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The Eagle(53 Oxford Street)

I have come across three Eagles in the town, but two of them; the Eagle Tavern, Bridge Street and the Eagle, Wellingborough Road are short name versions of the Eagle and Child and the Spread Eagle respectively. This is the only lone Eagle.

In the Middle Ages this sign denoted St. John the Evangelist. Heraldically it is associated with the Dukes of Hamilton and the Earls of Cambridge, but it such a common charge it could be associated with anything - or perhaps the first landlord, John Albright, simply liked eagles?

The first entry I have is from Slater 1862 where a John Albright is listed as a Retailer of Beer in Oxford Street. Taylor 1864 lists Albright under Beer Retailers, but also gives the sign. Wright 1884 gives the proprietor as Edward Burrell v. so it seems that the Eagle had risen in status from being a beer-shop to a place of victualling.

The building is shown on the O/S Plan 1964. Kelly 1940 gives Walter Morgan as a brewer of the beer retailed and there would have been plenty of space for such a venture, the pub was situated on the north-east corner of the Letts Road - Oxford Street junction. The area is now an industrial estate.

Eagle and Child

Eagle and Child The eagle and Child may seem an odd combination, but in fact, is derived from the arms of the Stanleys, Earls of Derby. The origins of this device are interesting and illustrate the value of a trusting wife - or maybe a very wise one.

An early Stanley, Sir Thomas Latham lived in the reign of Edward III (1327-77) and it seems he had an illegitimate child by a local woman. Sir Thomas arranged to have the child placed at the foot of a tree below an eagle's nest. He then took a walk with his wife and contrived to pass the tree, whereupon they discovered the baby. Sir Thomas then persuaded his good wife that they should adopt this miraculously found baby - hence the device.

We have had two Eagle and Childs in the town, but why either of them should carry the device of the Stanleys is unknown to me. One possibility is that the Stanleys had at one time a regiment of their own and these establishments were opened by veterans of the same.

The Eagle and Child(9 Bridge Street)

Also: The Eagle

This inn stood at the top of Bridge Street on the eastern side, just below the George Hotel, now Lloyd's Bank. It must have been there for a considerable time, there are few records, but an advertisement from the Northampton Mercury 1756 puts it back to that century:

RODE away with from John Taylor's at the Eagle & Child In the Bridge street, a Bay GELDING, full-aged, about Fourteen hands and a half high, with a Star on his forehead, Blind of the near Eye, & Hath both his Huckle-Bones rubb'd With carrying Port manteaus, etc.

I have information from a Mr. David Hall, who held the Saracen in Abington Street around 1860 and converted it into a Temperance Hotel (what a crime!) that the property was originally named the Sign of Absolem Hanging in the Oak - the sign of a barber. The inference is that if Mr. Hall had the knowledge of the site’s previous trade it was probably in the early part of the 18th century. Mr. Hall died in 1886 aged 81 so he was born in 1805, as we know the Eagle and Child was there in 1756 it is possible that a parent or grand-parent gave him this information. One other possibility is that the Eagle and Child moved at some time.

The Eagle and Child(St Giles Street)

This is one of the inns mentioned in the RBN 1898 for which I have been unable to discover any documents.

The Earl of Northampton Arms

Refer to the entry for: The Northampton Arms

The Earl of Pomfret

Refer to the entry for: The Pomfret Arms

The Earl Russell

Refer to the entry for: The Jolly Crispin

The Earl Spencers Arms (Inn)(1 Lower Harding Street, Crispin Street)

Also: The Britannia

Also: The Spencers Arms

This pub illustrates the care with which information from trade directories should be taken. There is one entry as the Britannia in 1858 and by 1864 it had become the Earl Spencer's Arms, it ceased as a pub on 6th January 1940.

Many publishers of directories simply kept the set type from one year to the next, altering the odd entry as needed and often not checking the information. Northants Hunts & Rutland Trade Directories for 1948-9 and 1951-2 must have been one of these as they included this pub. I have an article from the Northampton Independent June 7th 1946 that includes a photograph of the remains of the pub with children playing in the rubble. There is no way that anyone in June 1946 could have ordered a drink here, or five years later in 1951!

