"Only the oldest generation of beer drinkers will remember the taste of Shelley's beer, which was brewed in Hilderstone for nearly 200 years." This is the opening sentence of an article on the Bird in Hand, which appeared in The Sentinel in March 1999. Beer was produced by the Shelley family from the time of the Industrial Revolution and they supplied beer to other pubs and private houses in the area. It was not uncommon at this time for small breweries to exist as the new factory workers needed something to quench their thirst.
Records show that there was a Jas Shelley at the Bird in 1834, Ellen Shelley in 1851, William Shelley in 1872, Thomas Holdcroft Shelley 1892 and Frank Shelley and William Shelley (unfortunately there are no dates recorded for the latter two).
In Mrs. Bossen's Peep into the History of Hilderstone, there is mention of Mr. W. Shelley of Heathy Close Farm, who told her that he did not remember his grandfather, who had been landlord of the Bird in Hand but he did remember his grandmother as a very small woman. He remembered taking the grain to the pub for the beer making process. Apparently two men were employed in connection with the brewing industry and their names were Till and Udall. Mr. Udall was a cooper (barrel maker) and he lived in the first cottage below the Bird.
The Shelleys continued to brew beer at their pub until 1957 when the Bird in Hand was sold at auction and the new owners no longer carried on the long established brew. Fortunately the Shelley family is still closely connected with the village of Hilderstone and Shelleys are still mush involved in all aspects of village life.
Sadly the Bird in Hand has been demolished. It was not the only public house in Hilderstone. In 1818 it was recorded that there were two others, the New Inn, which was kept by Mrs. Kendrick, and the Horse Shoe whose licensee was Mr. Walters. Could be that the Roe Buck was originally called the New Inn? Newcomers to the village, please note, it is the Roe Buck not the Roebuck! The Horse Shoe is the older building. It stands in the middle of the village and only the metal work for the sign remains to indicate its past since it now forms part of a row of cottages.
To amend A. E. Housman:
"Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Shelley's beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I've lain,
Happy till I woke again."
(Last Poems  1. The West)