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The Bakers Arms(31 Horsemarket)

Also: The Army and Navy (one entry, Taylor 1864)

Also: The Barbers Arms (one entry, Lea 1900-1, obvious error)

This pub was on the west side of Horsemarket, just above St. Mary’s Street opposite what is now the Girl Guides’ Hall. The earliest date, with a sign is 1864 when this address was called the Army & Navy, by the next entry in 1877 a John Curl was running it and it was called the Bakers Arms. There was, however, a Beer-Retailer here from as early as 1847. The last entry I have for this pub is in 1933.

This is a trade or occupation sign, but perhaps with a difference. As similar conditions are required for both brewing and baking it was not uncommon for the two trades to be carried on under the same roof. Both our Bakers Arms could fit, as could the Old Bakehouse in Bradshaw Street and The Old Grey Horse (later Phoenix) in Swan Street - the Phoenix was run for a long time by the Adams (of bakery fame) family.

The Bakers Arms(37 and 39 Little Cross Street - Castle Street)

The Bakers Arms The earliest entry under the sign of the Bakers Arms is for William Munday in 1858. Burgess 1845 has a Munday in Castle Street as a Beer-Retailer, but this could be Thomas Munday who is at the Blue Anchor, 3 Castle Street in 1858 when William is listed as at the Bakers Arms, 37 & 39 Little Cross Street. As can be seen from the drawing the pub is on the corner of these two streets. William continues to be at 37 & 39 as a Beer-Retailer until 1864. Wright 1884 lists Jacob Bailey at this address, as a Shopkeeper and Beer-Retailer. Lea 1900-1 has Harry Andrew at this address listed under the heading Beer Retailers (off license), but as can be seen from the drawing (which is based on a photograph probably taken about 1910) it is anything but just an off-license.

As far as listings under the sign there are four entries all addressed as Little Cross Street, then there is a gap of over twenty years (1907 - 1934) when there are four more references, all from Aubrey's and all with Castle Street with no numbers. The O/S 2500 Plan 1938 clearly shows the whole area cleared and St. Peter’s House nearing completion. As Aubrey's entries go on to 1941 there are only two conclusions. Firstly, in the twenty year gap the pub closed – or not, but did move to somewhere on the south side of Castle Street, perhaps reopening years later. Secondly, Aubrey's entries start in 1934 when the area had probably not been cleared and they simply continued to reprint the old type without bothering to check it. For now you take your pick.

The Bantam Cock(1 Abington Square also St Edmunds Road)

Bantam Cock Sign That this inn is of great antiquity there can be no doubt, although of course, being outside the town at the time it never became listed as an Ancient Inn in 1585. The building isn't original - only the sign.

As far as I can tell the sign is unique in England. There are plenty of Cocks and such as the Cock & ... Bottle, Dolphin, Trumpet etc., but only one Bantam Cock. One theory as to the name is that it was called thus to distinguish it from a popular Cock that stood at the bottom of Cock Lane (now Wood Street) off Abington Street. The Cock has always been popular if for no other reason that in the past cock-fighting in pubs was as common as quiz nights are today. Another, more interesting theory relates to a local family. In the past a Lady Cockayne lived in a house on part of Gobion's Farm, a small farm that actually existed inside the town walls. Her crest was three bantam cock heads and she may have well owned the inn in the past, it was common for gentry to use their arms or crest as a sign for their inns.

There is a document dated 1486 that refers to a Gilbert Lyster

holding ye inne just without Sainte Gyles on the road to Abingtone.

At the time the suburb of St. Edmund's End would have been well established and many houses would have grown up around the East Gate and the junction of the Wellingborough and Kettering Roads. Some of these properties would have definitely been inns. The document grants some very special privileges to Gilbert Lyster, so he must have been a man of influence. It is very likely that the document refers to this establishment and therefore puts it in the running as one of the oldest inns known in town. As far as I know only the Peacock, Catte etc. on Malt Row have earlier documentation. You could argue that the Bantam was outside the town at the time, but at least the sign is still flying, although it was changed to a pseudo-Irish name, but now is just The Bantam. [Unfortunately it has been changed again (2008) into another stupid name!] [And again, the present landlord has changed the name back to The Bantam.]

Being outside the town did have its advantages. Although it had a thatched roof at the time of the Great Fire of 1675 it was isolated from the blaze by Gobion's Farm and the town wall. It seems it was used for the shelter of some of the victims of the fire and the account written by a Country Minister of the fire shortly afterwards says:

Fortunately, there were surviving inns, such as the Bantam Cock, which could absorb the numerous strangers come in to view them (the ruins).

After the fire it was ordered that no more houses were to be built with thatched roofs in the town, so the Bantam Cock became one of the few thatched buildings in Northampton, it being outside the Town.

In the past the Bantam Cock would have been one of the last buildings on the Kettering Road before it gave way to open country. The Racecourse was common land and at the crossroads of the Kettering Road and the Kingsthorpe - Abington Lane (White Elephant junction) stood the town gibbet, where the public hangings took place. Tradition has it that as the Bantam was the last hostelry passed by the procession of the condemned it was here that the poor wretches took their last drink. No doubt, the hangman, sheriffs and the mob later returned to ‘celebrate’ the day's barbarity - so much for the good old days! Note that the gibbet stood on the south-east corner not where the Elephant is – the concrete ball recently installed (2008) on the Racecourse is in error.

I understand that this custom of having a drink on the way to an execution was common throughout the land. However, in some parts of the country, and perhaps here on occasions, the condemned prisoner wasn’t given a drink. As it was usual to convey the prisoner in the back of a cart or wagon, when the innkeeper asked if he was to have a drink as well the guard would respond with, No, he’s on the wagon. From where we are supposed to get that expression. On other occasions the prisoner would order drinks for himself and his guard and undertake to pay for them on the return trip!

I have in my possession a copy of an undated and anonymous booklet entitled, History of an Ancient Hostelry - the Bantam Cock Hotel, Northampton. I calculate from references in it that it must have been written between 1932 and 1938. Much of what is written below comes from this source and there are an excellent couple of pages on 'Old Time Hosts'. The first is a George Barratt in the year 1748 and the reference is probably from the Northampton Mercury. The Bantam being an inn it had to offer refreshment for a man and beast and it seems from the advertisement it did this well.

Here at ye `Bantam 'George Barratt mine host
Keeps a good table, bak'd, boyl'd and rost.

The Bantam Cock The author gives no date, but I calculate circa 1845 it became tenanted by a Mr. James Peach a market gardener who fancied that he had the fastest donkey in town. In 1849 he was challenged by another market gardener, Scorcher Smith to a race from the Racecourse to the Bantam. It seems the crowds turned out, but despite the best efforts of the jockeys the animals refused to run and merely ambled their way towards town. Apparently bets were taken and one of the punters knew that Peach's mount was in the habit of bolting when startled by a loud noise, so as they neared the Bantam he blew a blast on a tin trumpet. Peach's donkey promptly bolted and passed the winning line with a triumphant rider clinging desperately to its back!

The next landlord was Thomas Parker who took over in 1858. He was a local noted pugilist and many of his old pals used the Bantam as a gym. Political elections in the past were pretty lively occasions (see George and Red Lion) and it seems that during one of these he imported several of the old-time champions into the town as ‘heavies’ with the result that the Bantam was besieged by rival mobs and had to be barricaded!

In 1899 Mr. Augustus Esbury Davis took over the licence of what was now a limited company. In July 1904 he bought up all the shares. The business flourished and it was during this period that the house was completely rebuilt and improved.

The Barley Mow(30 Green Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Labour in Vain

A mow is a stack. Barley is used to make malt, so a stack of barley makes an apt sign for a pub.

The Barley Mow Inn(11 or 13 Foundry Street)

There are only two entries for this pub under its name, one in 1864 and the other 42 years later. It does appear under Beer-Retailers quite often in the 1890s and 1910s. The only named entry with a street number gives 13, but all the Beer-Retailer entries give 11 – it is possible that the numbering of the streets changed at some time. The Goad's Fire Insurance Plan 1899 show number 13 to be end of terrace and a dwelling, whereas number 11, two doors along is labelled PH. The pub stood three doors from the west end of the street on the north side, directly opposite a Sunday school. I wonder if they had any problems because of this?

