The Mermaid stood in Mermaid Yard now gone. The yard stood between Preston
Street and Coombe Street with access via Preston Street. Today the location can only be imagined as
behind Grendon Buildings in Preston Street.
The Inn was just about as important as the New Inn in the High street.
It was a major terminus for the carrier services with destinations all over the South West of England. Pickford and Co., who are listed as rail carriers in 1859 had an office in Mermaid Yard.
The yard was obviously huge because despite it being used as a "bus station", it also housed Norman Stone and Co., who were brewers. They also had premises in City Road. In 1836, the Exeter Brewery were also housed in the yard, Joseph Brutton carrying on his business also listed by Pigot (1830) at Second Back Lane.
It was mentioned in a letter of 1548 relating to the increasing popularity of Catholicism.
It's stone sculptured mantlepiece bore the date 1632.
In 1666, the Inn issued trade tokens, AT THE MAIREMAID WW / IN. EXON 1666.
In 1880 when Dymond wrote his 'Old Inns and Taverns of Exeter', the yard was occupied by 2 large blocks of 'industrial dwellings'.
The Inn had a huge oaken staircase with carved handrails with large landings adjoining assembly rooms. Other large rooms were available for 'Quality' folk. The assembly room was 56 ft long and 17 ft wide.
The likes of you and me would not have been welcome. However, not all was rosy. The innkeeper, a Mr Blacking was attacked by a customer according to the EFP 4th sept 1828.
Besley (1828), lists Joseph Bleeching resident, White (1850), John Clynick and Trewman (EPJ 1859), James Marks.
Nicola Saunders informs me that James Marks ran the pub between 1854 and 1861.
In the 1871 census he is shown living at 19, Sun Street, a short distance from the inn.
Edward Hiff was the owner in 1764 and the inn was leased from J.G. Wilcocks in 1847. The EFP also suggest that a Mr Turner was resident in 1790.
Stuart Callon Copyright ©2002