First referred to in 1678 as a Messuage and Stable (house and stable), the Tiger Inn soon became known as a simple ale house, and was given its first name of the Chequer in 1749. Then, by 1778, it had become referred to as the Four Bells, due to the number of bells hanging in Stowting church. And in 1802 the pub was renamed the Anchor, which coincided with the pub being acquired by the Mackeson brothers. Most recently, in about 1985, it was re-named the Tiger.
Having changed hands many times over the years, the pub was notably purchased by Henry and William Mackeson on 26th May 1802 for £300 (and then renamed from the Four Bells to The Anchor). It was one of the first pubs purchased by the Mackeson brothers shortly after they had bought the Hythe brewery. On the death of William Mackeson in 1821, the pub was still valued at £300, and “Mackeson” remains emblazoned in bold letters on the front of the house.
An anker is a form of cask used by smugglers to bring brandy into the country. As a vessel approached the coastline, ankers would be fastened to a length of rope which was weighted with stones, with an anchor at either end. This would then be suspended below the water and when the coast was clear, usually at night, the smugglers would claim their booty. The choice of the name “Anchor” in 1802 suggests that the pub was likely one of the many pubs in the area frequented by smugglers.
By 1985 the villagers of Stowting had tired of the name “Anchor”, so some of the pub regulars decided to put their suggestions for a new name in a bucket and the pub would be called by whichever name was drawn. The winning name (the Tiger Inn) was entered into the draw because a tiger had supposedly once escaped from a travelling circus and was recaptured nearby using a bedspread.
The oldest part of the building dates hack to the 1600s, but most of the additions were carried out in 1839. However, in 1946, when a Mackeson employee visited the pub, he observed that: “There were no counters, a serving hatch being used. Ceiling – Plaster breaking away and needs repair. Walls – Damp in places and brickwork breaking away. There was no piped water to the washing up area. Comment – Rebuild or alterations. Brewery comment – Neither!”
Past landlords had a variety of second jobs, including Sarah Caister in 1816, who was also the village butcher, as was George Brett in 1855, because the pub provided only a marginal living. Indeed, there are entries in the Mackeson ledger for 1912 revealing a loss of £11/7/10, and in 1914 a larger loss of £33/19/7.
However, money was spent on renovation work and in 1931 a new scullery and porch were added at a cost of £150, and that same year the forming and tarring of the forecourt cost £46. The rent during this period was a modest £3/15/- a quarter. During 1953 the pub generator was sold for £10, and in 1954 a bathroom and water closet were installed at a cost of £530. The pub also boasted a skittles alley and, in pre-war days, the landlord would ring a cow bell to draw attention to closing time.
However, on 25th March 1976, Whitbread sold the pub, returning it to being a free house, after which it continued to trade on a reasonable basis until the mid 1990s, when the owner, who also ran another pub on nearby Stone Street, got into financial difficulties and had to sell up.
There were fears that the pub would either close down or be turned into a “theme” pub, and to prevent this happening it was purchased by a consortium of villagers who worked to build up the business over more than 15 years, before selling the pub on to Innflair Ltd, a business operated by the Nixon family, who have a long history of running food-led family pubs and restaurants. Nowadays the pub presents as a character building, sympathetically restored with an excellent restaurant offering candlelit dining.