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The Case is Altered, Capel Road Bentley IP9 2DW


A local history buff has put together some fascinating information on the history of the name of various “The Case” pubs around the country.

CASE IS ALTERED – A phrase first used by Edmund Plowden (1518-85), a lawyer. It referred to the effect of new evidence on the case he was dealing with in court.

The phrase seems to have become almost proverbial. It was taken up by Ben Jonson for his comedy The Case is Altered, written before 1599. As a pub name the reason for its use is a matter of local legend in each instance. Often it is said that the landlord’s situation altered for some reason, perhaps in his dispute with the licensing authorities. A sign at Banbury shows a courtroom scene. There is a local story about weavers winning a court victory, resulting in the Weavers Arms changing to the Case is Altered overnight.

Amongst the various more ingenious, but almost certainly totally false, explanations of the name one may cite a) a corruption of Casey’s Altar for the pub at Woodbndge in Suffolk; b) a corruption of Casa Alta for the several pubs of the name in the Harrow district. This is supposed to be because soldiers returning from the Peninsular War at the beginning of the nineteenth century had often occupied a ‘house on the hill’ during the battle, c) a corruption of Casa de Saltar, explained as ‘house of dancers’ where the British soldiers betook themselves. The last phrase is totally meaningless in Spanish (though saltarina is a dancer) and demonstrates only that in trying to explain a pub name, most people prefer to stay in the bar and invent something rather than pursue the matter properly.

Next page: The campaign to Save the Case from closure.