The first mention I have found so far of this abode come from Kelly’s Directory for 1847 quoting a William Coleman as a Beer Retailer. The Public House is mentioned on a Sale poster:-

Triplow, Cambridgeshire, Valuable Freehold Estate,
to be sold by Auction by Wentworth & Son
at the Saracen’s Head public-house, Triplow,
on Thursday, March 16th, 1848,
at six o’clock in the evening,
unless previously disposed of by private contract.

William Coleman is still quoted as beer retailer in 1851 in the History Gazetteer of Cambridge, and the census of that year names him as publican of The Saracen’s Head, it also notes that he is aged 55 and his wife Mary is 48 years old. In the same house living with them is Henry Gambie, grandson, aged 5 years and William Gambie, grandson aged 9 years. There is also a lodger Mr George Perrin aged 64 years, an agricultural labourer.

In Kelly’s Directory of 1858, a Joseph Coleman is also listed as beer retailer. He is 39 years of age and is also an agricultural labourer, his wife Mary is 34 and their daughter Selina, 14years old is listed in the census as a scholar. Although Joseph is not William’s son , he is related. The 1861 census shows us that William Coleman is 64 and an agricultural labourer and ran a public house; his wife Mary is 55. This is the last mention of this public house in the records I have researched. There is a further mention of William and Mary in the 1871 census, who were then living in Middle Street with their grandson William Gambie and Elizabeth his wife and their children Charles and Henry who was 25 years old and an agricultural labourer. The last mention of William and Mary appears in the Cambridge Chronicle in 1872:-

Excerpt from The Cambridge Chronicle Saturday September 21st 1872:


On Wednesday evening, the dress of an old lady of this village, named Mary Coleman, who has passed the allotted three score years and ten, caught fire and she was burned so severely as to cause death to supervene in about 24 hours. An Inquest is to be held today (Saturday).

Cambridge Chronicle Saturday September 28th 1872:

The inquest on the body of Mary Coleman, whose death we announced last week, was held on Saturday before C.W.Palmer, Esq., deputy coroner. It transpired that the deceased was 71 years of age, and that her husband is childish. On Wednesday, the 18th, the married daughter of the deceased went to the house where her mother and father lived, when she found that her mother’s clothes had by some means caught fire, and that she was burnt across the loins, up her back and upon her legs. Mr Patterson was sent for, and prescribed for deceased, but she gradually sank from her injuries, and died on the following day, at about 5 o’clock. The deceased told a neighbour that she was trying to get a cup of tea. The husband, being helpless himself, could render no assistance. The jury returned an open verdict to the effect that death resulted from burns, but that there was no evidence to show how the clothes caught fire.


I have found more evidence regarding the Shoulder of Mutton Public House. William Lodge was the son of Thomas Lodge and had taken over as publican by 1871; he is also noted as being a Blacksmith in Little Thriplow. In 1872 he is listed as a voter qualified as a ratepayer (House and Land), The Shoulder of Mutton.

Kelly’s Directory of 1873 shows Mr Henry Course as Victualler of the Shoulder of Mutton and Coal Merchant, so the pub had changed hands. Kelly’s entries for 1876 and 1879 described him as a beer retailer. In 1885 he was listed in the Harston Polling District (Parish of Thriplow) list as a voter in occupation of the public house, The Shoulder of Mutton. In the licensing list of the Petty Sessions he was also shown as a farmer. This document gives some interesting details; the type of user was ‘Saturday and Sunday nights, labourers’’ the rateable value is £16, the Brewers as Phillips and Co. of Royston and the house is described as having 4 bedrooms, 2 public rooms, 1 stable, 1 front entrance, 1 back entrance and no urinal! The polling list mentioned the Shoulder of Mutton again in 1913 and 1915. Maybe the first world war and the consequent shortage of men put an end to the Shoulder of Mutton.

Geoff Axe