Copyright 2011 Retro Dreams Ltd & Jolly Farmers. All rights reserved

Gates Lodge, Jolly Farmers, Fressingfield, SUFFOLK, IP21 5SJ  - ENGLAND

01379-58 61 66 - 07983 491014

email: [email protected]

Gates Lodge - Fressingfield

 Self catering in rural Suffolk


copyright Retro Dreams Ltd 2018



Gates Lodge is named after “Gates Yard” which was a former name of what is now the Jolly Farmers built around 1590 as a substantial thatched farmhouse, probably owned originally by the church and tenanted but this is unproven).  “Gates Yard” was probably so named due to being adjacent to the gates to the common and was a thriving business with a Stud, Piggery, barns, productive gardens, a smokehouse (attached to the East side of Gates Lodge), cart lodges, stables & mill (located on the common, demolished 1934), also land opposite originally used for growing grain, presumably which was milled at the mill on the common, known locally as Mill Green.  In the later years pigs were kept on this land until it was sold to Yew Tree Farm in the 1960s.


The Beer House and the arrival of Gates Lodge


Over the years there were many different outbuildings situated in Gates Yard. Gates Lodge was probably purpose-built as a cart-lodge, stable and keg storage in around the time that the farmhouse became a Beer-House around 1830. The abolition of beer tax in 1828 saw a huge rise in “Beer Houses”. It is believed that the Jolly Farmers became a Beer House shortly after this time, when it was named “The Cherry Tree Inn” until around 1840 when it then changed its name to Jolly Farmers, possibly upon the death of James Clutten, the previous owner-Farmer who it is believed started the Cherry Tree Inn. The business was then bought  by Lot Watson, a Gentleman Farmer of Watson’s Farm, opposite. On the road-facing external wall you can still see some original signage brackets inset into the brickwork.


In the early days when Gates Lodge was built, it had 3 separate “rooms”, separated by internal brick walls and access doors. What is now the bedroom was a stable for the working horse, which would have almost definitely been a Shire and then a Suffolk Punch. Before the conversion, the whitewashed walls bore evidence of the horsemen of the time noting in pencil what looked to be the measurements of the horses and a signature and date on the far wall bearing the inscription “John Mayhew, February 1880” The floor of the stable was made of “chocolate block” briquettes and each one has been carefully removed mostly forming the patio in the garden of Gates Lodge.


As well as working on the land, the horse of Gates Lodge must have also traveled to the local breweries mainly at Diss to pick up beer kegs (which were stored in what is now the kitchen area) ready to replenish the keg room in Jolly Farmers. From evidence unearthed on site, these breweries included Costling & Co, Doubleday & co and later Steward & Patteson. Several Large horse-shoes have also been found.


The absence of mechanised farming and long licensing hours without the need for a full public house licence meant that there was an abundance of customers, mainly from the farms and fields. Jolly Farmers was a well known "drover's inn" with cattle being left tethered on the common on their way to market at Halesworth and Harleston. There are some lovely old stories from some of the locals, particularly relating to WW2 airfields as Metfield Air base (station 366) , home to the USAF 8th Air Force's 353th Fighter Group and 491st Bomb Group, and lastly the 1409th Army Air Force Base Unit - was just across the fields and the pub was regularly frequented by US airmen and the Irish navvies who helped with the associated building works.


Of course with the arrival of the combine the turnover rapidly declined. Unfortunately Jolly Farmers was closed on 6th November 1968 by Watney Mann on economic grounds.


The conversion has been carried out to an extremely high standard in Summer 2011. To stand for so long without major repair too is also a credit to the original builders. Oak beams have been retained and the only brickwork that has been added is in the old entrances - where the French doors are, and kitchen, the original reclaimed bricks true to the era having been sourced from a Farm in Saxtead.

DSCI0001 horse hands 28 s and p conv feb 4 DSC02578 jolly farmers pub gents

1928 Steward & Patteson

beer bottle top

discovered in ditch

Markings made by horsemen, in stable, possibly horse heights in hands, c.late 1800s

Markings made by customers and or carters, on cart-lodge entrance, dates unknown

Sam King (front standing row first left) Landlord, and pub regulars, 1939. Gates Lodge in the background.

copyright Retro Dreams Ltd 2016