The Bull's Head Inn is located on the western side of High Street, a thoroughfare that was also known as Long Street. The pub almost certainly got its name because the premises were used as a slaughterhouse, butchery and public house, quite a common combination in many places where meat and beer seemed to go hand-in-hand.
In 1828 Matthew Marples was listed as a butcher and victualler at the Bull's Head Inn. In addition to processing animals here, Matthew Marples also auctioned his livestock in what is today's car park. He was quite a successful farmer and bred cattle, sheep and pigs. Many auctions for property and land were also held at the Bull's Head Inn. For example, in May 1835 three lots of land were sold at the pub, including Winshill Balk Close, Upper Middle Close and Black Sitch, all in the occupation of the farmer John Goodall.
Matthew Marples kept the busy Bull's Head with his wife Ellen. The couple suffered the tragic loss of their son in 1827 when he accompanied him on a trip into Derby with his father. The young lad ran across the road to assist a maid obtain water but was run over by a horse and carriage, killing him instantaneously.
Matthew Marples was a well-liked figure in Repton and the local area. When he died in October 1840 the Derby Mercury reported that "after a short illness which he bore with patience and resignation, in the 61st year of his age, Mr Matthew Marple, of the Bull's Head Inn, well known as a grazier and feeder of fat cattle. He was a beloved husband, an affectionate father, and highly respected by all who knew him."
His wife Ellen decided not to continue on her own at the Bull's Head and the pub was advertised in the local papers. This proves valuable in dating the building because the advertisement stated that the pub was newly built, suggesting it was a replacement of an older establishment. The Bull's Head was described as having stabling sufficient for 20 horses, with sheds and piggeries. Some of these outbuildings remained until relatively recent times when they were demolished to create a larger car park.
On leaving the Bull's Head Inn, widow Ellen Marples moved to a property called The Ridgeway where she operated a dairy and farmed some 130 acres with the help of her brother-in-law and son, both named James. The family kept their links with the Bull's Head Inn. They provided a sheep to be roasted at the pub for a party held to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince Edward and Alexandra of Denmark. James Marples also owned the Mount Pleasant Inn at Mill Hill, a beer house sold by auction at the Bull's Head Inn following his death.
The new incumbent was 35 year-old John Marshall who moved into the property with his wife Ann. The couple hired three servants suggesting that it was a busy house. John and Ann Marshall were capable hosts and the Bull's Head Inn was favoured by the local gentry and the Oddfellows' Friendly Society, a charitable organisation established in 1810. A market gardener and, later a wine and spirits merchant, John Marshall was a local man but his wife hailed from the Shropshire town of Oswestry.
In 1855 John Marshall was recorded as a postmaster, with the Bull's Head Inn acting as the posting house for Repton. Following the death of his wife, he was assisted by his older sister Hannah. His brother Henry utilised some of the outbuildings to establish a clog-making business.
The licence of the Bull's Head Inn was held for a short period by John Butler, who also traded as a wine and spirits merchant. By 1871 the publican in charge was tenant Thomas Brownson. He remained at the Bull's Head Inn despite the freehold being sold in November 1877. The advertisement for the pub described it as "all that old established public house, well known as the Bull's Head Inn, situate in the main street of Repton, together with the garden and orchard occupied therewith, in the occupation of Mr Thomas Brownson." The building was described as containing a "spacious entrance bar and small bar, smoke room, tap room, parlour, larder, kitchen, brewhouse, on the ground floor; spacious club room, sitting room, and three bedrooms, on the second floor: and six bedrooms and five attics, on the third floor." The sale also included the old butcher's shop and slaughter house which was occupied by Mr Thomas Brown - not to be confused with the pub's licensee Thomas Brownson.
The publican was born in the village of Marston Montgomery around 1830 whilst his wife Ann hailed from Stapenhill. Their daughter Alice worked in the pub as a barmaid whilst their son, John, operated a small business as an ironmonger. Thomas and Ann Brownson had earlier operated a small farm in the village of Parwich. The couple were still running the Bull's Head in 1901 when they were both 72 years of age. By this time daughter Alice had married Henry Lawley who traded as a butcher from the adjoining buildings.
Along with the Boot Inn, the Bull's Head Inn was used for the Repton Petty Sessions until the court house was built in Brook End.
History missing for quite some time.... can anyone help here please?
In 2005 The Bulls Head was owned by Punch Taverns (the largest leased pub company in the country). The lessee went bankrupt and the pub closed its doors. For two and a half years the pub lay delelict and had to be fitted with metal shutters in an attempt to prevent further vandalism.
In 2007 Richard and Loren Pope bought a 10 year lease for The Bulls Head from Punch Taverns and following a £600,000 investment, the pub was opened to the public in May 2007. With a ground floor pub and first floor restaurant, the business traded very well and in August 2009, Richard and Loren bought the freehold from Punch
In January 2010 Richard and Loren installed a wood fired oven in the 'Old Bakery' on the ground floor. Their authentic fresh pizzas are reputed to be the best in the area!
Most of the above information has been provided by:
and reproduced with the kind permision of Kieron (Nov 2009)