The History of the Arden Arms
The land on which the present ‘Arden Arms’ pub stands was originally a market garden owned by the Raffald family, who had been florists, gardeners and seedsmen in Stockport since the sixteenth century.
The garden was put to several commercial uses besides cultivation with records of a livestock market, a corn mill and also an inn, the ‘Blue Stoops’, built in 1650 (stoops or scoops meaning ‘cup‘)
In 1760, John Raffald handed ownership of the garden to his brother, George Snr. and took up the position of head gardener at Arley Hall in Cheshire. There he met Elisabeth Raffald and married her in 1763. Elisabeth later wrote one of England‘s earliest & most famous cookbooks ‘The Experienced English Housekeeper’, more of which you can read by following this link.
It was John and Elisabeth’s nephew, George Raffald Junior, who built the present ‘Arden Arms’ pub in 1815. In return for ceding a portion of field to the town to widen Millgate, then a narrow ditch between buildings, he was granted the right to build a larger public house on the site of the ‘Blue Stoops’.
The brand new ’Arden Arms’ was built in 1815, in the contemporary late Georgian style. A print of Millgate in the mid 19th century, reproduced in Heginbotham’s ’History of Stockport’, shows the pub looking distinctly modern compared to the thatched dwellings on the opposite side of the road. (see the slideshow of photographs on the Home Page )
In 1889 the ’Arden’ was bought by Robinson’s Brewery and in 1908 they set about the first and last major ‘modernisation’ of the pub. The scheme involved the construction of the stabled courtyard to the rear and side of the building, alterations to the ground floor windows and interior work to create bench seating in the snug & vault.
And so it remains to this day, save for the building of two small extensions at the rear to house inside toilets and a catering kitchen. Much of the credit for the survival of the interior must be given to Jack and Beryl May, whose long , successful tenancy from 1963 no doubt ensured that the brewery felt no need to ‘modernise’ the pub to attract more business
The interior of the pub today is included in the CAMRA National Inventory, a list compiled by the lobbying group of the only remaining 250 pub interiors (out of over 60,000) in Great Britain that remain of outstanding heritage interest.
Make sure on your visit to the ‘Arden’ that you note the classic multi roomed layout of the pub, the fine curved wooden bar, the original tiled floors and the tiny snug you can only reach by being invited through the bar. Be sure to poke your head through the back door to see the cobbled courtyard, now a beer garden. And if you come often enough perhaps someone will be kind enough to lead you down the steep stairs to the cellar to visit the mortuary slabs, testament to the time when inquests were held at this historic pub.