Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Kendal, Victoria Tavern

Victoria Tavern

Never on the normal round on a Friday or Saturday night, I think I only frequented this a few times during lunch time during my years at Bridge Mills whilst working for Prolific Life and Pensions\Scottish Provident. The inn closed a number of years ago now, and has joined the ranks of first class redevelopments. It now houses a number of flats.

In the early 19th century, wool merchant James Gandy owned a large estate comprising of land at the Northern edge of the town. Development schemes were undertaken on Longpool, where Union Row, a terrace of two storey cottages was built. Number 15 was the Victoria Tavern, and it was built in conjunction with the Kendal Union Building Society in 1820. Behind the tavern and the cottages, runs Stock Beck, which was very prone to flooding, and producing the ‘Long Pool’, one of the causes of so much flood damage during Storm Desmond in 2015. Number 15 was once called The New Crown Inn, probably relating to the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Above. Victoria Tavern in 2006 

By 1854, the inn was being used as offices by the Kendal and Windermere Railway company. The railway had opened by 1847, and the offices served the temporary station that had been built there. When the station was replaced in 1861, the offices were sold off, and in 1864  number 15 became a Temperance Hotel owned by Edgar Robinson, and occupied by Bindloss Woof. Sometime between 1864 and 1869, the building again became an inn, the Victoria Tavern.

The tavern was known as on of the four surviving Jerry houses in Kendal. These sold only beer, ale and porter. In a police report of 1892, the tavern, under the ownership of George William Howells, was recorded as having three drinking rooms, five bedrooms, no dining room, no seating and no stabling. Since 1932, there were only 5 landlords in 65 years. 

The current swinging pub sign replaced a larger one that pictured Victoria’s head and shoulders. This sign was so large it had to be fixed flat to the front of the building. It was to be sold to a buyer in America, but was not taken. For a time it was fixed to the rear of the building.....whether it's still there I'm not sure.

Above. The Victoria Tavern's sign...not the original.

The inn still possesses the ornamental windows of Duttons Blackburn Brewery, which took over the inn from local brewer Jonas Alexander between the late 1940s and 50s. 1950, new ladies and gents toilets added to the ground floor. In 1954, the ground floor living area was made into a smoking room. The inn ceased trading sometime before 2015.

Kendal, White Hart

White Hart

Another notch on a Friday and Saturday night out round town, the White Hart was a regular haunt back in the day, and is still going strong today. Brendan Jameson once told me that the inn was at sometime known as Robbins Coffee House, though if he told me when this was, I've long since forgotten. Records state that the building was an inn as early as 1702, although it’s only in 1711 that records first note the owner of the inn when it was purchased by Robert Wilson for £248.

Above. The White Hart in 2006.

Between 1711 and the mid 1700’s the White Hart was linked with a dissenting chapel, a hat shop and a newsroom. The building seems to have gone through a number of uses, before reverting back to an inn.

Above. The White Hart's sign, 2006.

An 1882 Westmorland Gazette article states “in Gilpin Rents (Steward to Alan Bellingham of Levens) there is mentioned a purchase by the same Bellingham of certain rents belonging to the chapel of St Ann, a portion of which rents, £1 10/- 6d, was due from the White Hart Inn or coffee house.” This possibly indicates that a portion of the building was let as a (dissenting) chapel, though whom this would relate to is not known, and I don't remember Brendan Jameson telling me. There is some confusion over whether the chapel of St Ann was at the inn. Local historian, John Marsh, though it may have been situated at Dockray Hall, although he indicated that it had a rental agreement with the owners of the White Hart Inn. Dockray Hall disappeared at the time of Cromwell’s Commonwealth government between 1649-59.

Above. Yard 2, Stricklandgate, home of the White Hart. 

A newsroom, probably, the first in Kendal, in 1779, was frequently visited by Dr Symonds, Rev Caleb Rotherham (of the Unitarian Chapel on Branthwaite Brow) and the Rev G. Crackenthorpe, master of the Grammar school.

Above. Yard 2 viewed from Stricklandgate.

The White Hart enjoyed a reputation as a high class inn. However, with the arrival of the Commercial Hotel in around 1804, the inn’s fortunes dwindled. The inn’s trade was probably further affected by the opening of the White Hall Meeting Rooms (Town Hall)  in 1825. The Union Lodge of the Freemasons met at the White Hart between 1797 and 1804, when it moved to the Commercial Hotel. Two years later they were meeting at the White Hart again, before moving on to the Golden Lion in 1808.

