Hatfield has had a brewing industry that dates back over 400 years. The Hatfield Brewery was a major local employer and owned a chain of pubs in Hertfordshire. Sadly, today all that remains of a once thriving industry are a few buildings and place names.
Flemish or Dutch settlers are credited with introducing hopped beer into Britain around the 14th Century. The Searancke family, thought to be of Flemish extraction, are reported to have lived in Essendon (a manor of Hatfield) and were engaged in the brewing trade since the 1500s.
In the early 17th Century, one branch of this family took over running the Chequers Inn (pictured above but now used as private offices). The family business eventually grew into the Hatfield Brewery. As their fortunes improved the family began to acquire other pubs and breweries in the parish and surrounding area.
The Searancke family's involvement with the Hatfield Brewery appears to have ended in 1815.
The business changed hands periodically until the Pryor family bought into it in the mid-1800s.
Around 1880, a Pryor family descendant joined forces with his brother-in-law and established Pryor, Reid & Company Limited. The company enjoyed success and acquired other Hatfield brewing concerns and pubs.
The Hatfield Brewery eventually closed down in March 1920 after the chairman P C Reid decided to sell up following the death of his only son in WWI.
The chain of 98 pubs was sold a few months later to Benskins Brewery in Watford.