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The Eagle dates back to at least the mid 1800's, possibly earlier... We believe that is was purpose built as a public house and has gone through many changes over the years.
Taken in 1904, this picture has the Old Post Office on the left in the foreground with the Bakery next door (note the pole for the village telegraph installed in the early 1890’s), then the Village Stores, the Unicorn and The Eagle. Home Farm Barn in the background is covered with posters advertising local events.
Believed to have been taken in the 1930's, Mrs Bush (the Landlady) is standing outside The Eagle which was still a Steward & Patteson tied house. Ernest James Bush was the landlord from 1929 – 1937 and centre forward for the Hockham Football Team.
This is an early picture of The Eagle believed to be from 1911, celebrating the Coronation of King George V, with bunting across the street and Union Jacks flying in the breeze.
The Eagle in 1944 with the village school and playground opposite. Note the petrol pumps once part of The Eagle's sales portfolio!
This aerial photo from 1952 shows The Eagle before it was altered and extended in the 1980's. Where the car park stands today is the Unicorn Garage and the large dark roofed building behind was for a while a glass company. Major alterations took place in 1982, when the bar was extended, new indoor toilets were built and the car park was laid out as it is today.
Records tell us that following the Black Death in 1348 the number of recorded brewers declined in most towns and villages, but Hockham bucked that trend. In fact the number of brewers in Hockham actually increased with ale being brewed and consumed inside proper ale-houses rather than being sold and consumed outside the brewers house.
In 1367 records show that fines were imposed on four Hockham brewers because they sold ale inside their establishments, giving substance to the fact that Hockham appears to be one of the earliest recorded rural examples of the development of the public house.
By 1900 Hockham had 4 pubs. The oldest was the Lion (formerly the White Horse) followed by the Eagle, The Crown and a beer house called the Unicorn. Of these the Unicorn closed in the early 1900’s, The Crown in the 1930’s and the Lion in the 1970’s, leaving Hockham with just the one remaining pub, The Eagle. The Eagle is recorded as being in business in the 1850’s and the building design bears a close resemblance to some of the railway taverns built in this part of South West Norfolk, in fact the railway actually opened in this area in 1869.
Most of its life The Eagle has been a tied property, in the mid 1890's it was owned by Steward and Patteson of Norwich who were taken over by Watney Mann in 1967, Watney Mann changed their name in East Anglia to Norwich Brewery in 1976. Then after a brief period as a Free House in the 1990's the Eagle was sold to Conquest Inns who in turn were taken over by Punch Taverns a few months later. It was returned to a Free House when it was bought by Aaron Lambert in 2013.
Interested in Norfolk Pubs? Check out the Norfolk Public Houses Website
Research & Pictures Chris Garrod