Beman, Charles & Fletcher of Victoria Brewery, Stow-on-the-Wold, were advertising their strong XXX ale for 1s.6d. per gallon in 1841 which was guaranteed to be made from malts and hops alone. Their Double Stout Porter was also said to be of similar purity, singularly rich and fine flavoured. They also offered a table beer at 6d per gallon.

The Victoria Brewery was in the ownership of Richard Gillett and his nephew William by 1861, although it was withdrawn from a sale in a 1879 auction when bidding stopped at £4,800. The business was subsequently acquired by Henry Lowther Barker followed by Edwin Augustus ‘Gussy’ Green.

Victoria Brewery - Stow on the Wold

Courtesy Steve Lawrey Collection

When Cheltenham Original Brewery took over the brewery in 1914 there were 16 pubs in the estate (see list below)

Henry Lowther Barker, Stow on the Wold

Tied Houses:

Bell Inn, The Green, Stow on the Wold (1891) (Henry Lowther Barker is occupier)

Brewery Tavern, Park Street, Stow on the Wold (1891)

Fleece Inn, Back Walls, Stow on the Wold (1891)

Foresters Arms, Moreton in Marsh (leased 1891)

Greyhound Inn, Park Street, Stow on the Wold (leased 1891)

New Inn, Nether Westcote (1891)

Sudeley Arms, Hailes Street, Winchcombe (1891)

The following extensive notes have been compiled by Paul Best. He has kindly given me permission to reproduce them here.
Messrs, Beman, Charles, & Fletcher, beg to announce that they are prepared to supply PURE and GENUINE MALT LIQUOR, in casks of nine gallons and upwards, similar in quality to the celebrated Burton Ales, and guaranteed to be brewed from Malt and Hops alone, Messrs, B. C. and F. will be happy to shew samples to parties favouring them a call at the Brewery.

X Ale, at 1s. per gallon.XX Ale, at 1s 2. per gallon.XXX Ale, at 1s 6d. per gallon.Table Beer, at 6d. per gallon.Terms Cash.

 Source; Jackson’s Oxford Journal. Saturday, July 10th 1841. 

1841 census John Charles. Dwelling; Stow on the Wold.
John Charles. Age 55. Independent. Born; Gloucestershire.
Henry Charles. Age 30. Independent. Born; Gloucestershire.
Joanna Charles. Age 55. Independent. Born; Not in Gloucestershire

Joanna Charles Junr. Age 15. Born; Gloucestershire.
Sarah Holborough. Age 15. Servant to Mr Charles. Born; Gloucestershire.

Note; John Charles died in 1842 his wife and daughter can then be found on the 1851 census living with the Fletcher family.

1841 census William Fletcher. Dwelling; Stow on the Wold.
William Fletcher. Head. Age 30. Common Brewer. Born; Ripley, Derbyshire.
Mary Fletcher. Wife. Age 20. Born; Stow on the Wold.
William Fletcher. Son. Age 10 months. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Hannah Young. Servant. Age 15. Born; Stow on the Wold.

Victoria Ale and Porter Brewery, Stow on the Wold. Beman, Charles, and Fletcher gratefully acknowledge the very large patronage already extended to their unadulterated Ale and Beer. Their DOUBLE STOUT PORTER, of similar purity, singularly rich and fine flavoured, is now ready for delivery. Orders addressed to the Brewery will receive immediate attention.

Source; Oxford Journal Saturday 19th March 1842.

Notice is hereby given, that Partnership lately subsisting between Robert Beman, of Donnington, in the county of Gloucester, Gentleman, John Darby Charles the elder, late of Stow on the Wold, in the same county, Gentleman, deceased, and William Fletcher, of the same place, Gentleman, and afterwards between us the said Robert Beman and William Fletcher, and the undersigned Joanna Charles, of Stow on the Wold aforesaid, Widow, Thomas Swain, of Buckingham, Innkeeper, and John Harris, of Stow on the Wold aforesaid, Draper, the executrix and executors named in and appointed by and acting under the last will and testament of the said John Darby Charles, deceased, and Henry Charles, also of Stow on the Wold aforesaid, Gentleman, heretofore carrying on trade under the style or firm of Beman, Charles, and Fletcher, at Stow on the Wold aforesaid, as Brewers and Maltsters, was, on the 16th day of August instant, so far as regards the said Robert Beman, Joanna Charles, Thomas Swain, and John Harris, dissolved by mutual consent of all parties ; and that all debts owing to the said partnership are to be received by the said William Fletcher and Henry Charles ; and all persons to whom said partnership stands indebted are requested immediately to send in their respective accounts to the said William Fletcher and Henry Charles, by whom alone the said partnership business of Brewers and Maltsters will in future be carried on, at Stow on the Wold aforesaid, in order that the same may be examined and paid by the said William Fletcher and Henry Charles. – Dated this 19th day of August 1847.

