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Horndon History Hunt

The Bell Inn

The Bell 1.jpg

This old inn is a building dating from the mid to late fifteenth century with alterations made in the sixteenth century and other improvements made over the years. It is a timber framed building with some plaster walls, and has a peg-tile roof with some of the tiles dating from the seventeenth century. The building adjoining The Bell on the south side was formerly a cottage dating from the eighteenth century, possibly earlier, which was naturally called Bell Cottage. It has been used as living accommodation, and for some time as a shop, and is now part of the Bell Inn with the gardens of the former cottage used to help with the extension of the car park.

Back in the horse and cart days The Bell could accommodate thirty-five people and the balcony over the coaching entrance would've been used to transfer luggage directly from the coach roof on to balcony and vice versa. The coaching entrance from the road was closed to vehicles when the modern carpark was improved with a new entrance made under the archway leading into the building. In the days of horse drawn coaches a coach called Perseverance called on Mondays and Fridays at half-past-six in the morning and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at half-past-seven the take would-be travellers up to the Bull Inn, Whitechapel. This coach was regularly used by farmers who travelled up to the hay and corn market which stood in the centre of the road at Aldgate.


In 1901 or 1902, when Fred Turnell was publican, an unusual custom was started at The Bell... A hot cross bun was fastened to the rafters. This has continued until today and during the war years when hot cross buns were not available due to rationing, a concrete bun was made and hung in it's correct position. Whether this shows a connection with The Widow's Son, a public house at Bromley-by-Bow where there is a similar custom is unknown, but there used to be a clock in the bar at the Bell which was made in Crisp Street, not far from The Widow's Son. Maybe Fred Tunstall was a publican there before he came to Horndon on the Hill.


Look up at The Bell's sign and you'll notice some Latin writing which translates as follows: Vivo Voco "I call for the living", Mortuos Plango "I toll for the dead", Fulguro Frango "I shiver for the lightning"

Words adapted from: Tinworth, W.M., Saffron Cider and Honey: A Town Trail of Horndon on the Hill, Horndon on the Hill Society (1985)

Photos provided by residents of Horndon on the Hill. To see full quality photos visit

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