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Built by the Benson family in 1840 with the intention of catching the passing trade brought about by the opening of the new Turnpike Road, Aston House, later to be renamed The Mitre, was on the site previously occupied by Hodge's Tenement demolished to make way for the new building. Unfortunately, with the rebuilding of the Angel Hotel following a fire in 1830, no advantage accrued to the new business as the Angel had been in the perfect position to take advantage of any increased traffic, and they had cornered the market.

A major fire having destroyed the vicarage, the Benson Family decided to make use the Mitre as a replacement vicarage, and it was to continue in this role for the next 40 years until the construction of the new vicarage in the 1880s. After the family moved out, the Mitre, still owned by Rev. J.P. Benson, became Mitre Farm and operated as a Dairy for some years, and it was certainly a dairy in 1894, when Charles Frost was the Dairyman.

Mrs Burgess recalls that her mother had two sisters, Harriet, who married Mr Amos Maire, and Kate, who married Mr Charles Partridge. Before their marriage, Charles Maire and their brother Charles, who had a clubfoot, took on the Mitre as a dairy, and the Directory of 1902 shows Mrs Harriet Maire as the Dairyman. In the Directory of 1930, it was still operating as a Dairy with Reginald Manley listed as the Dairyman.

In 1936, Miss Benson offered it to the village, together with 23 acres of land, as an endowment for a public hall. This offer after careful consideration was not accepted, but when in 1944, the family repeated the offer it was accepted and John Benson gave The Mitre Farm, consisting of a Cottage, farm buildings and 29 acres of land to trustees, Rev J A S Castlehow and Ernest Hutchings. This gift was for the expressed purpose of setting up a Charitable Trust to provide social and recreational facilities for the inhabitants of Witheridge, and its immediate neighbourhood. The trustees formed the Mitre Club, and the first committee contained representatives of many interested parties.

Mr H J F Partridge: the Parish Council
Mr J Woollacott: the Parish Council
Mr E J Hutchings JP: the Parish Council
Rev J A S Castlehow: the Parochial Church Council
Mr C Maire: the Congregational Church
Mr A L Knight: the Methodist Church
Mr J H Dryer: the Church of England School
Alderman Lake JP: the Council School
Mr G Palmer: the British Legion (local branch)
Mr E J Darch: the Boy Scouts (local troop)
Mr R Vicary: the Air Training Corps
Miss Christine Selley: the Girls Training Corps
Mr J Adams: the Young Farmers Club (local)
Mr R Cox: the Farmers Union (local branch)
Miss Constance Selley: the Women's Institute
Miss A Trawin: the Local Nursing Association
Mr H J Leach: the Bowling Club
Mrs Sillifant: the Tennis Club

Later it was realised that the Mitre would not make a village hall, if only because there was no big function room. The trustees therefore sold the Mitre and all the land, with the exception of one field known as Way's Field and originally as First Lime Close. The money from the sale was invested in the name of the Witheridge Parish Hall. Finally, in the 1970s the Mitre became a pub thereby fulfilling the role for which it had originally been built, and in the process providing a good and congenial base for local skittles, darts and pool teams.

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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