Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Swan and the Swan with Two Necks - A revised opinion

Some while back I discussed the name changes at the old Swan on the High Street The post is here.

However, after looking at new evidence from the 18th century licensing register I have changed my opinion.

Let's start with the facts. The Swan, located on the High Street at what is now Nos. 92-94 was almost certainly a medieval foundation, although it does not appear in documentary records until 1526, or possibly in an unnamed document cited by Markham, 1470. It was always a part of the Wolverton Manor and remained so until the end of the 18th century. Therefore it was always rented to tenants. It was never owned by anybody other than the Lord of the Manor. This point is actually crucial, and I will come to it in a minute.

The will of Michael Hipwell, probated in 1609 after his death contains a reference to his house the "Swan with Two Necks" which he bequeathed to his wife. This place was identified by Sir Frank Markham in his 1948 book as identical to the former Swan, and was merely a change of name. I accepted that until I came across 18th century licences naming both the Three Swans (as it was then called) and the Swan with Two Necks, both under different landlords. Furthermore, the Swan With Two Necks, is identified in 1754 as being on Stony Stratford's west side. The Swan or Three Swans was always on the east side.

I then realised that the The Swan, if it had ever been in Michael Hipwell's hands, was not his to bequeath to anyone. It was rented property. He could have happily bequeathed all the furniture and contents of the house but not the buildings themselves. They were always the property of the Longuevilles and later the Radcliffe Trust.

It is plain now that the Swan With Two Necks, which was probably Stony Stratford's wine shop for many years, was a separate building and nothing at all to do with the Swan or Three Swans.

The Three Swans finally ceased to trade in 1782. The sale of all the contents, the furniture, the linen, the plate and so on, took three days. Mrs. Ann Whittaker, a widow and the last licensee, then retired. There were probably no tenants available to run the premises as an inn and they were converted to residential use. The Radcliffe Trust sold it in 1802.

The Swan with Two Necks meanwhile, survived to 1790. It had been run for several years by Ann Mulliner (sometimes written Mullender), herself a widow. At the moment I have no idea where it was located or what became of the building.

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