 Harriett L Young (widow of Frank, died October 5th 1932, aged 73)

1939 A.W. Doan

1950’s Richard (Dick) and Rosie Sparkes (previously at the Oak, Barton Street, Gloucester)

1961 Kevin (‘Paddy’) and Eileen Hernon

1983 Tony and Norma Holland

2016 Francesca Forsyth

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