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THIS PROJECT GREW FROM my recent book sorting and its unearthing two books: Tales of Old Inns, 1927; and English Inns Illustrated, 1951. Gee, I wonder if there’s any overlap of establishments. What’s more, using Internet presence as a guide, I wonder if any of these overlaps are still in operation 95 and 71 years later, respectively.
“We moderns,” the author wrote back in 1927, “look forward to a cosy, comfortable house at the end of a day’s journey by motor-car just as our forefathers did who travelled about the country by coach. We are recapturing the spirit of the road and the easy friendly atmosphere of the inn where we talk contentedly of the day’s adventures, over the fire of an evening, with strangers whom the chance of the road has thrust across our path for a few hours.”
“In no country has the inn been of greater service to society than in England,” wrote Colville Wemyss. “In saying this, and remembering the Gemuetlichkeit of the continental beer-garden or the inspired effort of the chef in some quite modest French hotel, I wonder whether I shall be suspected of pitching the claim of the English inn too high.”
Fortunately for my sampling, both books have indices of the inns discussed. Internet sleuthing completed my tidbit gleaning.
Appearing in Both Books. To the best of my index perusing, there are seven inns appearing in both books: the Angel and Royal, Grantham; the Dolphin, Southampton; the Flying Horse, Nottingham; the Great White Horse, Ipswich; the Red Lion, Colchester; the Star, Alfriston; and the White Horse, Dorking. Only two of these provided any research challenges: English Inns listed the “Great White Horse;” Tales, the “White Horse, Great.” And the Tales’ Angel in Grantham turned out to be the same place as English Inn’s Angel and Royal, Grantham.
Internet Sleuthing. Quite amazingly, five of the seven continue to provide accommodations for travellers. One of the other two has been converted into shops; one has “future a mystery.” Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits on each gleaned from my two books, together with Internet links.
The Angel and Royal. Tales noted, “So far as we know the tale the Angel at Grantham has to tell begins between seven and eight hundred years ago, when it belonged to the Order of Knights Templar and was a hostel of such importance that King John and his train of courtiers rested there on February 23, 1213, two years before signing the Magna Carta.”
Colville Wemyss wrote, “In the same very select group of old inns as ‘The George’ at Glastonbury, Grantham’s ‘Angel’ was first a pilgrims’ hostel, then a famous resting place for sixteenth-century travellers, one of the great coaching inns of the North Road, and finally a large, prosperous hotel of the twentieth century.”
Indeed, the 21st century as well.
The Dolphin. Tales noted, “There must indeed be few inns in the whole of the kingdom so bound up with the life of its city, about which there are so many interesting records, as the Dolphin.’’
Wemyss wrote that “One of the earliest mail-coaches ran between ‘The Dolphin’ at Southampton and ‘The Swan with Two Necks’ in London.”
“In later years,” Tales described, “on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s periodical visits to her beloved Isle of Wight, the Dolphin stables were always reserved for the accommodation of her royal horses, and the house was for long described as ‘Her Majesty’s Posting House.’ ”
We’ll continue our tour of old English inns tomorrow in Part 2.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022