The Old George Inn, Salisbury

By Jill Morgan

Old George Inn, Salisbury
Old George Inn, Salisbury

This 3-storey Grade I listed building in Salisbury’s High Street now serves as one of the entrances to a shopping mall. But in its previous life, it hosted some famous names. Shakespeare in 1608, Oliver Cromwell in 1645, diarist Samuel Pepys in 1668, and Charles Dickens in 1844.

But there are some less well-known individuals associated with the Old George Inn, who deserve a mention. In March 1850 one Jesse Griffen, submitted this application to the Salisbury diocese:

I Jesse Griffen… do hereby certify that a large room in the George yard high street in the parish of St Thomas Salisbury is intended forthwith to be used as a place of religious worship by an assembly or congregation of Protestants.

The ‘large room’ was being registered for worship by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a legal requirement at the time for all ‘Dissenters’ from the Church of England).

Jesse Griffen was born in Steeple Ashton, north of Salisbury, and his name appears in 1849 as a priesthood holder performing baptisms in the branch there.

Membership records for the Salisbury branch do not appear to have survived, but these are some of the other individuals associated with the town who were also early members of the Church.

Three siblings from the Blake family: Emma who was baptised in 1850 and emigrated in 1851; Elizabeth, her sister, who emigrated in 1873 with husband Richard and three daughters; their brother Benjamin, baptised in 1851 with his wife Harriet. They emigrated in 1853 with their five children. Benjamin and Harriet had lived on the High Street in Salisbury.

Hannah Sophia Du Fossee, also born in Salisbury; her husband William Smith was from Steeple Ashton. They married in April 1862 and just one week later set sail for New York.

The world is unlikely to celebrate these individuals as important visitors to the Old George. But they were early converts who accepted the truths of the restored gospel and helped to establish the Church in the Salisbury area.