The Barracks Canteen(Leicester Road [Barrack Road])

It is possible that this was part of the barracks, but I doubt it, I feel it is unlikely that a military mess would find itself in a commercial directory. It is only mentioned under its name twice, but it is given as an address for a Beer-Retailer once. The first entry has as the address Leicester Road. In 1847 Joseph Webb, the proprietor in the second entry of 1852, is given as, Webb, Joseph, Tailor and Shopkeeper, Hope's Place. Hope's Place was the side of the Barrack Road opposite the Barracks. The Webbs seem to have been a family of publicans, later Joseph turns up as a Grocer and Beer-Retailer in Lower Harding Street (this later became the Twenty-Fives) and still later at the Coach & Horses in George Row. Other Webbs at this time (1860s) were running the Old Chequers in Bath Street and the Rivetters Arms in Scarletwell Street.

The only other entry for the Canteen is in Slater 1862 as Bolshaw, Joshua, Barrack Canteen this is under Beer-Retailers. A Walter Bolshaw had the Green Tree in 1884 and the Kings Arms, Horsemarket in 1889 (see) Mrs. Elizabeth Bolshaw (his widow?) ran the Kings Arms up to 1910. According to the Chronicle & Echo 1908 Sgt-Major Bolshaw, late of the Death or Glory Boys (17th Lancers), now landlord of the Town Arms, Great Russell Street. According to the Magistrates Records Joshua William Bolshaw had the Town Arms until November 1909.

It looks like this was a short-lived establishment that perhaps became something else. There were several small pubs with patriotic or military names in the area about this time, no doubt catering for thirsty soldiers – and probably run by ex-soldiers. Sometimes the best address I can get is something vague like, Hope’s Place and one example with this address; the Red, White and Blue, could easily have been its successor.

The Bat and Wickets(117 Bailiff Street)

This pub is still with us, on the corner of Louise Road and Bailiff Street. The name probably refers to cricket played on the Racecourse nearby, although these days it seems to be played more at the other end, closer to the White Elephant. Perhaps this is why, at the time of writing, the pub has a golfing club, but no cricket team. The earliest reference to this address, which can’t be long after it was built, is 1878 when it is listed as a Beer-Retailers.

The Old Bath Tavern(97 Bath Street [Row])

This pub stood on the eastern end of Bath Row on the corner, opposite what is now Compton House. It is first mentioned in 1858 when James Pointer is described as a Beer-Retailer. It first appears under the name of Bath Tavern in 1878. Although there seem to be no more references after 1910 this pub could have continued for many more years. It was a fairly small back-street beer-shop and probably chose not to advertise.

Of interest is a photograph from the Borough Architect’s Department, which claims to have been taken in 1974 (probably 1964 see below) prior to the demolition of the area. It is a general shot of Bath Row and clearly shows a foreshortened view of the pub in a dilapidated condition. The painted sign is still there, but badly weathered and unreadable, even if it does have anything on it. It could by the time of this picture have been a private house. The O/S 2500 Plan 1964 shows the site of the pub as cleared of all buildings.

This is an obvious case of a pub getting its name from the street. In the 18th century a Cold Bath was constructed by the river and the street that led down to it became called Bath Street.

The Bay Horse(Mounts and Upper Mounts Street)


Only two entries for this one; Burgess 1845, Harvey – Mounts, and Hickman, R. Harvey – Upper Mount street. During this period the eastern end of Lady’s Lane from Park Street to the Lower Mounts was known as Mount Street. As both this and the Mounts are given as addresses it seems reasonable to assume that this pub stood at the end of Mount Street on the Mounts, probably on the corner between these two. Law's 1847 map shows no buildings on the southern corner.

A bay is a horse colour, ranging from light brown to rich mahogany, but always with black points, i.e. mane and tail. This distinguishes it from any variety of chestnut. This Bay Horse was probably a Cleveland Bay, a breed of Coach Horse.

The Bear(11 Sheep Street)

Also: The Tavern in the Town

Bear Sign There was a Bear in Bearward Street in the 16th and 17th centuries and this is probably it, although this piece of frontage is now called Sheep Street.

In the Northampton Mercury March 5th 1737 a Bear and Ragged Staff in Sheep Street was advertised for let. This, without doubt, is the Bear. It was common in the past, as it is today to contract pub names – when I was a lad I went, down the Lion not, to the Black Lion. So this probably represents its ‘official’ name, the one used on deeds etc.

The Bear and Ragged Staff is a well known heraldic crest, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick’s consisted of a bear, muzzled with a collar and chained to a rugged (ragged) tree-stump. A more local connection is with the Bernards (or Barnards) of Abington, who owned the Estate from circa 1450 until they sold it to William Thursby in 1669 for £13,750.

The Bear However, it is more likely that the sign was chosen not because of its heraldic connections, but for the Bearward – where bears were warded or kept for the nasty purpose of bear-baiting. A despicable sport (made illegal in 1835) where dogs were set on a chained bear and bets taken on the outcome.

The Bear appears in the Universal Directory 1791, indicating its status at the time. It is also on Law's 1847 map, he only showed inns that were of importance to visitors to the town; this was the main motive for publishing it, so it was a substantial establishment at this time.

Sadly, as I write this (1997) the rather pleasant frontage of this pseudo-Tudor pub has been ripped out and a rather bland brick frontage inserted. Even worse, the name, for no good reason I can see but for the present fashion, has been changed to the Grogger’s Rest, a name that has no connection with our town in any way. A few years ago, for a short while it was called The Tavern in the Town – but it reverted to the original name and I am sure it will again. [It did (2008)].

The Bearward Arms(33 Bearward Street)

Also: The Dun Cow (before 1869)

Also: The Burghley Arms (before 1898)

This pub stood three parts of the way along Bearward Street, tucked amongst the houses. This establishment seems to have a long career; the earliest entry I have found in the directories is 1830 and the last 1954. Even then it continued for a few more years as the Northampton Electric Sports & Social Club.

The Bearward Arms The sign of the Bearward Arms obviously derives from street name, but the other two are potentially more interesting. Lord Burghley was a trusted advisor of Queen Elizabeth I and as is mentioned more than once elsewhere in this book, the 'Good Queen Bess' had more than a passing interest in the inns and taverns of her realm, perhaps Lord Burghley had some part in this?

The Dun Cow is mentioned in 12th century Irish legend and Guy of Warwick is supposed to have killed a Dun Cow of huge proportions and evil temperament (refer to the entry for: The Guy of Warwick). Guy was a Saxon hero, son of Simon Baron of Wallingford and married Felicia; daughter of Roband, Earl of Warwick, a title he came to inherit. An old rhyme goes:

By gallant Guy of Warwick slain
Was Colbrand, that gigantic Dane;
Nor could this desp’rate champion daunt
A Dun Cow bigger than an elephant:

But he, to prove his courage sterling,
His whyniard in her blood imbrued;
He cut from her enormous side a sirloin,
And in his porridge-pot her brisket stew’d:
Then butcher’d a wild Boar and ate him barbicu’d.

It is a pity that this interesting sign was superseded. According to NN&Q 1887 the Dun Cow at West Haddon had the following rhyme on its signboard. I wonder if our Dun Cow had a similar sign over its door?

I am the cow that ne’er did low
My skin’s as soft as silk
Come, gentlemen, return again
And taste of my sweet milk

The Beehive(50 Cow Lane [Swan Street])

Beehive This sign is a symbol of business and hard endeavour and has been used by banks and like institutions in the past. However, in this case I feel it is supposed to engender an image of a busy and thriving pub.

It was a beer shop, but I know little about this pub, or its exact location, but I do have a rhyme from the 18th century used on a sign in Cumbria:

In this hive we are all alive
Good liquor makes us funny,
If you be dry, step in and try
The virtue of our honey.

The Bees Wing(2 St Edmunds Row)

One entry under the name, Taylor 1864, Sarah A. Johnson, proprietor. I have also found her under beer-retailers in 1866 and 1871 listed as in Kettering Road. She may have moved a short distance, or it could be due to inaccuracies in the directories, for St. Edmund’s Row is really the beginning of the Wellingborough Road. The pub would have been on the north side of the road, probably opposite the Volunteer. The properties here were very small and the Bees Wing either didn’t last very long, or couldn’t run to the expense of directory insertions.

Northampton has had two pubs of this name and there are two possible explanations for the name, racehorses and port. Beeswing was a mare that had a very successful career from 1835 to 1842 at Wellingborough and York, so there is a certain local connection. Another Beeswing won the Liverpool Autumn Cup in 1866.

On quality port you will find a beeswing - a sort of optical effect. Calling pubs by this name would imply that good port, and presumably other drinks of quality, were obtainable on the premises. Traditionally port was drunk by Tories and punch by Whigs so it could also be an indication of the politics of the establishment.

The Bees Wing(Todd's Lane [18 Grafton Street])

The reason why I have shown the name of these two pubs as Bees Wing and not Beeswing like the racehorses – or even Bee's Wing is that a photograph taken early in the 20th century has it thus. Although I have records of this pub from directories for 55 years I know little about it.