Rob. Beman.

William Fletcher.

Joanna Charles.

John Harris.

Thos. Swain.

Henry Charles.

Source; London Gazette issue number 20769 published 31st August 1847.

1851 census William Fletcher. Dwelling; Market Place, Stow on the Wold.
William Fletcher. Head. Age 42. Wine Merchant, Brewer & Maltster. Born; Ripley, Derbyshire.
Mary J. Fletcher. Wife. Age 33. Born; Stow on the Wold.
William C. Fletcher. Son. Age 10. Scholar. Born; Stow on the Wold.
George R. Fletcher. Son. Age 9. Scholar. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Henry T. Fletcher. Son. Age 8. Scholar. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Sophia J. Fletcher. Daughter. Age 4. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Rosa Fletcher. Daughter. Age 8 months. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Joanna L. Charles. Sister in Law. Age 26. Annuitant. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Mary Lamb. Servant. Age 16. Born, Burston Hill, Glos.

Saturday August 30, 1856. Stow on the Wold County Court.
The Court for this month took place on Tuesday the 19th inst. The cause list contained 33 entries, a great number of which were settled privately, and the only case of interest was the following, which occupied the Court five hours. There were at least 150 persons present.

This was an action brought by the plaintiff, a small farmer, of this town, against the defendants, the well-known brewers, to recover the sum of £22.14s.1d., the balance due to him for money spent whilst in their service.
Mr Chessyre, of Cheltenham. appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr R. G. Francis for the defendant.
The following evidence was adduced :-

John Turner deposed – I have been connected with Messrs Charles and Fletcher’s firm for 13 or 14 years, and have had considerable dealings with them ; in the Christmas week, 1850, Mr Fletcher came to me and asked me to go out and take orders for them. I at first refused, but subsequently agreed to do so. He said, “We will pay you either by commission or by the day, and your expenses.” I made my first journey on the 4th January, 1851 ; after delivering my orders, he said I was to put down my time, and they would settle that another day ; he afterwards said, “Oh, Turner, we seem to have lost sight of the business at Stow ; I wish you to go round to the public houses in the evening, but more particularly on market days, and have a glass with the farmers and solicit orders ; you will get yourself better known amongst the customers.” I replied, “That will be very expensive.” Mr Fletcher said, “Never mind that ; keep an account of what you spend, and you shall be paid.” I said, ” Paying my expenses won’t answer my purposes ; I can’t afford to throw away my time upon your business without being remunerated.” He said, he did not wish me to do so ; I was to go on and do the best I could, and when Mr Charles came home they would arrange what they would give me.