During the tenancies of John Atkinson (1781) and William Maskew (1786), coaches stopped here from  Manchester, Liverpool and London every day at 3am and 5pm. A special coach ran from here every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday to Carlisle. James Webster, former butler at Casterton Hall, and sword bearer to the Corporation, became inn keeper at the White Hart in June 1803.

Richard Smith became inn keeper in 1813.

In 1814, a dance school opened up at the White Hart. Run by Mr Banks from Kelso, the school promised to “teach all the most fashionable dances now in practice.” In 1815, Mr Brooks announces in the Chronicle that he would be taking up ownership of the inn. Robert Brooks was inn keeper in 1821. In 1824, his wife Mrs Brooks took over. In 1833, the property was sold by William Petty to Thomas Sirr for £1015. 

In 1880, the inn was sold to John Booth, a brewer from Ulverston for £1750. Kendal Coroporation was the next highest bidder for the inn.

An 1892 report states that the inn had four drinking rooms, five letting bedrooms and a large dining room. It had stabling for 18 horses. 1904, the inn was owned by Ulverston brewers Robert and Peter Hartley.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kendal, The Black Swan inn

The Black Swan inn,
All Hallows Lane\Beast Banks

The Black Swan sits on the corner where All Hallows Lane meets Beast Banks, with Low Fellside just across the road. The inn is one of Kendal's survivors, having been in near constant use since its first mention, in 1775, when Geordie Wilson was recorded as the landlord. After Geordie’s death, his widow Agnes Lily Wilson took over.

Above. The Black Swan in 2006. 

The Female Benefit Society used to meet at the inn in 1797, and until fairly recently, it still had a men’s only bar. The Black Swan catered for drinkers in five drinking rooms, had five rooms for let, and a dining room that could seat thirty people. As recorded in 1892, the inn had stabling for eighteen horses.

Above. The Black Swan way back then!

The inn was situated near one of Kendal’s more troublesome areas, but was frequented by travellers travelling West, as it is on what was once the main Westerly route out of Kendal. A report on the inn in 1909, describes the inn as follows:

"Doors, one from Bank Terrace, one gateway to back premises from All Hallows Lane which is locked every evening at six o’clock. Sanitary accommodation, urinal at side of house, urinal and wc in yard. Stabling accommodation for ten horses. Bedrooms, two for private and four for travellers. Distance from nearest licensed houses, Golden Ball Inn. 104 yards, and Angel Inn, 158 yards. Licensee has no supplementary occupation. The house is tied to two owners, Messrs Alexander and Sons. It is good for supervision and well accustomed."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Kendal, Cock and Dolphin

The Cock and Dolphin

The Cock and Dolphin once stood watch over what is almost a crossroads....where Milnthorpe Road meets Kirkland, Lound Road and Aynam Road. The inn, once a popular haunt on a Friday or Saturday night stomp around town, is now flats, converted a few years back, sympathetically retaining many of the features that drinkers around town had become familiar with. 

Above. The Cock and Dolphin looking North from Milnthorpe Road, 2006.

Brendan Jameson, ex leader of SLDC, conducted a large amount of research on Kendal's inns and public houses. When the Cock and Dolphin was earmarked for development the company involved originally had plans to demolish and replace the existing building. At first it was a foregone conclusion that this was going to happen....until Brendan got involved. The only protection the building had, was that it was just inside the Conservation area that envelopes the town wasn't listed and therefore didn't enjoy any or much legal protection. Somehow, Brendan managed to persuade the developers to retain the building, and work with the existing fabric that was already there. Luckily for us, the familiar, if jaunty, building has survived, and those of us that remember 'boozing' around town in the late 1990s and early 2000s, are no doubt misty eyed when we see the familiar bartisans at the front. 

Above. The old pub sign....alas no more!

Brendan told me that the name may Cock and Dolphin may have come from the dolphin on the armorial shield of the Dauphin of France, and the Cock connecting both to the heraldry of the French royal family....but, with a smile on his face, he said he had no idea how what the relation was between the French royal family and a pub in Kendal.

Above. The Cock and Dolphin in 2011.

The inn is first mentioned as the Cock and Dolphin in a story from 1196. Dickie Doodle rode into London with a charter from Richard Coeur de Lyon, to be given to the Burgesses of Kirkbie Kendal. He arrived in Kendal and entered the Cock and Dolphin, and promptly consumed too much Kendal Brown Ale. The charter and his mission were forgotten. Whether this building is the same Cock and Dolphin that Dickie Doodle frequented is not known...though this building in no way dates from the late 12th century!!

