The Silver Cup - a pub since 1838

and the Silver Cup Pond

The Silver Cup, with members of the Archer family, c.1890. Credit: scan from Bygone Harpenden published by H&DLHS 1980

The inn is seen in this photograph as it was at the end of the nineteenth century. It was built in 1838 by the Wheathampstead brewer John House. In 1839 a “Friendly Society” was established there. Members could claim a free pint of beer when they paid their quarterly subscriptions.

The licencees were members of the Archer family which had some 200 years’ association with the trade. One son, Frederick Archer, was often mistaken, by visitors to the Races, for Fred Archer, the famous jockey. The name “The Silver Cup” is presumably taken from a trophy at the Harpenden Races, which started in the 1830s, but were not a regular fixture until 1848, when they were held annually on the Common until 1914.

In 1832 a Friendly Benefit Society was founded at the Silver Cup. Its rules of 1839 were introduced in verse:

  1. First is the name and the design.
  2. The place to meet and at what time.
  3. Who cannot here a member be,
  4. And he who is a member free.
  5. How each must enter and the way
  6. And then what each one has to pay
  7. When each and all must clear the book,
  8. And when each for a feast may look,
  9. The officers, and what they be,
  10. The box, and who shall keep the key.
  11. What each receives when lame or ill,
  12. The duties each have to fulfil.
  13. Some cautions not designed to shock,
  14. Then what is said about the stock.
  15. The club shall never broken be / While five to keep it up agree.
  16. Rules may be altered if they need / When by a majority agreed.
  17. Lastly, to wind the rules all up, / The landlord of the Silver Cup, / How he will lend his friendly aid, / And when and how he shall be paid.

Vyse’s Pond – Silver Cup Pond

The natural pond on the Common nearby was called “Vyse’s Pond”, but was renamed “The Silver Cup Pond” when, in the 1899 it was concreted to form a paddling and model boating pool. For the celebration of the coronation of King George V in 1911 a lighthouse was built in the middle, and fairylights were suspended around the pond.

By the 1960s pollution of the pond by traffic dust and litter made it a health hazard, and it was filled in and grassed over.

NB Is the car-park on the same site?

Vyse’s Pond with Edwin Gray’s annotation. Credit: LHS archives – LHS B1.63

Comments about this page

  • I remember the ‘pond’ in the 1970’s (possibly up until the early 1980’s). I don’t believe it was grassed over in the 1960’s; the lovely smooth stone perimeter and central lighthouse was still there (I didn’t realise that it was a lighthouse. It was filled with sand as a sandpit for many years – although I rarely recall seeing anyone playing in it, except for the occasional toddler on sunny summer days.

    By Charles Rodgers (24/10/2023)
  • I am also a descendant of the Archer family. I can only trace to c1851 Archer family in the beer trade and would love to know how to find records further back on them in this trade please.

    By Sharon (29/08/2017)
  • The Archers are my ancestors. I was born in 1949; my cousins and brother are researching our family history which has been now traced back beyond the Silver Cup but it is amazing to see a picture. Our father was also an Alfred Archer as was his great grandfather three generations before him.

    By christina archer (25/01/2016)
  • The Silver Cup has fond memories for my wife, Carol nee BLAND, and me.  On 2nd October 1965, after our wedding at St. Nicholas Church, we celebrated with family and friends in the pub.  A very memorable day.

    By John Halsey (04/06/2014)
  • My parents Rex & Christobell Hyde ran the pub from circa 1934 to 1960 . . . fond memories of living in the home that seemed to rarely sleep . . . went to Morton End school until I was 12. There were US soldiers billeted  there during WWII.

    By David Rasmussen (16/05/2014)

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