The first landlord of the Cherry Tree Inn was a young man from Bix called Joel Pembroke who ran a small public house from one of three adjoined cottages situated in a cherry orchard on the current site. Both the orchard and the cottages were owned by James Champion, a Nettlebed grocer who almost certainly set up what was then known as The Traveller’s Friend as a branch of his own business, recruiting Joel to be his manager. It was common then for public houses in small villages to combine the roles of both “beer house” and grocers.
There are no surviving records to show w
Joel and Martha’s wedding took place in the church of St Marythe Virgin in Ipsden. The area had been a centre for non-conformist “dissenters” since the late 17th century and the Independent Chapel was built in 1815, only yards from Joel’s home, but our own parish church of St John the Evangelist would not be built until 1846, two years after Joel and Marthawere married.
The best man at their wedding was Charles Turner, who also worked for Champion and lived in Stoke Row. His father was listed in the census as a man of independent means and when he died in 1850, he left Charles with an inheritance. It may not be a coincidence that this sudden wealth came at the same time that Joel bought the cottages and orchard and set himself up as a “grocer and beer retailer” in his own right, quite possibly with Charles Turner as his financial backer.
Joel was photographed posing in front of his new business in a rather jaunty pose, with Martha off to one side along with one of their two daughters, either Ma
Joel was clearly a man with ambition even making an appearance in the 1852 Oxfordshire edition of Gardner’s Directory as a “beer retailer”, one of only ten inhabitants of Stoke Row thought worthy of note. But he was sadly unable to take his ambitions any further
Possibly as a result of a promise to his dying friend, or perhaps to protect his investment, Charles Turner took care of Joel’s widow Martha and they were married at St Mary’s in Reading on 14 April 1853. Their first child Isabella was born on 23 December 1853. When Isabella was baptised, Charles Turner gave his profession as “Victualler”, indicating that he and Martha were now running the pub together. Their second child John was born a year later. But it would be another brief marriage for Martha. Charles died in the summer of 1857.
Nevertheless, the money he left her was put to good use a year later with an expansion that c
Although the expansion of the Cherry Tree may have fulfilled her first husband’s ambitions, Martha had little time to enjoy the results of their joint labour. She died in the 1860s and the pub changed hands but even today it retains the essence of Joel and Martha’s beer house and grocers.