Above. An oblique view from Milnthorpe Road. Note the lack of bartisans.

The 1892 Kendal Borough Police Returns state that the inn had three drinking rooms, four letting bedrooms and a dining room that could accommodate 30 people. There was also stabling for five horses. 

Above. Nether Bridge and the Cock and Dolphin. 1954 floods.

A double stable with a hayloft survived for a numbe of years at the rear of the inn, as did another building, which was used as a pig sty during the Second World War.

Between 1873 and 1898, Cleasby Chorley was the landlord. Cleasby’s parents ran the Pump Inn at the top of Finkle Street until 1874, four years before it was demolished. Cleasby sold the inn to Whitwell and Mark and Co ltd for £5100.

Around 1898, permission was given for the inn to be rebuilt. Toilets were added at this point, as before this, anyone needing the toilet, had to cross the road to use the privy on the opposite side of the road. At this time, Henry Wiper was the licensee paying an annual rent of £100.

In 1983, a change of name to the Queen Katherine was proposed, but the idea was dropped. 

This is another fine example of yet another Kendal inn being saved, and preserved, albeit with a new lease of life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

London Wall, London

London Wall

The Roman walls of London formed a defensive circuit around the city from as early as 200AD. The circuit stretched for around two miles, and was built after the city's fort was constructed in 120AD. In places, the fort walls were doubled in thickness and increased in height, forming an inpenetrable barrier around the Roman fort and city. The fort and its walls were developed for a further 250 years or so, until around 410, when the Romans finally left Britain. There were a number of gates in the wall, five in total, each aligning with Roman built roads leading to other areas of Britain. The gates were Ludgate, Newgate, Cripplegate, Bishopgate, Aldgate, and most were incorporated into Medieval London's later defences.

The construction of London Wall was a high profile project for the Romans, along with Hadrian's wall to the North. It meant that the economic capital of the Western reaches of the Roman empire were defended and secured against any uprising both by British patriots, and Roman rebels. 

The walls and gates were constructed of Kentish ragstone, brought from Maidstone in Kent. The walls in the most part, stood to around six metres tall and two and a half metres thick, with ditches in front of the walls for added protection. This ditch was around two metres deep and some five metres wide adding a formidable obstacle. There were around twenty towers spread all around the wall, spaced some sixty five meters apart on the Eastern portion of the wall's circuit. With continued raids by Saxon raiders during the late third century, an additional wall was added on the riverside around 280AD. 

Above. Tower Hill postern gate.

Situated just outside Tower Hill tube station, and built into the side of the moat of the Tower of London, this is in fact a medieval structure, widely believed to be built on the site of a Roman gate. The medieval gatehouse collapsed in 1440 due to substandard materials and a lack of decent foundations, and was hence hidden from view until its excavation in 1979. The rest of the photos (below) are of the remains found in and around Tower Hill.

The remains at Tower Hill are some of the highest surviving fragments of the Roman defences.  However, what can be seen here is not all Roman, but a combination of Roman and medieval stonework. Some four metres from the floor up (and buried to some considerable depth) is Roman, whilst the remaining height (up to ten metres) is medieval. Such was the strategic importance of the Roman fort, and the sturdiness of the Roman foundations, that the medieval builders saw fit to incorporate surviving Roman masonry into the walls of London in later years. 

The original Roman wall would have stood to around six metres high. As mentioned above, the wall was also strengthened by the addition of the deep ditch and large number of towers. 

We're quite lucky to have even these sections of Roman wall to marvel at today. Photos of old London show buildings utilising the Roman walls, with the ancient masonry forming parts of houses and wharehouses. After the 'modern' buildings were demolished, the Roman masonry remains were consolidated and preserved. There are some great photos of the Roman walls here A London Inheritance.

Above. Reproduction of Roman inscriptions found near the site at Tower Hill. 

To be honest, finding the remaining portions of Roman wall was more satisfying that visiting the well trodden tourist attraction of the Tower of London. It's amazing to think that these relics were here during the earliest and violent days of Roman Britain, and have survived being battered and dug up, incorporated into houses and other buildings, have witnessed their neighbours being demolished, and have withstood the constant development and change that has swamped London for the past thousand years. My next visit to London will undoubtedly incorporate a further walk around the other areas of the Roman wall.