Examined  by Mr Chessyre – I commenced spending money on the 6th of January, 1851, and made an entry in my memorandum book, “January 6, 1851, expenses at Stow market in taking orders for Messrs Charles and Fletcher – spent at market, 1s 6d.” I continued to do so until October, 1852; I put money down as I spent it ; the amount of my bill. £1. 15s. 1d., I spent during that time. On the 26th of November, 1852, I delivered a bill of particulars to Mr Charles ; I also mentioned those expenses to Mr Fletcher ; the last time I mentioned them was two or three days before he went to London, in September or October, 1852 ; after Mr Fletcher went to London I discontinued going to market for some time ; one Thursday after I went to the brewery and saw Mr Charles, who said to me, “Turner, how is it you are not cleaned and gone to market.” I said, I had been  to market too much, I had no business there of my own, and spending money on their business, and out of pocket, I didn’t understand. He replied, “You don’t think we want to cheat you out of the money you have spent for us, do you?” I said, “I don’t know ; there is something very strange in the affair ; Mr Fletcher, during the time said he had the books, and could not settle with me, and now he is gone you make the same remark, that you can’t settle with me unless Mr Fletcher is present ; by those means I shall never get my account settled, for Mr Fletcher may come to Stow ten times and I not know of it.”
He again said, “Turner, whatever you spend on our account you shall be paid.” When I took my bill in, in November, 1852, Mr Charles examined it ; it did not contain the items, only the amount, £1 15s. 1d. I also showed him my book ; he looked through it, and said he saw nothing wrong, and told me to go on as usual, and not to be particular in spending 1s or 2s. where I could see a chance of doing business, as he could not go himself. On the 2nd of December, 1852, I again commenced marketing, and continued until November 16, 1854 ; Mr Charles repeatedly saw my book at the brewery ; during that time I had two or three settlements with Mr Charles for journeys. I settled with Mr Fletcher on the 18th of December, 1854 ; previous to his departure for London he said, ” The few journeys you go ; push the customers for money as much as you can, as we want to make up our banking account by the 1st of January next.” I said, “I owe you something.” and we went to the office, and I paid him. On the 20th of December I received a letter with my discharge. I did not see Fletcher or Charles for some time after ; the first interview I had, was with Mr Fletcher, in October 1855, when I sold him barley ; the latter end of October I went to him for the money. I owed him some oats, and he said, you owe me for some oats ; I can stop them out of our account. I replied, “There is quite enough stopped already ; you ought to pay me this account and the other also.” He asked me what other?” I said, the money I had spent in Stow, which ought to have been paid when I had my discharge. He said, “Turner, Mr Charles will be home next month, and we will settle with you.” I saw Mr Fletcher at the brewery in December, 1855, and applied to him for settlement ; he wished me to take it out in beer, I had beer to the value of £2 16s., which I have given credit for. On the 26th April, 1856, I again applied to Mr Charles, and he told me to make out my bill and bring it in. I took it in on the 26th of April ; Mr Fletcher looked at it, and said it was a long one, and wished me to call again and he would settle it. I went again on the 14th of May last, and saw Mr Fletcher, who told me he could not think of paying it, but he would make me an offer if I would accept it. I said, “Then you want to cheat me out of my time, and give me what you think proper out of the money I have spent in getting your business together.” I said, “I shall take nothing less than the money, and if you don’t pay it I shall take proceedings against you.” He replied, that I might do as I liked. The expenses were what I spent, not for time ; I did not drink half that I paid for.

Mr Francis cross-examined this witness at some length, but could not shake his testimony.
By the Judge. I do not understand what you mean when you say that you did not drink half that you paid for.

Witness – The landlord was my customer when I took an order ; I spent money for the good of the house, and treated the company, as is usual in such cases.

John Pullam was next examined, and corroborated the above witness in several material portions of his evidence.

William Turner, plaintiff’s son, was next called, but prevaricated so much that the Judge would not believe him.
This was the plaintiff’s case.

For the defence, Mr Fletcher was then examined, and deposed. – I am partner with Mr Charles. It is an equal partnership ; either party can settle accounts without the other being present, unless it is of importance ; I consider this an unusual account ; Turner was employed by us, some time at daily, and some time at weekly employment. We paid him 2s. 6d. per day, and 3 s per journey ; he was our servant in 1851 and 1852. When he went a journey we found horse and travelling expenses ; his expenses were invariably deducted when cash was paid, either by myself, clerk, or partner ; he was authorized always to deduct his expenses, and to the best of my belief they were always deducted. I knew nothing of the Stow account until last spring. The first notice I had of it was in April last. I recollect it well, having made a pencil mark on (it’s all fudge) Mr Charles and myself were in constant communication with each other, either personally or by letter. I never heard of a bill delivered in 1852. Turner was discharged by me in December, 1854. From September to the end of the year I never gave him orders. His instructions were to receive orders in Stow the same as anywhere else. I have no recollection of giving him any such orders about Christmas, 1850. When Turner brought in his account, I said, I know nothing at all about it, but would consult with Mr Charles upon it. There was very little business in Stow, and such an arrangement with Turner would be very unsatisfactory ; both accounts now produced were settled by me, and nothing was ever mentioned about the Stow account. I sent him his discharge in December, 1854, I don’t know whether I paid him or not then.

