The Grapes Inn in Railway Street has architectural details which date its construction to the late 18th Century. Its single storey southern end has its own separate external staircase and a fine stone flagged floor seems to have been constructed a bit earlier. Internally the property has been much altered, but compared to many pubs still has some original features.The stone vaulted cellar under the rear part of the building may also be of earlier construction. The two-storey part of the building has a very large loft area, floored out with original wide timber boarding and approached by a winding timber staircase. This could have accommodated seasonal workers or poorer travellers who would share a communal room.
Deeds for the building go back as far as 1749 when it was referred to as a ‘cottage house or tenement with a brew house’. It appears that the present building was probably built or re-built in its present form shortly after that. Historical map evidence suggests that the present building has been an inn or pub throughout the 19th and 20th Century. The wording ‘The Three Tuns Inn’ appears very imprecisely marked on the 1856 historical map. It was operated at that time by a Mrs Hannah Medd. An affidavit signed in the 1920s confirming that the Grapes was formerly the Three Tuns also confirms the name change. Local directories indicate that the name was changed to ‘The Grapes Inn’ before 1890. Early maps up until 1913 show a range of outbuildings to the north side of what is now the pub yard, suggesting outbuildings for small village farms or smallholdings. These could have been stabling, as the name ‘inn’ implies that overnight accommodation would have been provided, as was usually the case in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
The outbuildings shown on the 1913 ordnance survey map have disappeared by the later 1960s version, and the pub yard is larger taking in some of the land to the south west. By this time a parcel of land shown on previous maps as being part of the adjacent Old Rectory had been included within the boundaries of the Grapes car park. The connection to the cellarage is cramped and this could have been built at a different time from the main part of the building.
The Rev. William Walker in his description of the village in 1845, mentions ‘two good inns’. These were ‘The Three Tuns’ and ‘The Howard Arms’ located on the Malton Road. The number of local drinking houses was drastically reduced in the late 1890s when there was an active branch of The Total Abstinence Society in the village, enthusiastically encouraged by the then Lady Carlisle. The Grapes was one of a small number of pubs which escaped closure because it was not owned by the Castle Howard Estate.
Some in the village will remember when the single storey part of the building was a butchers shop prior to the second world war. It was run by a Mr Hutchinson, but the shop closed when he was called up for military service.
The pub was sold in 1878 to James Kirk, Brewer of Sherburn, when it became a ‘tied house’, later owned by the J.W. Cameron Group. For the first time since then it is now independently owned, having been recently bought from the pub holding company by Leigh and Catharine Spooner.
Text by Margaret MacKinder