The Wilson Arms

The Wilson Arms is a timber-framed building of square plan thought to date from about 1600. It stands on land originally part of the Knowle Lodge Estate; on old maps it can be seen quite clearly occupying one corner of a large field.  The associated land stretched well down Hampton Road, where a malt house was replaced by a terrace called Malthouse Row in 1824 - itself demolished to make way for the present semi-detached houses in the 1960s.

Over the years the inn has been extensively altered; just before the First World War an assembly room holding 300 people was added at the rear; in the late 20th century the original small cosy rooms arranged round a central chimney were converted to an open plan layout; in the 1990s a large extension was added to link the main building with former outbuildings.  Originally the inn was called The Rising Sun, but was renamed in 1839 in acknowledgement of William Henry Bowen Jordan Wilson, who was Lord of the Manor at the time.  His  coat of arms hangs over the front door.

The Wilson Arms, early 20th century.

A group outside the summer house, 1890

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The Walker family outside the Wilson Arms, 1898.

Knowle’s first garage, 1922.

The Wilson Arms showing the 1990s extension, 2002.

Like all the other inns the Wilson Arms had its social side and was host to many activities and organisations.  During the First World War it was the headquarters of the local Remount Department, which was responsible for collecting horses for the army.  With the arrival of motor transport in the early 20th century some of the original outbuildings were converted to the first garage in Knowle.  The assembly room was the first place in Knowle to show moving pictures; this continued until the cinema was built in Station Road in 1924.  A bowling green was added in the 1920s.  Various organisations met here: the Knowle branch of the Royal British Legion, the Ancient Order of Buffaloes and Knowle Women’s Institute, which held its first meeting in the assembly room in 1920.  Today the Wilson Arms is a popular Toby Carvery.