The Bell (Le Belle)(Swinwel-strete [Derngate])

A rental of 1504 describes land next the postern called Derngate (Derngate was originally a gate, not a thoroughfare) and adjoining land belonging to the chapel of Blessed Mary the Virgin in All Saints’ Church and the Fraternity of the Holy Trinity. It included four inns, le Crown, le Bell, le Tabard and le Bulle. (VCH Vol.III p.19). This is the only reference I have to these inns

Bell I have two inns of this name in Northampton, both of considerable antiquity. There was also a Five Bells in Wellington Street and another Five Bells survives on the Harborough Road, but under another name. To add to these we have also had two Blue Bells.

In the past the sound of a bell was believed to protect those who heard it from lightening or storms, so this could be a possible explanation for the name. Even simpler is that the original proprietor’s name was Bell. Handel said that the national musical instrument of England was the bell, we being so fond of it and it is a fairly common pub sign nationally. However, I think that most of the inns and pubs of any age with this name have it because of its religious connections and I would think this is true for both the Bells in this town.

The Bell(18 Bridge Street)

Also: The Birds Nest

Also: Opus 2

This Bell is one of the Ancient Inns listed in the Assembly Order 1585. Undoubtedly this inn goes back a long way, being as it was on the main north-south route through the medieval town.

The Bell The building still stands although the pub closed in the 1960s. At the time of writing it is the premises of Woolwich Property Services and the ground floor is very different from when it was a pub. The building itself is 18th century, or earlier and from the outside the first floor looks very much as I remember it when I used to drink here in the 1960s. This was one of three pubs in the town that sold ‘scrumpy’ – I’m not sure how authentic this scrumpy was, but it was cloudy and very strong. The Bell was the worst place to buy it. The landlord would simply roll out a firkin behind the bar, whack in a peg and tap and start serving it at once! It was cheap and we Beatniks did not drink beer (I’m not sure why now, perhaps it was because we were living in Watneyland) We either drank cider or Merrydown wines, which were folksy drinks such as elderberry and hedgerow. All these were available at the Bell and around the corner, in Gold Street, was the jazz club, so we regularly patronised the place.

LOST on Sat. 28th. May, between Daventry and Bugbrook, a new Suit of Headcloths and Ruffles, With a scallop’d Edging a work’d Handkerchief, a black hood, a blew silk Apron; a green Ribbon and a green Girdle. Whosever brings them to the Swan at Daventry, the Bell in Northampton, the Saracen’s Head in Tocester, shall have ten Shillings Reward.
Northampton Mercury June 13 1720

These three inns above were all coaching inns and as can be seen the Bell was a place of local importance at the time. A marriage notice in the Mercury May 2nd 1789 tells of a Mr. John George, late master of the Bell Inn in this town, aged 52 to Mary Merryweather of the same place, aged 19.

The Bell is included in the Universal British Directory 1791, emphasising its relative importance at the time. We know that it was called the Bell in 1585 from the Assembly Order and as it was an 'Ancient Inn' it probably had that name for a long time before that. The religious connotations of the name indicate that it could have started life as a medieval Hospice as mentioned in the Introduction. In the 1970s its name changed to the Birds Nest, which is, or was, a pub-chain name. The pub was in decline and the change was to no avail and in the 1980s the conversion to the Opus 2 didn’t succeed either – so after at least 400 years this inn vanished from Bridge Street.

The Belvedere(31 St Giles Street)

Also: The Recruiting Serjeant

Also: The Boot and Shoe

The name of this pub is unusual; a belvedere is a raised turret from which scenery could be viewed (from bel beautiful and vedere see). It could be that Joseph Barker, who changed the name, simply liked it. It is also possible that it is the name of a racehorse. The earlier name refers to a recruiting serjeant that probably used the pub for exactly that purpose; it is not a rare name. The Boot & Shoe, which it was called for a time after 1978, refers to the once staple trade of the town. This is a case, in my opinion, where a name change has been acceptable, however, we now have gone back to the Belvedere, and that’s not bad either (and it’s changed again, 2008).

This pub is still with us at the end of Fish Street. The earliest date I've got for it is 1824, but considering the site there could have been a pub here, perhaps under some other name, much earlier.

The Bicycle Tavern(42 or 44 Wellingborough Road)

Bicycle Tavern
This pub was on the south side of the road about halfway between Victoria Road and St. Edmund’s Terrace. The 1884 entry indicated a beer-shop. It closed sometime between 1934 and 1938.

About a century ago cycling was the past-time and many pubs in Northampton had their own cycling clubs (see the Bird-in-Hand). The other great hobby at the time was pedestrianism, see the Pedestrian

The Bird-in-Hand(4 Regent Square)

Bird-in-Hand This pub is still with us, but recently changed its name (2009). It is often thought that pubs with this name owe it to the proverb a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – the Bush being a rival pub nearby! I have no evidence for a Bush being anywhere near this establishment and its name is the Bird in Hand, not the Bird in THE Hand. It probably refers to falconry (was there a mews nearby in the past?) or its heraldic, fists with falcons are quite common crests.

The earliest reference I have to it is in 1824, although considering its position on the main route through the medieval town and its proximity to the North Gate it could have been here for a long time before the directories began in 1791.

In the 19th century one of the great past-times was cycling. With the invention of the bicycle people of quite modest means suddenly had a means of travelling good distances in a day and all over the land during their holidays. Pubs and inns throughout the land responded to this new market by providing accommodation, teas, etc, and often advertised such outside their premises. Cycling clubs sprang up and many of these based their headquarters in pubs. Around 1910 it had a sign above the door, Head Quarters of the Northampton Rovers Bicycle Club. This club originally was for riders of the new Rover chain-driven bicycles, as opposed to the ordinary or penny-farthing, but later they admitted anybody. James Birt, one time safety cycling champion of the world, held the licence of this pub from at least 1889 - 1900.

Once a year this club held what they called the High Hat Run, when they dressed up in old-fashioned clothes and rode their most antiquated machines around town and then out to Franklin’s Gardens. The Carnival Parade, once called the Cycle Parade which used to be on a Thursday in June and raised money for the hospital developed out of this jaunt.

The Birds Nest

Refer to the entry for: The Bell

The Bishop Blaize(Market Square)

The only information I have on this inn is from pre-Great Fire (1675) documents - it was probably destroyed in that fire and never rebuilt.

Bishop Blaize or St. Blazius was a bishop in Cappadocia and became the patron saint of woolworkers and woolcombers. The reason for this was that his body was torn to pieces with iron combs - not a nice way to go! Northampton was once an important wool town and this is just one of the many signs that allude to this trade.

The Blackamores Head(Location Unknown)

The Oxford Dictionary gives the meaning of Blackamore as, Negro; dark-skinned person. - it could have referred to a Moor - Northern African Arab, so it is possible that this is another version of the Saracen's Head. The reference I have to this pub is from Peter Hayden's excellent book, The English Pub, A History:

The Blackamoore's Head, in Northampton, would certainly have had a ballroom, for that was the seat of Northamptonshire aristocracy, who could not be without their own inn but, of course, could not be associated with trade. As such, the Blackamoore's Head was never one of the town's great inns.

From this I guess that it must have been an 18th century inn. I have found no other references to it and considering its apparent importance, I wonder why?

The Black Boy(55 Upper Mount Street)

Also: The Labour in Vain

A good example of the vernacular name superseding the original, has been referred to Washing the Blackamoor White in the past, this is explained under Labour in Vain, Green Street. The following advertisement states:

SALE Liquidation – Thos. Clarke, Baker and Beerseller…The Stock-in Trade includes a four-pull beer engine & piping, pewter beer measures, mugs, jugs, large & small sweet ale barrels, brewing plant, large balance weighing machine and weights, bakers’ peels, hand truck, pony, cart, and nearly new set of harness, chaff cutter stable utensils etc.
Northampton Mercury Oct 5th 1878

It was two doors from the Town Arms, the first entry is 1845, became the Black Boy circa 1858 and the last entry is 1910.

The Black Boy Hotel(5 Wood Hill)

The Black Boy Hotel The Black Boy stood on Wood Hill on part of the site recently occupied by the Midland Bank (HSBC). I remember in the 1950s my mother telling me that this was a posh place and I seem to recall boys liveried like American bellhops being about the place.

It closed its doors forever in January 1963 when I was 17. Although, like everyone else I drank underage I hadn’t been into this place above once because of its then rough reputation. My only visit wasn’t a very long one and I recall American servicemen drinking in there, a lot of boisterous behaviour and gaudily dressed young ladies.

