Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Christopher Carter's Complaint

Christopher Carter was the innkeeper of the Three Swans in the early part of the 18th century. The Wolverton Estate owned and leased several of the major inns  on the Wolverton side of Stony Stratford - The Bull, The Red Lyon, The Three Swans - and two smaller ones - The Queen's Head and the Nag's Head. Of those the Three Swans was considered the premier inn. It was located on the site now occupied by 92-94 High Street.

In 1726 Christopher Carter was not a happy man. Part of his inn was falling into disrepair and despite promises made to him 12 years earlier the work had not been remedied.

According to his account, which I will print below, Dr. Radcliffe visited the inn and ordered that a dilapidated part of the building be torn down so that it could be replaced by a new building. One assumes that this was in 1713, just after Radcliffe had made his purchase and one might guess that there was a certain amount of persuasion by Carter that this work, probably neglected by the hard up Sir Edward Longueville, was essential.

However Dr. Radcliffe died the following year and this may have left Carter in limbo. His Trustees needed time to organise and familiarise themselves with the manor and establish priorities. Since they only met twice a year on the average it was probably difficult to get decisions in those early years. Christopher Carter may have been living in misguided hope.

Eventually, after 12 years he submitted this petition to the Trustees which was, to judge by the neatness of the script and the language, drawn up by a lawyer. The Trustees were minded to listen and allowed him some relief on his rent. It was probably too late to revive his fortunes because in 1730 he was facing insolvency.

To the Honourable William Bromley Esq. Sir George Beaumont Bart. Thomas Bacon late Slater. Anthony Keck Esq. Trustees of the late Doctor Radcliffe’s deeds
The humble petition of Christopher Carter out of the town of the manor of Wolverton in the County of Bucks. Innkeeper
Showeth
That the said Doctor Radcliffe soon after the purchasing of the said manor came to the Three Swans in Stony Stratford (being the Inn your petitioner lives inn) and ordered part of his house to be pulled down and to be new built again and accordingly the same was pulled down and continued for about twelve yeares before the same was rebuilt and the new buildings are not yet finished. 
That the buildings that were taken down consisted of six bay containing a shuffleboard room and severall other chambers and their not being built up again was a very great damage and disadvantage to your petitioner the buildings being demolished in such a manner as did not only render the said roomes useless but gave the inn such an ill report that Gentlemen and Travellers who were Strangers would not come to itt and severall Gentlemen after they had turned into the yard and saw in what condition the inn was in have went out again and gone to other Inns.
And that the brewhouse which was under part of the said roomes was so bad and ruinous that your Petitioner could not brew therein without great difficulty and hazard and oftentimes had his drink damaged by mortar and other rubbish falling into it from the walls of the said brewhouse.
Your Petitioner therefore humbly hopes that the promisses considered he shall have such whose and allowances for his loss and damage as to your Goodnesses shall seem reasonable.
One can easily imagine the reaction of customers who found clumps of mortar in their ale.

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