Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY IN PART 1 we identified old English inns that appeared in two old books, Tales of Old Inns, 1927, and English Inns Illustrated, 1951. What’s more, we found that these classic inns are still subject to Google research. We continue with five more of them here in Part 2.

The Flying Horse. The inn’s name, English Inns Illustrated surmised, “was probably taken from an ancient form of swingboat or roundabout called a flying horse. It is known that riding on a flying horse was a popular form of amusement at old-time fairs, while the inn stands close to Nottingham marketplace where one of the most famous medieval fairs was held every year for many centuries.” 

The Flying Horse, Nottingham. Image from English Inns Illustrated.

Tales observed, “Three centuries at least have combined to disguise the original beauties of the Flying Horse and have largely failed…. the sixteenth century saw that rased to the ground, and a modern erection built upon the old foundations. That modern erection is the present-day [1927] Flying Horse.”

Wikipedia notes, “It served as a public house until 1989, when it was converted into a shop. It is now at the entrance to the Flying Horse Walk shopping mall.”

The Great White Horse. English Inns Illustrated observed, “Charles Dickens, in The Pickwick Papers, says in a widely quoted description: ‘In the main street of Ipswich… stands… The Great White Horse, rendered the more conspicuous by a stone statue of some rampacious animal with flowing mane and tail distinctly resembling an insane cart-horse which is elevated above the principal door.” 

The Great White Horse, Ipswich. Image from Tales.

Tales noted, “The Great White Horse was one of the few inns that Dickens did not praise, although he made Mr. Pickwick relent a good deal when he was shown to his ‘tolerably large double-bedded room with a fire.’ ”

Alas, the Ipswich Star newspaper wrote on October 11, 2020, “The future of The Great White Horse is currently unclear…. The Great White Horse Hotel welcomed its last guests more than 10 years ago after serving the town since 1518 as The Tavern.” 

The Red Lion. Tales wrote that the Red Lion stands on the remains of a luxurious villa built during Roman times. “But there is a gap in the Red Lion’s story of perhaps a thousand years, years that saw raiding pirate Danes clamour at its walls, saw the coming of the Conqueror and the building, a stone’s throw away, of the biggest Norman keep in the land, the growth of a flourishing medieval town—and here we pick up the Red Lion’s story again.”

The Red Lion, Colchester. Image from Tales.

“Architecturally,” Tales observed in 1927, “the Red Lion is a rare jewel of the fifteenth century builder’s craft.” It still is.

The Star.  Tales noted that the Star was founded in the thirteenth century, “originally intended for the convenience of religious pilgrims and mendicant friars.”

Tales continued, “… and many a footsore penitent must have found rest and refreshment there, many persons flying from the pursuit of justice found sanctuary within its precincts.” 

The Star, Alfriston. Image from English Inns Illustrated.

“The sign of the inn,” English Inns Illustrated conjectured, “probably stands for the Star of Bethlehem.” 

The White Horse. Tales noted, “The White Horse is one of the finest specimens of the old English coaching inn that we have left in the Home Counties. Inside and out it retains the atmosphere of those generous days of stage coach and port wine. You can almost hear to-day, echoing back from its white walls, the notes of the horn and the clatter of hoofs on the cobbles….”

The White Horse, Dorking. Image from Tales.

“Through the old archway,” Tales continued, “(under which who can say how many coaches have passed?) you will still find a long range of stables, once so full of strong glossy-coated wheelers and leaders—now [1927]  mainly devoted to the safe keeping of motor-cars.”

The White Horse’s modern website writes, “It has been our pleasure to welcome guests to the hotel since we re-opened earlier this year.” 

Great Traditions. Colville Wemyss noted 51 years ago in English Inns Illustrated, “The inn has a great tradition to maintain and it is by learning to appreciate the inn as it is today, and as our forefathers created it, that we can make the surest advances in the future. Its function as a ‘rendezvous’ has for centuries made it a yard-stick of social progress.” 

The websites linked here suggest that these advances have been met. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022


  1. sabresoftware
    May 2, 2022

    “ Great Traditions. Colville Wemyss noted 51 years ago ….”

    You got my hopes up there for a minute that I only turned 48 on my birthday this past weekend, but alas I’m still 68 and Wemyss wrote 71 years ago.

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