The Chequers Inn is a historic countryside pub tucked away in the picturesque village of Thompson, in the heart of rural Breckland, between Watton & Thetford. It has a bar, two dining areas, three bedrooms and a large garden at the rear with picnic tables and children’s play equipment. Dogs are welcome in the garden and bar.
The family run pub is owned by Richard McDowall who has worked as Head Chef since 1998.
The Chequers building itself is approximately 350-400 years old making it date from 1600 to 1650 onwards.
The first documented evidence that we know of so far is in Manor Court records for the Manor of Waterhouse and Churchouse. The Manor Courts were held at the Chequers from 1724, if not before, when it was named on the document as “The Chequers”. They dealt with rents, letting of land and property belonging to the Manor and with crimes against the Manor that were not serious enough to be dealt with in a higher court.
In 1724 the following reference can also be found in the Manor Court Records: “A Court Baron of Roger Colman, Clerk for the said Manor Holden and kept at the sign of the Chequers on Thursday the 31st Day of December 1724”. Roger Colman was the current Lord of the Manor of Waterhouse and Churchouse.
In 1728 the Manor Court, held again at the Chequers, recorded that it was told of the death of John Barker, late of Wymondham, on the 27th January 1728. The Manor and probably the Chequers too was sold to another John Barker. He was married to a descendant of one of the earlier Lords of the Manor and he built Shropham Hall.
The Manor remained with this family passing through the female line to the Hemsworths of Shropham Hall. One member of this family was Sarah Hethersett and she seems to have had ownership of the Chequers in the 1800’s.
In 1907 on the 20th June, The Chequers was sold to de Grey of Merton (Lord Walsingham). The Hemworths were in severe financial trouble by this time and went bankrupt in 1908.
The name Chequers usually comes from the method used in earlier times of counting money paid for rents etc on a chequered cloth for ease of counting This is where our Government Exchequer comes from. This might imply that the Manor Courts had always been held at the Inn.
The question that is not answered is, was it always an Inn or was it the Old Manor House no longer lived in? The Manor was a very minor one in the village and certainly the Colemans lived elsewhere. Previous owners had owned more than one Manor and had not needed a house.
Another view is that it may have been built as cottages, part of which was an Inn which was a very convenient place, owned by the Lord of the Manor and central to the village, for collecting rents etc. It lay near to roads in and out of the village and close to the Mill and the centre of much of the commercial activity in the village.
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