From descriptions it seems the cellars of this establishment were vaulted and extended under the road. There are many cellars like this in the town and are usually of the 17th or 18th centuries; however, if this is real vaulting and I don’t know if it is, then the cellars probably predated the Great Fire of 1675, which would have destroyed the building above. When the bank closed I was allowed into the vaults, however because of their secure construction there was no evidence of ancient cellars (2008). A Court was held after the Fire to decide claims, if cellars could be identified and cleared of debris a claim would be easy to prove, and if they were still sound a new building could be built straight on top of the old foundations. There was an inn called the Crown on Wood Hill before the Fire and these could have been its cellars.

There is more than one explanation for the origins of the name, Black Boy. It is unlikely that it is a colloquialism (refer to the entry for: The Black Boy, The Mounts); it could refer to the black servants who were once popular, or a blackamore employed in the 18th century to advertise the new-fangled coffee shops. There is no record of it being called anything else and there is a notice of a stolen horse that mentions this inn in the Northampton Mercury 1722 and 1731 when the late widow Holloway (now Smith) moved from the Chequer to here. My theory is that the inn was named in honour of King Charles II.

General Monk was one of Cromwell’s men who became disenchanted with the Commonwealth and a supporter of the return of the Monarchy. As I understand it he considered that he owed fealty to England, not any individual, but to what was best for the country. Whilst Charles II was still in exile Monk made a point by drinking his health with, to my Bonnie Black Boy! Apparently Charles was very swarthy, having Moorish blood from his mother’s side and this was his nickname.

King Charles II was not too impressed with Northampton as we had supported the Parliamentary cause during the Civil War. At the time the town was still heavily fortified and to pre-vent any possible resistance from this strategically important town he ordered that our Castle and walls be slighted - i.e. partly demolished so they could not be easily repaired. In 1675 the Great Fire of Northampton struck, completely destroying large parts of the town. A disaster fund was set up and contributions came from all over the land from £5,000 (a huge sum) from the City of London to 10 shillings (50p) from Shernford. The King gave 1,000 tunns of timber (a tunn is forty cubic feet) from the Royal forest of Whittlebury and remitted the duty of chimney-money for seven years. It seems the wood was for the rebuilding of All Saints Church, which had been largely destroyed, but for the tower (Burnt red stone can still be seen just inside the west door.) Legend has it that the surplus wood was used in the foundations of the new inn built on Wood Hill. I think that instead of calling the inn by its old name of the Crown they chose to honour Charles by using his nickname.

Although I have said that I recall the Black Boy having a reputation in the 1960s, this certainly wasn’t the case in earlier years. Through the whole of the 1920s this hotel was run first by William Bell and then by his widow, Edith. From all accounts it was a commodious building, hosting a number of organisations that made their headquarters here, including the Queen Eleanor Lodge of the R.A.O.B., the Managers and Foreman’s Association, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and the Railway Transport Workers. It had 14 bedrooms, 2 lounges, a large dining room big enough for 50 guests, smoke room and bars. An adjacent garage was purchased so cars could be ‘put up’ and repairs done on the spot. A back entrance meant guests didn't have to go through the bars to their rooms.

This state of affairs continued into the 1950s. The England v. Scotland Soccer International at Wembley on April 14th 1951 resulted in two bookings from Glasgow football enthusiasts as the local paper called them. One party stayed overnight whilst another group of 70 stopped off for breakfast here. Cars by now were parked in a spacious yard to the rear. The back entrance to Dychurch lane was still in use and led into the remnants of an ancient foot-path that used to run from All Saints Church to Weston Favell village. Some of this path can still be traced. You could pass from Wood Hill through the old bank and out the rear door into Dychurch Lane, along the Riding and the north side of St. Giles’ churchyard into St Edmund’s Road. Part of this used to be called Bird’s Piece and the name can still be seen on the west corner at the top of Denmark Road. The path is blocked by St. Edmund’s churchyard and disappears for a few streets beyond. Until recently it ran as a ‘jitty’ parallel to the Wellingborough Road from West Street to Wilby Street, only the eastern end of this now remains and it ends at the bottom of Collins Street near the Crown & Cushion pub.

The Black Boy and Still (Bridge Street)

There are only two entries for this pub, both in Pigot - 1842 Jno. Humfrey and 1830 Rbt. Butcher. A Robert Butcher had the Plumber’s Arms in Sheep Street according to Kelly 1847. There is no sign of either Humfrey or Butcher in any of the directories consulted under beer-retailers, but there is a Silvanus Humphry, Chemist and Druggist, Bridge Street in Kelly 1847. Although the spelling is different there is a connection in that the sign Black Boy & Still can be attributed to the arms of the Apothecaries. Much of our early medical knowledge came from the Arabs or Moors and the Apothecaries’ arms included one of these gentlemen – easily mistaken for a Black Boy.

The Black Horse(Bailiff Street)

Only Burgess 1845 lists this pub by name, Allebone - Black Horse - Bailiff st. Hickman 1847 lists, Allebone J., Bailiff street, Beer-retailer. Even by Taylor 1864 there seem to be few properties in Bailiff Street, but without more information I have no certain way to locate it.

We have had two definite and one possible Black Horse in Northampton, one in Bailiff Street and another in Bridge Street. Whether either of these were heraldic in origin I cannot tell, but the horse, as common a sight in days gone by as the motorcar is today, often figured on pub signs. In Northampton we have had as many as twelve pubs with horse signs, from Bay, Black and Flying to the surviving Golden and Race-. There were also seven with either Horse & ----, or ---- & Horse as well as three Horseshoes and others with specifically named (race) horses such as the Beeswing and Eclipse.

The Black Horse(148 & 150 Bridge Street)

Although this pub is mentioned in fourteen directories from 1845 to 1901 I have nothing more on it. As near as I can ascertain this pub stood on the west side of lower Bridge Street about opposite Navigation Row and probably disappeared when Phipps’ Brewery was enlarged. A new fermenting house, cask washing yards, coopers’ shops, boiler house, smithy and dray sheds were built in 1905 – along with a complete reconstruction of the brewhouse and rearrangement of the bottling stores. I am indebted to Mr. Geoffery Starmer for this information.

The Black Horse(St Gyles Streete)

We have from the Great Fire Court 1675 - Toft or piece of ground situate on the north side of St. Gyles streete in the Towne of Northampton next adjoyning to a howse there called the black horse.... It is possible that this wasn't an inn as it is only referred to as a howse.

We also have a Rental of 1504 that lists several inns in the area and a house: - There were inns called 'le Crown', 'le ‘bell', 'le Tabard' & 'le Bulle' & a house called 'le Blakhall', in St. Giles st... Is le Blakhall the Black Horse, and if so, was it ever an inn? As it was pre-Fire and doesn’t seem to have been rebuilt we will probably never know.

The Black Lion

Black Lion Sign This sign is not too common, but we have had two of them, both still with us. One with the prefix Old and the other with a name change.

There can be little doubt that the sign is heraldic in origin and it is possible that it came from the arms of Queen Phillipa of Hainault, wife of Edward III (1327-1377) or it could be the ensign of Owain Glendower, the Welsh rebel who led a successful revolt against the English. He defeated Henry the Fourth in three campaigns (1405-1413) and styled himself Prince of Wales. Owain disappeared around 1416 after he had waged a guerrilla war on the English for several years. It is thought that Welshmen often set up the sign of the Black Lion.

If the above is correct then I cannot see any Welshman putting up such a sign until the English had forgotten its meaning. This would mean that it was unlikely that a Black Lion was called such until at least 1500.

The Old Black Lion  (1 Black Lion Hill)

Old Black Lion 1There can be little doubt that this pub goes back a long way and it is one of the contenders for the oldest pub in town. The RBN 1898 lists it as one of the 16th and 17th century inns, but I've not seen the documents. The Good Beer Guide 1997, CAMRA describes this establishment as ....stone built in the 12th century - this is, of course, an error!

The pub today consists of two addresses, numbers 1 and 3, the pub having in the recent past expanded into the shop next door. Both these properties are Grade II Listed Buildings. The original inn is 17th century with some 19th century additions whilst number 3 was an 18th century cottage.

In the past Black Lion Hill ran right across what is now the end of St. Peter's Way and joined up with Western Terrace. All that now remains is this pub at the east and another pub that was the Star, now a club, at the west. (The Star is now demolished 2010). The line of buildings curved back here giving a wide space opposite the entrance to the railway station. This predated the station and must have had something to do with the Castle. Chalk Lane is directly opposite the pub and its curve to the west outlines where the eastern ramparts of the Castle's inner bailey stood. Although I have no proof I am prepared to believe that some sort of drinking establishment has stood hereabouts from mediaeval times.

