19th September 1899 – Inquest in Cheltenham. Man found dead in bed – Paid for his funeral six years ago: On Tuesday morning the Deputy Coroner, Mr P. Ryland, held an inquiry at the Police Station concerning the death of William Faulkner, who was found dead in bed at the Spread Eagle Inn on Monday morning. Thomas Eves, master of the Cheltenham Union, identified the body. He stated that deceased had been an inmate of the house for 30 years, but discharged himself a month ago. He was 75 yeas of age and a carpenter by trade. He had always enjoyed good health. John Dyer, manager of the Spread Eagle Inn, said the deceased had been lodging at the house about a month. He had not been doing much work, but went out during last week. He always appeared in good health, and was all right when he went to bed on Sunday night at 9.30. There were three other lodgers sleeping in the room. Witness heard the following morning that he was dead. He was sober when he went to bed on Sunday night.
Joseph William Brown, a watchmaker, one of the lodgers who slept in the same room as deceased, said he (witness) retired to bed first on Sunday night and did not hear deceased come to bed. When he woke in the morning about 5.45 he called deceased at his request. He appeared to be asleep, but on witness taking hold of his arm to waken him he found he was dead. The Coroner said this was all new evidence, and he thought there was little doubt that death was due to natural causes.
The Foreman: ‘Has deceased any relations?’
The Coroner: ‘No relations at all.’
The Coroner’s Officer, P.C. Lane, was called and stated that on searching the body he found £5.16s.5d. in deceased waistcoat, which had been placed under the pillow. There was also a watch and other small articles. The Coroner said it showed what a careful man deceased was, for a receipt had also been found, which was dated August 11th, 1893, providing for his funeral. It was as follows: – “I promise to bury William, Faulkner, funeral to include coffin lined and trimmed, funeral carriage and pair of horses, driver, four bearers, attendance, grave and funeral fees, he having paid me the sum of £3.5s.0d. Paid August 11th, 1893. Received. John Smith.” The Coroner remarked that it was a very wise provision, but had it not been made fortunately deceased had sufficient money to bury him. The jury then returned a verdict that the deceased died from syncope.
The Gloucestershire Echo reported on 11th July 1907: “Walter T. Lewis of the Spread Eagle was charged with supplying drink to drunken persons on June 10th. A big fine of £5 and costs of £1.5s.2d. One woman found on the premises went to the Spread Eagle at 2.30p.m. She was in the private room. The woman in question got so drunk that she fell asleep on the floor and was carried out to sit in a shed where she remained until 5 or 6 o’clock”.
The Spread Eagle closed in 1964 and later demolished. It was situated near the Winston Churchill Memorial Gardens to the east of the railway line. The approximate site of the pub is near the present-day location of Alexander Burn Funeral Directors (436 High Street)
Godsell & Sons of the Salmon Springs Brewery near Stroud owned the Spread Eagle as early as 1883. Godsell’s would have remained as owners until the family brewery was voluntarily taken over by Stroud Brewery In 1928. The Spread Eagle was licensed as a beer house and throughout the twelve years from 1891 to 1903 the annual rateable value was constant at £21.5s.0d.
Landlords at the Spread Eagle Inn include:
1844: Henry Gore
1870 Thomas Bellew
1878 William Morris
1891 William Turner
1903 Charles Henry Painter
1907 Walter T. Lewis
1926 Mrs Kate E. Piff (beer retailer)
1939,1955 Charles Frederick Tanner