Cross examined by Mr Chessyre – I wrote the words in pencil on the bill, “It’s all fudge” before it was filed. I did say to Turner “I knew nothing about it.” I knew that he had no such claim on us. Mr Charles is in South Wales, I did not think it necessary to send to him. I have consulted him verbally and by letter since the claim has been made. Mr Charles is not able to attend to business. I have no recollection of having seen Turner on the 14th of May, I might have done so. If it is the time he brought the bill, I said I would make him a proposition.

The Judge. –  “Mr Fletcher, do you know, Sir, you are upon your oath? Did you see Mr Turner on the 14th of May?”
Witness – “I might have done so”.
The Judge – “Did you see him, Sir?”
Witness – I did if it was when he brought his bill in. I did not say it was too much, and that I would make him an offer. I said, if Turner had omitted to charge us with any little expense on our account, I was willing to make him a present. Mr Charles left the matter entirely in my hands. I do not believe the account. We paid him for his time. I can’t say whether or not he said ” Do you want to cheat me out of the money/” I said, “We are willing to make you an offer without prejudice” He said, “I will take nothing less” and asked me what I would offer. I told him I had not made up my mind ; he then threatened me with proceedings.

I saw him again on the 18th December, before I went to London ; he said nothing about the Stow business then ; I told him to get the debts well up, and he paid me a balance of £22 odd. In October, 1855, I bought some barley off him ; he had previously purchased some oats off me ; the barley came to more money than the oats. I recollect settling accounts with him in October ; he said nothing about the Stow accounts. Mr Charles was absent at that time. I recollect saying I would ask Mr Charles about his claim.

The Judge, again called upon Mr Fletcher to remember the solemn oath he had taken, and said, “You have positively sworn Turner said nothing to you about the Stow account, and yet you recollect saying, you would ask Mr Charles about his claim”

Witness – I don’t know when Mr Charles returned I recollect dates very imperfectly. I cannot recollect whether I had any communication with Mr Charles before the spring. I don’t recall saying “we cannot do business without spending money.” When I receive orders from a customer I generally ask him to have a glass ; 6d, I consider is quite enough to spend on such occasions. On the 18th December he might have said something to me about the Stow account. I have no recollection of his doing so. I did not postpone the Stow account in consequence of the absence of Mr Charles. I never told Turner to keep an account of the Stow business.

Henry Arkell – I was clerk to Messrs Charles and Fletcher from 1852 to 1854. I am not sure as to the dates. Turner was employed by the firm ; he has frequently paid money to me and on those occasions he deducted his expenses, but not his journeys. I don’t remember his mentioning the Stow account to me. I don’t know whether he deducted his Stow expenses. I have heard Mr Charles tell him to go amongst the farmers and have a glass, three or four times. I don’t remember distinctly whether Mr Charles told him to go out in the evening. Mr Charles has told me to go out. I have said, “No ; that is Turner’s business.”

Mr Chessyre and Mr Francis having both addressed the Court on behalf of their respective clients, his Honour gave judgment for the plaintiff for the full amount of his claim and costs.

Source; Oxford Journal 30th August 1856. 

1861 census William Fletcher.

Dwelling; Stow on the Wold.
William Fletcher. Head. Traveller in Hop trade. Age 52 Born; Ripley Derbyshire.
Mary J. Fletcher. Wife. Age 42. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Henry T. Fletcher. Son. Age 18. No Employ. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Sophia J. Fletcher. Daughter. Age 14. Scholar. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Rosa Fletcher. Daughter. Age 10. Scholar. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Francis C. Fletcher. Son. Age 7. Scholar. Born; London.
Frederick Fletcher. Son. Age 5. Scholar. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Joanna Charles. Mother in Law. Age 76. Fundholder. Born Uppingham, Rutland.
Joanna L. Charles. Sister in Law. Age 35. Fundholder. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Mary A. Jameson. Governess. Age 30. Born; Faversham, Kent.
Ellen Clifford. Governess. Age 16. Born; Stow on the Wold.