Surprisingly, this establishment does not appear in the directories until 1862, and all attempts to trace it back to an earlier date have proved fruitless. Perhaps it was so successful at the time it didn't feel the need to advertise. There is an advertisement from the Northampton Mercury 1735 about dogs stolen from the Black Lyon in Northampton that could very well refer to this pub, although the other Black Lion probably appeared about 1720. No doubt it was the appearance of this new Black Lion in St. Giles' Street that prompted the prefix Old to distinguish it from the upstart. An advertisement from the Northampton Mercury July 1729 has:

At the BLACK LYON in Northampton is kept by Samuel Smith, the famous Stallion, late belonging to Sir Arthur Hesilrige, known by the Name of Red Rose: which will cover Mares this Season, at half a Guinea a Leap, and 6d. the Man. Hesilrige House is near this pub.

Old Black Lion 2 John Roddis (1862) was the first proprietor in the directories and it could have been his son, another (?) John Roddis, who advertised the Black Lion in 1884. He styled it The Old Black Lion Hotel and offered, Cabs, Flys, Wagonettes, Dog Carts, Etc. for hire, good horses, and careful and obliging drivers. He also advertised, Good Loose Boxes. Livery & Bait Stables, Lock-up Coach Houses.

The pub originally had an entrance or carriageway on the right that led through to a yard and extensive outbuildings as well as a long back wing. This entrance is now sealed up and is, along with the shop next door, now part of the lounge. Some of the outbuildings remain and must have been part of the facilities that John Roddis described. A few years ago I noticed several iron rings stapled to the wall of one of these buildings and was informed by an old boy that these were used to chain up the prisoners while they had their last drink before being taken over the road to the Castle to be executed! These rings are stapled to a brick wall, which cannot be older than 150 years. Anyone who is familiar with stables would recognise the significance of the size and position of these rings. This illustrates how easily stories can grow up and sometimes become accepted as fact.

The Black Lion(19 St Giles Street)

Also: The Wig and Pen

The Black Lion I have it from someone who had sight of the deeds many years ago that this pub started life as a coffeehouse called the Plasterers' Arms and changed to the Black Lion in 1720. Through much of its past it had been associated with the theatre and variety halls. In those days this pub was the local headquarters of the Variety Hall Artists' Association. It seems that many towns had such a place. Performers were always on the move and their local headquarters would always put them up or find them accommodation as well as helping them out in times of trouble.

I can remember as a child (what was I doing in there?) seeing lots of signed photographs of performers in frames on the walls of the back room. This room (men only) resembled a gentlemens' club with a billiard table under the skylight (the skylight is still there, but covered over) and large comfortable leather chairs scattered around. By the time I was old enough to drink here the place had changed considerably although it never lost its connection with the world of entertainment. In the 1960s the back room became Northampton's equivalent of Liverpool's Cavern Club where local up and coming musicians started, or ended their careers.

It was during this time that the Lion acquired a new name, unlike the present one this was unofficial, a nickname. In 1957 a childrens' animated series appeared on television called The Adventures of Captain Pugwash. This pirate and his jolly crew had a ship called The Black Pig. The Black Lion Nutters Club, started for fun and charity fund raising, dubbed the pub with this name - even this name swiftly got shortened to just The Pig!

Many pubs claim to be haunted, and this is one of them. The Chronicle & Echo 9th December 1966 interviewed five ex-landlords who claimed to have experienced something uncanny on the premises. These were the usual pub type phenomena; lights on after being turned off, casks in the cellar moved, footsteps, doors opening on their own and shadowy figures glimpsed through glass doors and partitions. One theory offered was the murder of Annie Pritchard by Andrew McRae in 1892. He is supposed to have boiled her head, arms and baby in a bacon boiler on his brother’s premises near the pub. The body, minus head and arms was found in a sack in a ditch near Althorp Station. He was sentenced to death on Christmas Eve 1892 and executed in January of the following year.

There is an undercroft attached to this pub, a lower cellar going out under the street. These are quite common in the town in 18th century buildings. I examined it in the 1970s and found it to be typical of its kind. Unfortunately many of the regulars were having none of this and preferred to stick to the erroneous idea that it was part of the fabled Monk's Passages that are supposed to honeycomb Northampton's underground. This has been put forward as a source of the supernatural events, but the ghosts reported are a heavily built man with a dog and a woman in a riding habit – not a monk's habit.

This ghost or ghosts do not seem to want to harm anyone, and although people have reported feeling cold and dogs are scared, it doesn't seem to be very scary. I believe, if there is a ghost, it’s the ghost of Teddy Dunkley. He was landlord for 40 years; by all accounts a great character and the one who really made the place a centre for the entertainment business. After what was done to his pub in 1993 I should think his spirit has departed, never to return!

I think that I should add that in the 1960s, one night after closing time whilst packing up my light-show I saw something I can’t explain. Bob Brewer, the landlord saw it as well and he couldn’t explain it either. I like to think it was Teddy Dunkley locking up.

The Black Man(30 Green Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Labour in Vain

The Black Raven(Newland)

The Black Raven is a badge of the old Scottish kings, the House of Stuart and Jacobites, it figured in the arms of Mary I and the Macdonalds. So it looks like there may have been a Scottish connection to this sign. There is hearsay evidence that this establishment was adjoining Welsh House, so it would have been at the bottom of Newland, almost on the Market Square. This is borne out by the advertisement in the Northampton Mercury November 1747 quoted below. In fact, the only evidence I have are three advertisements from the Mercury, two in 1747 and one in 1759. It gone by the 1880s as it is referred to as only a memory. It could be another name for the Black Spread Eagle.

To Be Lett. And Entered upon immediately.
A Good Accustom'd Publick House, Known by the Name of the BLACK RAVEN in Newland, near the Market-Hill in Northampton standing well for a Market Trade.
Enquire of Mr. Henry Peach, in Northampton aforesaid

The one that appeared before this in September informed the readers that Moses Tibbs was moving from the Black Raven to the Bell Inn. The only other advertisement appeared twelve years later:

NOTICE is hereby given,
THAT DOCTOR FISHER, from Onley, will be at the Black Raven in Newland, Northampton, on MARKET & Fair-Days, to be spoken with by any Person concerning his Business Of Sergeon and Man-Midwife.
WILLIAM FISHER

The Blacks Head(38 Albert Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Wellington

The Black Spread Eagle(Market Hill [Square])

Black Spread Eagle This sign was on Market Hill in the first part of the eighteenth century and may never actually have been an inn. An advertisement from the Northampton Mercury March 1720 is for a Dr. Walpole of Ecton, Rupture-Master – to be spoke with every Saturday at the Spread Eagle. This does imply an inn, as on market days various specialists would hire a room in an inn and to carry on their business with the market visitors.

A year later John Balderton at the Black Spread Eagle, same address, was making and selling the New Italian Weather-Glass - it appears to have been a combined barometer and thermometer. By 1722 John Balderton had become a seedsman and fruiterer and reverted in his advertisement to calling his premises the Spread Eagle.

Heraldically the Black Spread Eagle is associated with Victoria Adelaide, daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert. As she was born in 1840 there can be no connection here. It may be, however, connected with Germany - but it also figures on the arms of Overstone.

It is not impossible that over the years the Eagle became a Raven and this establishment is the same as one of that name. There is also on record a 16-17th century inn whose location is unknown called the Spread Eagle - so it is possible that they are all the same place.

The Black Swan(17 or 33 Green Lane or Street)

There is some confusion as to this pub's location. Green Street according to the O/S 1901 ran into the Green and then onto Green Lane. If this pub was in the lane it had disappeared under the Gas Works by O/S 1938.

The Blast Tavon(Newland?)

This is an unusual name and I have no idea as to its origin. There is only one mention of it, in an indenture of 1677:

ALL that Messuage or Tenement or Inne called or knowne by the name or Sign of the Blast Tavon- situate or being in or neere a street or lane called the Newland in the Parish of All Saints....

The Old Blue Anchor(1 or 3 Castle Street)

The anchor is a symbol of hope and blue is the colour of fidelity, so I am informed. The sign of the anchor is often interpreted as a religious or nautical according to its location and antiquity. This pub, according to Wright 1884 was a beer-house - so was probably not that ancient and we are about as far from the sea here as you can get. In the politics of the past blue was the colour of the Whigs, as opposed to the scarlet of the Royalists. This area would indicate that a Whig proprietor would have been a lot more popular than a Royalist one.

