Daniel Defoe and the Stockwell Arms

As my usual route into town takes me up West Stockwell Street – I’m normally headed to the Town Hall, and it’s slightly less steep than North Hill – I’ve been able to see the progress of the work that’s currently being carried out on the Stockwell Arms pub.

There’s clearly a massive restoration job going on there, and it’s a credit to Robert Morgan, the new owner, that it’s all to keep it as a pub, not turn it into flats and housing as many people had expected would happen when the pub closed a couple of years ago. The building is surrounded in scaffolding, and lots of the old cladding has been removed to get at the old timbers for restoration or replacement, and it’s fascinating to see what the building looks like from the street with a lot of additions removed from it.

What’s prompted this post is the news that they’ve found old pieces of manuscript and a quill pen under the floorboards, and as Daniel Defoe was reputed to have drunk there many times – he spent lots of time in Colchester, and part of Moll Flanders takes place in Mile End – he’s obviously the name being attached to them. And while these fragments may well be part of Robinson Crusoe 2: Back To The Island With A Vengeance, whatever they reveal will no doubt be of interest. They’re fragments of another place and time, perhaps a few jotted down words by someone who lost them and forgot about it, then was forgotten about in turn, but now discovered and remembered. It’s just one story from a pub that has 600 years of them, and I’m sure I’ll be adding a bit to it later this year when it reopens.