1871 census William Fletcher. Dwelling; 10 Bathwick Hill, Bath.
William Fletcher. Head. Age 62. Commercial Traveller Hops. Born; Ripley, Derbyshire.
Mary J. Fletcher. Wife. Age 53. Born; Stow on the Wold.
William C. Fletcher. Son.  Age 30. Brewer. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Rosa Fletcher. Daughter. Age 19. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Francis C. Fletcher. Son. Age 17. Brewers Agent. Born; London.
Frederick Fletcher. Son. Age 16. Born; Stow on the Wold.
Mary Harris. Servant. Age 20. Upper Servant. Born; Devonshire.
Mary Lloyd. Servant. Age 20. Under Servant. Born: Somerset.

At the time of writing in October 2012 it still needs to establish when William Fletcher sold Victoria Brewery, Stow on the Wold, however research has revealed it was between 1861 and 1865. The Oxford Journal August 1865 has this small advert;

PUBLIC HOUSE to LET, in a Market Town in Oxfordshire. Coming-in easy. Apply to R. and W. Gillett, Victoria Brewery, Stow on the Wold.

5th August 1865. It should be noted that R. and W. Gillett were already brewing in Stow by 1861.

1861 census Richard Gillett. Dwelling; Sheep Street, Stow on the Wold.
Richard Gillett. Head. Age 52. Brewer & Maltster. Born; Brize Norton, Oxon.
Anne Gillett. Wife. Age 47. Born; Naunton, Glos.
William Gillett. Son. Age 16. Scholar. Born; Gloucestershire.
Anne Gillett. Daughter. Age 14. Scholar. Born; Gloucestershire.
Frank Gillett. Grandson. Age 14 months. Born; Brize Norton, Oxon.
Martha Cox. Servant. Age 16. Born; Oxon.
Jane Lock. Servant. Age 14. Born; Stow on the Wold.
William Gillett. Son in Law. Age 29. Partner with Richard Gillett. Born; Brize Norton, Oxon.

Richard Gillett describes himself as a “farmer of 295 acres employing 10 Labourers 2 Women and 22 Boys” on the 1871 census.

WANTED – A thoroughly competent Man to undertake the Management of Two Malthouses, 25 quarters and 10 quarters respectively. Address Gillett and Toms, Victoria Brewery, Stow on the Wold.
Source; Oxford Journal 21st July 1874.


MARRIAGE FESTIVITIES — The marriage took place Bicester Church of Mr Henry Lewis Toms, of Victoria Brewery, Stow on the Wold, to Miss Paxton, daughter of Mr Jones Paxton, auctioneer and estate agent, in the presence of a large assemblage of relations and friends and neighbours, on the morning of Thursday, September 25th. Etc Etc…
Mr Toms was, by the men of his employ, presented with a silver salver, which has on it the following inscription:- “Presented to Henry Lewis Toms, by the employees of the Victoria Brewery, Stow on the Wold.”

 Source; Short extraction from a full wedding report published by the Bucks Herald – Saturday 4th October 1874.

Victoria Brewery was put up for auction in 1879, where it reached £4,800 before being withdrawn.

Source; Oxford Journal 12th July 1879.

A Mr W. V Evans, an employee of Green’s Stow Brewery, had a slight mishap on the night of Sunday 5th July 1898 when, after retiring to bed, he sleep-walked straight through his bedroom window and sustained injuries on the pavement below. Whether or not he had been partaking in the products of his employment is not reported.

Edwin Augustus Green, Stow Brewery, Park Street, Stow on the Wold

Acquired by the Cheltenham Original Brewery Co. Ltd. In 1914. Brewery offices intact. Yard buildings converted to multiple retail units in 1989.

Tied Houses:

Bell Inn, The Green, Stow on the Wold (1903)

Black Horse, Naunton (1903)

Brewery Tavern, Park Street, Stow on the Wold (1903)

Farmers Arms, Maugersbury (1903)

Fleece Inn, Back Walls, Stow on the Wold (1903)

Foxhill Inn, Tally Ho, Naunton Downs (1903)

Fox Inn, Broadwell (1903)

Fox Inn, Lower Swell (1903)

Frogmill Inn, Shipton Solers, Nr. Shipton Oliffe (1903)

Horse and Groom, Upper Oddington (1903)

New Inn, Nether Westcote (1903)

Puesdown Inn, Hazleton (1903)

Spotted Pig, Oddington (leased 1903)

Sudeley Arms, Hailes Street, Winchcombe (1903)

Wheatsheaf Inn, Broadwell (1903)

White Lion, Market Square, Stow on the Wold (1903)

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