The Fire Insurance Plan 1899 shows houses and Public Houses in Castle Street and this establishment stood on the south side of the street, at the east end.

The Blue Ball(Barrack Road)

There are several possible meanings to this sign, although this pub may never have existed. It can represent a crystal ball and be the sign of a fortune teller, it can represent the Globe and as such be the cognisance of Portugal implying the sale of Portuguese wines – not likely in a beer-shop or it can represent the South Sea Company, perhaps the landlord having lost most of his assets opened a humble ale house. Of course, it could be simply that he likes the sign. The only reference to this pub is from the Chronicle & Echo 29th April 1959:

He remembers (3)
In its first days the Salvation Army was housed in a pub recalls 85-year old William Cox, of 36 Malcolm-rd. At the time of the take-over the licensed days of the Blue Ball – which was situated in Barrack-rd, opposite the Barracks were over and the Salvations turned it into a coffee house.

Unfortunately I came upon this reference forty years after it was written so it has not been possible to interview Mr. Cox! It is possible that this is a Blue Bell. William Marriott had a Blue Bell in St. Mary’s Street between 1861 and 1867, but also a beer shop in the Barrack Road in 1866 (see entry below).

The Blue Bell

There are three possibilities for the origin of this sign; that like the simple Bell in Bridge Street, it is a religious sign that it refers to the flower or the song Bluebell of Scotland.

Blue in the past was the cheapest colour and also the most hard wearing, it was also the colour that faded last - this is still true, look at any polychrome poster that’s been up for a while. Inn signs are the art that takes the most battering, so a blue anything would be a good choice.

According to an old book I have on the language of flowers the Bluebell means True and Tender and although most landlords would like their customers to remain True and come back, Tender could only apply, I feel, to the Tendering of hard cash rather than asking for credit!

The Blue Bell(47 and 49 St Marys Street)

Only one entry as the Blue Bell, Taylors 1864, William Marriott. He appears as a beer-retailer at this address in 1861, 62, 64 and 67; but he also appears in 1866 as a beer-retailer in Leicester Road and again in 1869 at Hope's Place (which was in Leicester, now Barrack, Road) at the Spread Eagle. The entries for St. Mary's street of 1861 and 1867 are both from Melville so it could be that they didn’t update properly. This was probably another small beer-shop that survived from about 1861 to 1864. Roberts 1884 street list gives no beer-retailers or pubs for this address.

The Blue Bell(Russell Terrace)

Burgess 1845: - Lawrence - Blue Bell - Russell-terrace. This is the only reference I can find to this establishment. Burgess appears to have been very thorough and listed many small beer-shops that don’t appear elsewhere. Russell Terrace was a narrow dead-end running west off Cow-Lane (Swan Street) not far from Victoria Promenade. It was largely made up of tiny ‘two-up two-down’ properties, as can be seen from the O/S 2500 plan 1901 - by the plan of 1938 they had all gone. The Blue Bell was probably one of these small houses operating as a shop with one room to drink in and just serving the immediate vicinity. In the 1860s there was a beer-retailer, William Lawrence at 40 West Street (refer to the entry for: The Good Intent).

The Blue Boar(Gold Street)

Also: The Blue Boar (Market Hill or Square)

I have grouped these two together because they appear to be linked and the best way to explain this is to quote from NN&Q Volume III 1889:

The town may have boasted of two Blue Boars at the same time-the one on Market hill, and the other in Gold street; -unless the former was abandoned and its name or sign added to that of the Shoemaker’s Arms, in Gold street. This theory is not improbable for according to Peter Peirce, the Blue Boar had but a poor reputation in 1764. His advertisement of April 16, 1764, ran as follows:

As, I some time, since proposed to quit the Red-Lyon in the Horse-Market, Northampton, and, to that Purpose, had taken the Blue-Boar on the Market-Hill in the said Town, the Notion of which has been very detrimental; obliges me to take this Publick Method to assure all Gentlemen, Dealers, etc. that I have entirely quitted the Blue-Boar, and continue the Red-Lyon; where all such, who please to favour me with their Custom, may depend on the best Accommodations, and their Favours will be gratefully Acknowledged by Their obedient Servant, Peter Peirce.

The Blue Boar The explanation for this sign is well known. The badge of Richard III was a white boar. After his defeat and death inn signs that bore (no pun intended!) his badge were swiftly changed. No landlord wanted to be associated with the losing side; it was bad for business and a long life. Signs have always been expensive so the easiest and cheapest way to change the sign was to simply paint the boar blue. The Blue Boar was also the crest of the Earl of Oxford who figured well in the placing of Henry VII on the throne. As the Tudors ruled this country until the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 this sign was a patriotic one for 120 years - long enough to become well established.

The Boat(12 College Street)

This is only mentioned twice, by Whellan 1874 and Kelly 1877 proprietor, James Lancaster. I believe that this is an example of printers cribbing from each other - including their mistakes. As James Lancaster is listed as the proprietor of the The Boot Inn at 12 College Street in both 1876 and 1878 I don’t think there can be any doubt that this is an error.

The Boat(Old Towcester Road, Cotton End)

This old building was still standing a few years ago, unfortunately it has been destroyed for a Carlsberg car park. Undoubtedly the boat referred to is a narrow boat as the pub stood on the west side of the little spur of the Old Towcester Road close to the canal lock.

The Boat and Horse(St Peters Street and Freeschool Street)

Also: The Odd Fellows Arms

The reason why I think these two are the same pub, or at least, the same property is that the O/S 2500 Plan 1964 shows number 2 (Odd Fellows Arms number) St. Peter’s Street to be on the north corner of St. Peter's and Freeschool Streets. The opposite corner on all three O/S plans shows normal terraced dwellings whilst the north corner has a distinct and relatively large building with a good-sized yard.

In view of the horse in the name I feel the boat referred to here, like the Boat in Cotton End, is also a narrow boat. Perhaps Mr. James Jeffery once worked on the Navigation?

The Bodega Vaults

Refer to the entry for: The George Hotel

The Bold Dragoon(48 High Street, Weston Favell)

The Bold Dragoon A Dragoon is a soldier, the word being a corruption of the word dragon - a name given to their fire breathing carbines - a kind of short musket.

The present building was constructed in the 1930s to replace another of the same name nearby. Originally a village pub it has, over the years, become swallowed up in housing and incorporated into the borough. This incorporation is probably why there is such a long gap in the directory entries. The earliest I have is in 1862, under beer-retailers, a Henry Clark of Weston Favell. As I know the names of the landlords of the other two pubs in the village (Horseshoe and Trumpet) at this time it is a fair guess that this beer house later became the Bold Dragoon. The only other 19th century entry from Wright 1884 is for a Henry Knight, farmer & bhs.

The Boot


Boots are usually attributed to St. Crispin, however, it seems that ten pubs in the past (I don’t know which – or if they are still trading) in the neighbouring counties of Bucks., Beds. and Hunts, all were named because of a common legend. A certain monk from Monks Risborough became the vicar of the village of North Marston near Winslow, Bucks and is supposed to have conjured the Devil into a boot. Sir* John Schorne Gentleman borne Conjured the Devil into a boot. (*Medieval courtesy for a vicar). John Schorne died in 1314. I don’t think that there is any doubt that our boots (pubs) refers to the once staple trade of the town.

The Boot Inn(Abbey Street)

There is only one entry for this pub under this name, in White 1896, Mrs. A. E. Bailey, 1 Abbey st. This address corresponds to the St. James W.M.C. site before redevelopment in the 70s. The pub, which seems to have been a beer-house, was there prior to 1896 and Mrs. Bailey must have been the widow of the previous proprietor as in those days as that was the only way a woman could get a licence. There is a J. Bailey, beer-retailer, listed in St. James’ End in 1870 and 1871 and a John Bailey at Park Road, St. James in 1885. The present Park Road is nowhere near to Abbey Street. The Castle pub now stands in Park Road and is now the only address - a Walter Collins had the Castle in 1884.

The Boot Inn(12 College Street)

The Boot Inn This could be an ancient pub. There was a Boot in College Lane in the 16th and 17th century, which was, no doubt, rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1675. It is interesting that when I was working as an archaeologist for Northampton Development Corporation we rescued a hoard of medieval leather, preserved in the waterlogged silt at the bottom of the old Anglo-Danish town ditch. The leather evidently came from a shoemaker’s workshop, as some of it was off-cuts. It was probably thrown into the ditch that stood open long after the Norman town had been built. This leather and old shoes was found only a short distance from where the Boot stood. If the Boot Inn went back far enough – to the 11th or 12th century, it would also be “in the ditch” as, so it seems, the medieval leatherworker’s shop was. So who knows, perhaps this inn was named after the medieval shoemakers of Northampton? It stood in College Street, close to the end of Jeyes Jitty (NOT Jetty!).

