Pub History

According to Joseph Stevens in 1879, a paper was written on Hampshire Inn signs for the members of the Winchester & Hampshire Scientific and Litery Society.  This paper mentioned The Crooked Billet at Hook and he associated the sign with cricket.

At that time, there were 14 symbols throughout the country, mostly modern under the heads of cricketers, The Cricketers Arms and The Bat and Ball.

A game somewhat resembling cricket, and from which it sprang was believed to be associated with the particular sign displayed at The Crooked Billet at Hook.  In Saxon times the game was played with a ball and a crooked stick and the sign mentioned previously was represented by an untrimmed stick placed over the door.

Halliwell (Archaic and Provincial Words - Volume 1) describes the billet as a 'stick' or 'cudgel'.  Cricket had also been named 'the game of tip-cap'.  In The Crooked Billet we then recognise the implement used in the early games of 'bandy', 'tip-cat' and 'billet and ball' - or cricket.

Cotgrave French / English Dictionary, 1611, translated the word 'crosse' as a 'crosier' or 'bishops staff' or the 'crooked staff' wherewith boys play cricket.

The Anglo-Saxon word 'cric' means a staff.

Anne Pitcher, in her book 'Do you know the Raven' refers to the green on the opposite side of the dusty road to The Crooked Billet' where children played and that, on market days, the green was occupied by herds of cattle grazing while the drovers went into the pub for refreshment.  The green could well have been the area where the game of cricket was played to lend support to Joseph Stevens opinion as to the origin of the name of the Inn.

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The Crooked Billet