The Tumbledown Dick

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The Tumbledown Dick in 2012.

The Tumbledown Dick is a former public house on the site of a new McDonald's restaurant in Farnborough, Hampshire, in the United Kingdom, that operated from the 16th century[1] until the early 21st century. The name of the pub originates as the satirical nickname given to Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, after his abrupt fall from power after a brief nine-month reign in 1658–59.[2] The pub was the central focus of Farnborough before its 19th-century refocus toward North Camp and the current town centre's 20th-century development. Local folklore links the pub with various historical figures, including Cromwell, Henry VIII (celebrating the downfall of Richard III) and Dick Turpin.[3] The pub was closed in 2008, and the building purchased by McDonald's in 2012.[4]


The pub is believed to have been built prior to 1600, with an original building having been constructed in 1674.[3][5] It was used in the billeting of troops in transit from no later than 1696, continuing until at least 1756, five beds and stabling for five horses, and was the start of the continued relationship between the Army and the pub.[6]

The Posting House Tumbledown Dick, a watercolour of the pub painted in 1782 by Thomas Rowlandson.[7]

It was during the 18th century that the pub was first used as a post house, and it was described at the time as a hub of the community.[8] By the 19th century, the building had become a "Posting Inn", with stagecoaches and road wagons stopping there on their way between Southampton and London, and was also the location of a fish market for Farnborough and the neighbourhood. The pub sign showed a man in top-boots, with pipe and glass, falling under a table; after the Crimean War, this was changed at the request of the Army into a falling Hussar.[9]

Important land and property sales were both advertised and held at the pub, including the sale of Farnborough Place and Park and the pub itself in 1861.[10] As late as 1862 the pub was being used as the location for the manorial courts of the Manor of Farnborough, the Courts Baron and Customary Courts, wherein rents were paid and Coroner's inquests held.[citation needed]

The middle of the century saw the building as a place for local people and visitors to celebrate and be entertained, ranging from post-match meals for cricket teams to grand celebrations for royal events. Court Alexandra, number 4151 of The Ancient Order of Foresters, was formed in 1863 and held Courts at the Tumbledown Dick from 1871 to 1906, numbering some 297 local people.[11]

From the 20th century onwards the pub was the focal place in Farnborough for musical expression and entertainment. A number of bands started their musical careers by performing at the venue,[citation needed] or performed there while on tour. Notable bands to perform at the venue include Mega City Four,[12] Reuben,[13] Hundred Reasons,[14] and Paul Weller and The Jam.[15]

In February 2008, Punch Taverns, the pub's owners, closed it on health and safety grounds, with a view to a major refurbishment being undertaken. They did not re-open the pub.[16]


In August 2012 the freehold owners of the building, Bride Hall Investments, made an agreement to sell it to the McDonald's restaurant chain.[17][4] The following October, a community group was formed as The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick with the goal of raising local awareness, mounting a legal challenge to the demolition of the pub, and eventually purchasing the property to re-open it as a community run pub. As of February 2014, a petition to save the pub had attracted over 3000 signatures.

In 2013 planning application was granted to change the use of the building from a pub to restaurant/takeaway combined with partial demolition and addition of new structural elements.[17] This followed an earlier version of the plans in which the building would be demolished entirely, and was amended to retain the facade as a result of a meeting between local MP, Sir Gerald Howarth and McDonald's who agreed to retain the look of the building from the roadside.[citation needed] The building has now re-opened, refurbished with a new roof as a McDonald's restaurant and drive-thru.

Heritage status[edit]

Farnborough, The Tumble Down Dick Hotel - - 1389968.jpg

The building was listed in the 1980s as a "Hampshire treasure" by Hampshire County Council.[1] In December 2012, Rushmoor Borough Council published a report assessing the building against the criteria used by English Heritage when considering if a building is worthy of listed building status, but concluded against its listing.[3] The following month, English Heritage declined an application for the building to receive listed building status, stating that it lacked the special architectural and historical interest required to qualify.[18] A group of supporters of the pub called the "Friends of the Tumbledown Dick" subsequently commissioned and published its own heritage report into the historical value of the pub, describing the council's report as "fundamentally flawed".[19] Following applications by the group to Rushmoor Borough Council, in 2013 the building was both designated as locally listed as an Asset of Community Value[20] and a "Building of Local Importance".[21] However, following an appeal to Rushmoor Council by the Spirit Pub Company,[a] the building's ACV designation was rescinded later in 2013.[17]


  1. ^ Previously a business component of Punch Taverns, and the current leaseholders of the building.


  1. ^ a b Hart and Rushmoor. Hampshire Treasures. 3. Hampshire County Council. 1980. p. 220. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Latimer, Elizabeth Wormeley (1899). England in the nineteenth century. Among the queer names of roadside inns that I have seen in that neighborhood was one called Tumble-Down Dick, in derision of Richard Cromwell. 
  3. ^ a b c "Rushmoor Borough Council Tumbledown Dick Public House Farnborough Road, Farnborough Heritage Assessment by Turley Associates". Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "McDonald's plan revealed for historic pub". Get Hampshire. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  5. ^ John Ogilby's 1674 Tithe Map
  6. ^ Particular Account of all the Inns, Alehouses in England With Their Stable-Room and Bedding In the Year 1686. The British Army. 1686. 
  7. ^ Rowlandson, Thomas (1964) [1756-1827]. Wark, Robert R., ed. Rowlandson's drawings for a tour in a post chaise. Huntington Library. 
  8. ^ Byng, John (1970) [1782]. Andrews, C. Bruyn, ed. The Torrington Diaries. 1. Methuen. ISBN 0416156800. 
  9. ^ Sturt, George (1922). A farmer's life, with a memoir of the farmer's sister. London: Jonathan Cape. 
  10. ^ Hampshire Records Office Archives Catalogue: Farnborough documents 60M87/3 Title: Sale particulars: (1861)
  11. ^ Challacombe, Jessie (1922). Jottings from a Farnborough Note Book. Aldershot: Gale and Poledon. 
  12. ^ "Photo of Mega City Four at The Tumbledown Dick". 
  13. ^ "Reuben Set List from The Tumbledown Dick in 2005". 
  14. ^ "Hundred Reasons Gig Archive". 
  15. ^ "Paul Weller Live Archive - 1975". 
  16. ^ Clifford, David. "The Tumbledown Dick - Farnborough". 
  17. ^ a b c Rushmoor borough council (22 November 2013). "The Tumbledown Dick public house". Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Reject at Initial Assessment Report". English Heritage. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  19. ^ Friends of the Tumbledown Dick. "Heritage Report" (PDF). 
  20. ^ "The Tumbly: An Asset of Community Value". Friends of the Tumbledown Dick. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Tumbledown Dick added to special protection list". Get Hampshire. 26 April 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°17′35″N 0°45′12″W / 51.293188°N 0.753418°W / 51.293188; -0.753418