Mr. Pryor was the last landlord and informed the Chronicle & Echo in 1952 that he had taken over the tenancy in 1905 from a Mr. Farey, who had emigrated to Canada. Mr. Pryor said that the licensee before Mr. Farey had been Mr. Topper Roddis. Mr. Roddis always wore a silk topper.

Back of a Boot
The Boot Inn closed on April 11th 1907 and the licence along with three others were surrendered to obtain a licence for the new Clinton Arms in Far Cotton. Mr. Pryor became the first landlord of the Clinton Arms when it opened one week later on April 18th. This photograph was taken in January 2000 just before the building was demolished.

The Boot and Shoe

Refer to the entry for: The Belvedere

The Boot and Slipper(10 Spring Lane)

The Boot and Slipper probably started out as a genuine trade sign of a shoemaker or cobbler, or because of the local employment. I believe this pub stood on the west corner of Spring Lane and Compton Street. It first appears in the directories in 1858 under this name, not appearing earlier as a beer shop. I have been able to trace it as a beer-retailer up to 1907, then there is a gap, but the address appears again briefly in 1928-29, so it could have been going all that time.

The Boothville

Refer to the entry for: The Lumbertubs

The Bouverie Arms(1 Raglan Street)

This pub was on the west corner of Raglan Street and the Wellingborough Road and is clearly shown as PH on O/S 2500 Plan 1964. It disappeared when the Wellingborough Road was widened in the 1960s.

The Brewers Arms

Refer to the entry for: The Harbour Lights

The Brewers Arms(Cow Lane [Swan Street])

The first entry in a directory for this pub is in Burgess 1845 where it is listed under Beer-Sellers, so no doubt this was another small beer-shop. References are sparse and only one other directory, Hickmans 1847 gives it the name. Pigot 1824 has: Shaw, John, Gold st., Maltster. Possibly a relative of the only name connected with the pub, i.e. Thomas Shaw. Kelly 1847 has: - Shaw, Thomas, Agent for London & North Western Railway Co. & sole agent for the delivery of parcels. Angel Hotel, Bridge street. Slater 1850 lists him as a beer-retailer as does Kelly 1854, after this he and the address disappear.

The Bricklayers Arms(46 Kerr Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Silver Cornet

We have had two of these occupation arms and no doubt in both cases the proprietors were originally bricklayers who had retired to the more gentle trade of landlord, or who carried on two trades at the same time.

The Bricklayers Arms(36 St Marys Street)

If the numbering on the O/S 2500 Plan 1964 is the same as in the 19th century, then this could have been the large property with a side entrance just east and opposite the end of Pike Lane. There is another, more substantial building to the west.

The Brickmakers Arms(59 Broad Lane [now Street])

A pub name with similar origins to the above. In 1847 Robert Butcher was at the Plumbers Arms in Sheep Street, by 1849 he was in Broad Lane. Taylor 1858 is the only entry with the name Brickmakers Arms and in 1864 and 1866 Mrs. Ann Butcher, probably his widow, is listed here. No more of it heard of until the street lists of 1884 when the address is described as a Marine Stores - i.e. junk shop.

Briggs Punch House

Refer to the entry for: The Criterion

Britannia

Britannia This symbol of Britain has been used four times in Northampton that I've discovered; two of them are still flourishing.

Britannia is well known to all that remember our older currency. She used to appear on notes and the 50p piece and older readers will remember her image on the old penny and the even older halfpenny and farthing which both bore her image before the ship and wren. She first appeared on our coins in 1672 when Charles II struck the copper halfpenny and farthing. The pose, sitting with shield beside her and trident raised is very similar to an image of Pietas or Piety on some coins of Hadrian who ruled between 117 and 138 CE. This image in turn is supposed to have been taken from coinage struck by Lysimachus, King of Thrace from 323 to 281 BCE, which showed Athene in a similar pose. So our Britannia has come a long way!

The Britannia(51 Hopes Place, Barrack Road)

This pub lies on the east side of the Barrack Road, north of the site of the town’s north gate. The earliest reference is 1858, but considering its position it could have been there much longer. As things got a bit calmer in the late medieval period people began to build suburbs outside town gates. The importance of the north-south route through this town would have guaranteed that many of these houses would have been inns, so there could have been a hostelry of some description around here for ages. Its neighbour, the Gardeners Arms goes back to 1845, this establishment became absorbed into the Britannia in the 1940s - probably after the end of the war, when the Britannia was completely rebuilt and enlarged. [Another pub that’s now changed its name to something irrelevant (2010)].

The Britannia(Bedford Road [Rush Mills])

Also: The Compass

Also possibly: The Papermakers Arms

This one is also with us. According to an article in the Chronicle & Echo 25th November 1994 this started life as the Compass Inn in 1827. The compass is probably magnetic, rather than a pair of. One pair of compasses indicates Masonry, two Joiners and three, Carpenters. It can be the contraction of the word Compassion, a Hospice name. This pub served the river traffic in the past – as it still does, but leisure today rather than commercial.

The earliest I have for the Britannia is 1876 and we also have once listed in 1847 at Cotton End, Hardingstone - the Papermakers Arms. As country places, especially isolated ones like the Britannia, were described by the road they were on or the parish they were in Hardingstone is a fair description of the pub’s location. The mill opposite was at one time a papermill, so it is possible that between 1827 and 1876 the pub was called the Papermakers Arms.

The Britannia(Ladys Lane, 1 Victoria Street)

Also: The Victoria

I can trace William Sykes as a beer-retailer back to 1858 and the sign first appears in the directories in 1864. Kelly 1940 gives this address as a pub called the Victoria, this is the same pub as the proprietor’s name, William Cox carries over the name-change.

The Britannia(1 Lower Harding Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Earl Spencers Arms

British Banner

British Banner 1 British Banner 2 A good patriotic sign! We’ve had two that I know of. This sign may date from the formation of the United Kingdom on January 1st 1801 with the union of Great Britain and Ireland, or from the Act of Union of 1707 when England and Scotland were united as the Kingdom of Great Britain.


The British Banner(Grafton Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Twenty Fives

The British Banner(15 Market Square)

This must have been quite a famous pub in its time. It stood at the east end, on the south corner of Osborn's Jitty, just on the Market Square. In medieval times this jitty was known as Fleshmonger Lane, leading to where the meat was sold.

The earliest record I have is 1858 when a William Warren was the proprietor. The next is in 1864 when a Mark Warner had it. Mark Warner is recorded as having the General Tom Thumb in 1858 and it is sometime between then and 1864 when he moved to the British Banner and founded a dynasty. A Warner held this pub thereon until the end when the licence was refused in February 1911. First Mark, then an A. M. Warner who seems to have been called by his middle name, Mark; and finally a Louis Warner, brother of A. M. Warner. I believe A. M. and Louis were Mark One's sons.

According to an article in the Northampton Independent, March 19th 1910 Mr. A. M. Warner was fond of collecting and displaying, curiosities.

It is not generally known, writes an ‘Independent’ representative, that there is in the bar of ‘The British Banner’ one of the most bizarre and gruesome collections of curiosities possessed by any publican.

The article goes on to list many of these including wooden legs, a giant clay pipe, relics of the Boer War such as cartridge belts and shells, horse pistols and rusty revolvers. A human skull, handcuffs and daggers were included, but one of the most interesting were a number of small black bread loaves hung on strings from the ceiling. These, it appears, were given to prisoners on their release from Northampton Gaol to sustain them in their new life, whereupon they would retire to the British Banner and Mr. A. M. Warner would exchange them for beer - which I am sure they felt a greater need for. Various artefacts were displayed on strings from the ceiling or on shelves behind the bar which included jars of freaks such as a pig with two bodies and a giant newt, on a high shelf were a number of, waxen effigies with criminal countenances and distorted visages. An obituary of Mr. A. M. Warner is in the same edition of the Independent and says that the present licensee was Louis. The last directories to have entries for this pub are Bennett and Kelly both 1910.

The Broadmead(61 Broadmead Avenue)

This pub, which is still with us, no doubt got its name from the avenue. It was built in the late 1920s - although the earliest entry I have found for it is 1936. It is a purpose-built estate pub.

The Broad Street Tavern(49 and 51 Broad Street)

There are only two records of this pub, 1936 and 1940 and in both cases Henry Bonham is quoted as the proprietor. It was about halfway up Broad Street on the west side.

