The George & Dragon was a two storey timber framed weather boarded building. It was built in the middle of the seventeenth century as two, possibly three cottages. Evidence suggests that the interior walls were covered with lath and plaster. During the renovation work carried out in 1982 it was possible to identify the partitions which divided the early cottages and the chimney stack to the north-west of the building. There were 30 pairs of rafters with a ridgeboard at the apex, suggesting alterations to the roof structure after 1750. The roof is covered in slates.

There are eleven windows on the south of the building some of which form part of the original structure. The George & Dragon is adjacent to St Marys Church. This probably accounts for the large brick wall dividing these 2 properties.

It became a Public House early in the eighteen century, since when it has been the home of some colourful occupants none more so than John Bennewith the Foulness Champion, so called for his expertise as a bare-fist fighter. Bennewith was said to have been a “Giant of a Man”, for sometime in the early nineteenth century he undertook many of his pugilistic encounters in the garden of the George & Dragon. Two of his most outstanding bouts were against “Bullock Bones” from Suffolk and “Rippengale” described as a “Marsh Waller”.

During the nineteenth century Foulness was fortunate to have three successive caring vicars who set about improving the morals and educational standards of the island population. A large proportion of which were fugitives from the law. The improvements included the banning of bare-fist fighting.

Another character was in fact Bennewith’s Mother Amelia who was licensee in the late eighteenth century. The ale-house recognizances show her as the Licensee from 1790 until 1795. From 1798 to 1815 she is shown as the Licensee of the Rochford Hundred Volunteer. Up until this time there had only been two public houses on Foulness Island, the other being the Kings Head. But for the duration of the Napoleonic War a License was granted for a third Public House which in fact housed the Rochford Hundred Volunteer Cavalry, who manned the Coastal Semaphore Station and observed the coast.

Up until 2007 the George & Dragon was the only surviving Public House on Foulness. It was a popular treat and a trip back through time and was frequented by the Islanders, people from the local establishments and visitors from the mainland. All visitors were assured of a unique hospitality which included good beer and wholesome food.

George & Dragon Public House Barling & Wakering Heritage

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