Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Inns of Stony Stratford

The river crossing and its 50-mile distance from London made Stony Stratford into a natural stopping point and in the middle ages some enterprising folk began to build inns on the ancient Watling Street highway. In time this greatly enriched the manors of Calverton and Wolverton through increased rents, although some parcels of land was sold off.


I have already discussed Stony Stratford Inns in part in this post on the Radcliffe Trust. Here I say a few things about some of the bigger and better known inns. North of St Mary Magdalen, latterly the site of St Paul's School which then became Fegan's orphanage was The Horseshoe Inn. Ratliffe identifies this site with an Inn called The Waggon. Whether or not this were re-naming of the Horsehoe is unclear. 
The site of the Three Swans, mostly of 18th century construction, is now an hotel The Different Drummer.



The Rose and Crown, further south, survived the Great Fire and is still at heart a medieval building. A plaque outside today claims that the two young sons of Edward IV were held there by their uncle Richard, Duke of York and from there whisked away to the Tower of London, where they were later murdered. Some historians believe that they stayed at the Three Swans, which burned in the Great Fire. Either way, they certainly stayed in Stony Stratford. It is also claimed that Prince Rupert, one of Charles I's generals, stayed at the Rose and Crown. Oliver Ratliffe writes that one of the upper rooms was decorated with the Royal Coat of Arms until Frederick Aveline, a 19th century cabinet maker occupied the room and had it painted over. The Rose and Crown was left in the will of Michael Hipwell in 1609 to found a Grammar School. The Inn was then used for that purpose, but then another building was found for the school, possibly next door, and the revenue from the inn used to fund the school.


The site of the Almshouses was apparently occupied by two taverns, one called The Waggon and Horses, the other known as The Gate, although the last one may have gone under the earlier name of The Angel.


On the Calverton side of the High Street the first in that one encountered was The Angel, more recently The Barley Mow. This is the first building from the river and is now a private residence. It is thought that  the earliest known tavern Grik's Herber or The Greek's Tavern was located here. Thomas le Grik appears as witness to a document granting two acres of land in Calverton, dated 1296.


The Lyon (later the Fox and Hounds) was a little further south near the site of the Eleanor Cross.
Moving south we come to the Cross Keys (which may have once been St Peter's Keys) and The Talbot


In the main part of the High Street stands The George and The White Horse.

On The Market Square was The Crown, the White Hart and the King's Head.

On the corner of Horse Fair Green is a house that used to be The Royal Oak. Ratliffe says that there was once an Old Royal Oak nearby.

Ratliffe also lists names of other inn names which have come and gone: The Globe, The Plough, The Old Boar, The Peacock, The Bell, The Coach and Horses, The Rising Sun and The Swan with Two Necks. 

In the late 19th century, as Stony Stratford grew towards Wolverton, several pubs sprung up on the Wolverton Road: The Foresters, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Case is Altered and The Prince of Wales.

This is not a conclusive history. There is plainly a lot of detail  yet to be provided.

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