The Brunswick Arms(75 Market Street, 2 Brunswick Street)

In the past the use of the name Brunswick has indicated allegiance to the Crown rather than to the Jacobites and many pubs in the country have carried it. The Methodists were suspected of having Jacobite sympathies and often titled themselves Brunswick Methodists so that there could be no misunderstanding. Another, more probable, possibility is the Duke of Brunswick who entered British Service and fought in the Peninsular War (1808) and was killed at Waterloo in 1851. The latter idea is nearer to the time of the pubs opening. Although Laws 1847 map shows Market Street it does not show Brunswick Street, this appears on Birdsalls 1878 map, complete with shaded areas where the pub stood (NW corner). The earliest entry seems to be 1858 so the pub is probably contemporaneous, with the construction of Brunswick Street.

The Builders Arms(Kerr Street)

Refer to the entry for: The Bricklayers Arms

Bull

Bulla Seal This sign is not as straightforward as it would at first seem. All the signboards I have seen, including the one on Regents Square, have shown a bull, the beast. However, the sign is very ancient and of religious origin. One possible religious meaning could be that it is the emblem of St. Luke, but there is a far more interesting one. The Latin for seal is bulla often shortened to bull as in Papal Bull. When the Monasteries began to set up their hospitals, they like everyone else put up a sign and this was often the seal of their Order - hence Bull.

A pilgrim in medieval times visiting Northampton and seeking accommodation might be directed by a local to, The sign of the Bull. If any of these seal/bulls still were up at the time of the Reformation I’m sure they were quickly converted into the beast. A rhyme from an inn at Buckland, Kent:

The Bull is tame so fear him not,
All the while you pay your shot,
When money’s gone, and credit’s bad,
It’s that which (makes) the Bull run mad.


The Bull(George Row)

The Bull, George Row is listed in the Assembly Order 1585 as one of the Ancient Inns. It stood next door but one to the famous George and must have been a precursor of the Coach & Horses, but whether these two were continuous I do not know. It seems that some sort of religious assemblies called classis were held by the Puritans in the 16th century and one of these was held at the Bull according to a document of July 1590. They were a board of Puritan clergy that sought to usurp the authority of the bishops. They were stamped out by the Queen and Archbishop in 1590, but revived for a while during the Commonwealth. The Bull crops up again in the Great Court Book 1676, so I assume it was re-built after the Great Fire.

The Bull(Regent Square)

The Bull This Bull stood on the east side of the site of the North Gate of the Medieval Town. Most of it is under the road now, but part of the site is occupied by a Health Centre. Campbell Street used to be called Bull Lane, a clue to how long this establishment had been there. The inn could have been early medieval and perhaps the oldest sign in town. The building I recall was certainly not the original, but the site and sign could have been. The reasoning behind this is that directly opposite the inn, between Grafton and St. George’s Streets lay, in days gone by, St. Andrew’s Priory - one of the largest in the land. It is reasonable to suppose that they would not pass up such an opportunity, and would build a hostelry beside the town gate and adjacent to their Priory.

Le Bulle(Swinwel-Strete [Derngate])

A rental of 1504 mentions many properties around the town including some land near a postern (small gate) called Derngate one of these is called le Bulle.

The Bull and Butcher(94 Bridge Street)

Also: The Sun & Raven

Also: The Sun

Also: The Kings Arms

There was a Sun in Bridge Street as early as 1720 and the Sun & Raven could be an amalgamation of two adjacent inns. According to The Local February 1982 it was called the Sun in 1730 and by 1780 it was the King's Arms, changing to the Bull & Butcher in 1830. The earliest directory that refers to it is Pigots 1824 and that already calls it the Bull & Butcher. One story I was told for the origin of its name was the Cattle Market nearby with its attendant slaughterhouse. This can’t be right as the Cattle Market didn't appear until 1873, so the reason given in the Real Ale Guide published by Northampton branch of CAMRA in 1983 is probably right: - King's Arms before taking its present name from a butchers shop which used to stand next door.

This would have been one of the prime sites for an inn in the past, being just inside the South Gate and on the main road. There are deeds for this property going back as far as 1720 and advertisements in the Northampton Mercury 1731. The whole establishment was re-built and extended in 1912. It later bore the name O'Dwyers for no apparent reason.

The Bull and Butcher(56 Horsemarket)

Taylor 1864 has under the sign Bull & Butcher the name, Thomas Clayson and Kelly of the same year lists Thomas Clayson, Horsemarket as a beer-retailer, this is all I can discover about this pub. Roberts 1884 street list gives 56 H. Law, Mkt. Gdnr.

The Bull and Goat(Gold Street)

A reference I have to this establishment is from NN&Q Vol. III 1889 where the author refers to an advertisement dated 1725: - William Atley, who kept the Tap at the Peacock Inn upon Market-hill in Northampton, now keeps The Bull and Goat in Gold street.

This pub is probably the Goat, listed in the Universal British Directory 1791 and is shown on Laws Map 1847 and this is further indicated by an advertisement in the Mercury 1739

To Be LETT
And Enter’d upon at Midsummer next. THE BULL and GOAT INN, a very good and accustom’d House at the Upper End of Gold-street near the Market-place in Northampton: with, Stalls & Stabling convient. Enquire of Mr. John Shortgrove, Ironmonger, In Northampton: or of Mr. John Griffin, Silk-weaver, in Coventry.

It is quite usual for people to shorten the name of a pub, although the Goat is referred to in the RBN 1898 as a 16-17th. Century inn.

The Bulls Head(33 Sheep Street)

The BUlls Head Although we have had several pubs with Bull in their name, this is one of only two, and they are connected, as it seems an early landlord took the sign with him to St. James' End. The name is supposed to date from the time of King Henry VIII (1509 - 1547), the bull’s head being a badge of the monarch. There are indications that our Bull’s Head is of some considerable antiquity. There was until the development of the nearby shopping centre a Bull Head Lane running close to the site of the pub and in well established parts of towns this usually means that the pub gave its name to the thoroughfare.

The Northampton Mercury carried three advertisements in the 18th Century for this inn that I have seen. The first in 1736 announcing the move of one, Matthew Morris (see below), the second in May 1754, a notice of the carrier service from the Bull’s Head; and in November 1755, announcing the sale of an ass. In both the last cases the landlord is given as William Dodd.

Although the drawing doesn't show it, this inn must have been quite large internally and the Northampton Directory 1878-9 carried an advertisement for the Bull's Head announcing, Wines, Spirits, Ales & Stouts of the finest quality along with, Coale's & Allen's Sparkling Ales and, A large Concert Hall open to the Public Free. Wright 1884 gives two landlords' names, one of them is in the Appendix, so there probably a change of ownership at this time, and both have the appellation v indicating, victualler. The pub was closed and compensated for in 1917.

The Bulls Head(St James End)

There is an advertisement from the Mercury that is self-explanatory:

MATTHEW MORRIS
Who lately kept the Bull’s Head in Sheep-street, Northampton, Now keeps the Bull’s Head in St. James’ End near that Town: where all Gentlemen, Travellers etc., may meet with good Entertainment and civil Usage, and Grass for all sorts of Cattle in several Pasture Grounds. From their Humble Servant, Matthew Morris.
Northampton Mercury 19th June 1736

The Bunch of Grapes(6 Crispin Street)

Bunch of Grapes Crispin Street is shown mostly demolished on O/S 1938 with only four or five houses left; it is, however, shown complete on the O/S 1901.

There are only two entries under the sign of the Bunch of Grapes, both in Taylors directories of 1858 (James Allard) and 1864 (John Curl). It seems fish and fruit also figured in these two gentlemen’s’ lives. It is possible that the pub received its name from the fruit business that was at one time also carried out at number 6. In 1858 J. Allard appears under the pubs name so we have no indication of any other trades he may have also carried on, on the premises. The next appearance of number 6 I have found is 1861, Curl, John & Co., beer-retailer, fishcurers, & fruitmerchants - so he could have continued the original business. This type of entry continues until 1867. There is also one entry from Kelly 1864 of J. Curl in Compton Street. This could be explained by the next entry for this name in 1878 at 31 Horsemarket as a beer-retailer, but this is jnr. and in 1896 there are two entries for J. Curl in Horsemarket, junior at 31 beer-retailing and senior at 33 as a fishmonger.

The pub probably ceased trading between 1867 and 1884 for the next reference to number 6 is Roberts 1884 street list, 6, James Allard, fishmonger. By 1890 the premises were occupied by a W. J. Blandwell, horseslaughterer and fishmonger.

The Burghley Arms

Refer to the entry for: The Bearward Arms

The Butt

Error for the Bull, Regent St. (Northampton Directory 1936).