This public house was established around 1830 and was initially called the Grocer’s Arms. Many public houses, taverns and alehouses began to appear in towns and villages at this time as a result of the Beerhouse Act which abolished the beer tax and extended opening hours for licensed premises. The government at the time was keen to promote the consumption of beer instead of spirits, particularly gin in order to improve the drunkenness and unsociable behaviour which often prevailed. For a relatively small fee of 2 guineas, a proprietor could obtain a licence to trade which was controlled by the local justice of the peace.
The Grocer’s Arms was described as a coach-house, with garden, stables and offices and was located on the eastern end of the village but within the parish boundaries of Ugborough. It derived its name from the patronage bestowed upon St Peter’s Church at Ugborough by the Grocers’ Company under the trust of Dame Margaret Slaney. The patronage of the Grocers’ Company covered the upkeep of the church buildings and the support of the incumbent.
The Grocers’ Company was originally known as the Guild of Pepperers who were recognised as general traders, buying and selling spices, gold and other luxury goods from Byzantium and the Mediterranean and often using pepper as a form of currency. In 1345 the Guild became the ‘Fraternity of Pepperers’ and 3 years later they officially adopted a new name becoming the ‘The Company of Grossers of London’, derived from a new word in the English vocabulary ‘grosser’, a wholesale dealer buying and selling in gross. The first reference to ‘The Grocers’ Company’ was made in 1376.