following my lengthy yomp around the countryside (and A-roads) around Stretton to find "The Lodge" I have finally managed to put a location to the elusive pub known, correctly but colloquially, as Bill and Ben's.
However, this wasn't the result of toiling down muddy footpaths and haranguing Wee Fatha to drive me out to the wilds of Tupton, Wingerworth and Press. Oh no. Somewhat shamefully, the answer to the mystery lay at my fingertips for weeks. I, in fact, had the evidence all along. And only a misconception stopped me from finding it.
You see, when WF kindly lent me his copy of the Chesterfield Round Walk original guide, he had kindly and thoughtfully placed the "relevant" Ashover New Road/Stretton to Woodthorpe Mill section at the back. Because we both thought the pub was virtually in Handley it seemed that all the info I needed was there on that single page.
As it turned out of course, I succeeded only in finding "The Hideaway" on Highstairs Lane, and The Buck at Henmoor. Even when I was told that Bill and Ben's was at Press, I never thought to see where the walk went after Woodthorpe Mill. However, when copying the guide prior to returning it to WF, I noticed the next page went to Stone Edge. It is, after all, a round walk. So I looked, on the off chance, to see if it passed near Press.
I can now reveal it goes...through Press. Not only that, it passes Press Farm, as I had noted on the modern map, but better still, en route to Wingerworth and Stone Edge, it goes right past Bill and Ben's. And its even marked on the 1980's OS map as a pub!
What's more the guide dates the building to 1669, and confirms its proper name. The Manor House Inn, which it describes as a farm/pub, is between Bolehill Lane, just past the hamlet of Press, and Birkin Lane, on a track linking the two roads which is even shown on the road map, overlooking Press reservoirs. A brief Internet investigation reveals that the building is probably now Press Manor Fisheries, although its a bit up the hill, and there are buildings nearer by so am not sure.
So irrespective of whether it was called the Press (that's the only bit I haven't verified) it certainly wasn't called the Lodge.
Hopefully me and Wee Fatha will get out that way soon and at least get to look at the building, so that I can stand in the same position looking at the farm from the same angle and reassure myself that I didn't imagine the whole episode. Even better, would be if the pub opened again, but that seems unlikely. At least I know where the bugger is now.