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Start of a new era: Royal Oak Inn re-opens under new management.

A History of The Royal Oak

How The Royal Oak Inn came to be owned by the Parish Council

Many visitors are interested to know a little of the history of the Royal Oak Inn. The building is documented as being in existence since 1510. There is evidence that there was almost certainly a brew house here from as early as 1102. The pub was originally owned by the church and was known as The Church House Inn.

From some point during the 19th Century the task of letting the pub was given to the Guardians of the Poor of the Tavistock Union. However, the Meavy Parish meeting retained responsibility for choosing the tenant. Since the merger of the parishes of Meavy, Sheepstor and Walkhampton to form Burrator Grouped Parish in 1974 the building has been owned by Burrator Parish. The Landlord leases the pub from the parish and the lease income is used to ensure a low parish precept, part of the council tax for properties within Burrator Parish Council.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Royal Oak Inn, though owned by Meavy Parish, was still let by the Guardians of the Poor of the Tavistock Union. Meavy at the time was not a Parish Council, it was a rural parish having a Parish Meeting. A parish meeting could not conduct such business as letting a property, but the Tavistock Union could under the provisions of the ‘Union and Parish Property Act 1835’.

However the Local Government Act 1894 gave provision for a County Council to give powers to a Parish Meeting any of the powers conferred on a Parish Council. Amongst these powers was the right to let property and conduct business on behalf of the parish ratepayers. But it wasn’t until 1903 that the ratepayers of the parish decided it was time for them to manage their own affairs.

At the Meavy Parish Meeting of 7th August 1903 a resolution was put with respect to parish property: “That this parish meeting of the ratepayers of the Parish of Meavy desires the County Council of Devon to confirm upon the Parish Meeting of the said parish of Meavy the powers contained in sub-section 10 of section 19 of the Local Government Act of 1894”. In other words, they wanted to take over letting the Royal Oak Inn. Devon County Council conferred the required powers in an order dated 26th September 1903.

But clearly things moved slowly in Meavy at this time, because it is not until 25th January 1904 that a Parish Meeting was held to consider the order. At this meeting a sub-committee was appointed to call upon Mr Bickle the tenant of the Royal Oak Inn to confer with him as to the terms of his tenancy. This sub-committee consisted of Ian Northmore, Isaac Moses and Rev. Richard Tyacke. In the transfer to the Parish Council of Meavy a condition was made that one room should always be available for use by the Parish Church Council.

Perhaps there was dissatisfaction among the ratepayer that a sub-committee of three was too small, we will never know. But at the next Parish Council Meeting on 26th February this sub-committee was enlarged. The minutes show that a proposal was made by Mr R. B. Johns seconded by Mr Bickle: “that Mr Ian Daw and the two overseers, namely W. Williams and James Northmore, be added to the sub-committee appointed at the last meeting, and that it be left to the sub-committee to make such alterations in the sanitary arrangements of the Royal Oak Inn as shall satisfy the licensing justices.” The bill of 11 Guinees for the resulting sanitary improvements was paid from the rates.

This sub-committee was the precursor of what is now called ‘The Royal Oak Inn Committee’. The Inn has been the responsibility of ratepayers for over 100 years.

The building remains the property of Burrator Parish Council. So far as I am aware it is the only pub in England & Wales owned by a Parish Council. The current landlord, Ms Jo Rowe, leases the pub from the Parish Council. Originally the balance of funds from the lease where intended to be used for the benefit of the residents of the Parish of Meavy, but now the funds are just used to keep down the Burrator Parish Precept which is added to the council tax for properties within Burrator Parish Council.

Michael Parle

(ref. Meavy Parish Meeting minute books, items no. 1255/1 and 2727/10 held at Plymouth and West Devon Record Office)


The Inn, the church, and the village green


Meavy Oak Tree and Village Green, c1830
Meavy, the oak tree, church and pub, c1834, from a drawing by N.M.Condy


Meavy Green and Royal Oak Inn, painting c1900
from a painting c1900


Meavy Village Green c1906
Meavy Village Green c1906


Meavy Village Green 1934
Meavy Village Green 1934


Snow on Meavy Village Green, December 2009
Snow on Meavy Village Green, December 2009


Royal Oak Inn with church behind
Royal Oak Inn with the church behind, January 2024