The East End Tavern(27 Melbourne Street)

Also: The New Inn

This pub stood about halfway down the street on the east side, according to the O/S 1:2500 1964 Edition Plan street numbering. Both names refer to it being part of Grundy's New Town. This was built between 1836 and the 1850s, so its first name, New Inn is appropriate and as the New Town was originally up the Wellingborough Road on its own in the fields so the East End Tavern is also fitting.

The Eclipse(17 Grafton Street)

Eclipse Sign There are three possible meanings to this sign. There is, or was, an Eclipse in Tunbridge Wells named after a stagecoach that ran through that town, but it is unlikely that it also ran through here, but it is possible that there were more than one coach of that name. Both coach and pub could be called this for the same reason - that it implied that they eclipsed all other competition. Finally, the reason that I favour is that like the Beeswing in Todd's Lane nearby it could have been the name of a racehorse. The pub stood on the north-east corner of Fitzroy Terrace and Grafton Street.

The only proprietor's name we have associated with this pub is a William Johnson. I have found a George Johnson, Confectioner and Baker in Todd's Lane in 1854 who could have been William’s father. There is a Sarah A. Johnson at the Beeswing, St. Edmund’s Row in 1864 - are the two Beeswings linked in some way? Finally, there was a William Johnston(e) in Bridge Street retailing beer from 1845-1850.

The Elephant and Castle(Elephant Lane)

Elephant and Castle This is one of the RBN 1898 16th-17th century documents I have not seen. However there is a document dated 1757 in the NRO. Elephant Lane is the old name for Western Terrace, just south of the east end of West Bridge. It is shown as such on the O/S 1:2500 Plan 1901.

There are complex theories about circuses and the like to explain the name of this lane, but the most likely is that in the past there was a pub called the Elephant and Castle here and it gave its name to the thoroughfare.

Then, we have to explain the name of the pub! The usual theory is that it is the English attempt to pronounce the Infanta of Castile. This could be right, but an elephant and castle is also an item of table silverware. In days gone by a person’s status would be indicated by how close they had been sat to the Salt - this would have been a large silver container with the then valuable condiment in it. The further from it, the lower down the scale you rated. Salts were often made in the form of an elephant with a howdah, or castle on their backs. This was in imitation of the Indian chess-piece that we call the rook or castle. To call your establishment after such a prestigious piece of tableware indicated a classy inn! An elephant with a howdah was also the crest of the Cutler’s Company, on account of the ivory used for knife handles. The original owner could, therefore have been a cutler. The 1757 document is a will of a Joseph Daniel, which refers to:

and all that Messuage or tenement with the appurtances situate and being in the Parish of St. Peter in the said Town of Northampton known by the name or Sign of the Elephant and Castle and all that Close or parcell of meadow Ground Lying and being in the said parish of St. Peter within the said Town of Northampton near the West Bridge...

The Engineer(2 Portland Street)

This pub stood on the south-east corner of Portland Street and the Wellingborough Road. The earliest record I have of it is Taylor 1864, under Beer-Retailers. Wright 1884 gives bhs so it was a beer-shop. It must have closed between 1952 and early 1953 as the RAFA Club moved into the premises in March 1953. They moved out prior to the building’s demolition when the Wellingborough Road was widened in March 1960.

In the past Northampton had two pubs with this sign and as far as I know there are two explanations for the name. The Engineer in Rickard Street is probably named after the Railway Engineer (Engine-Driver), a job every right-minded boy when I was a lad aspired to, however, having come under the influence of the Eagle comic and Dan Dare, we all wanted to be space-men. The other pub, in Portland Street could have been opened by a retired engine driver, but just as equally he could have been a soldier in the Royal Engineers.

The Engineer(51 Rickard Street)

From the Wrights 1884 entry bhs we know that this was a beer-shop. From the directory entries it seems Widow Spokes remarried and became Mrs. Watts and it seems her son, Alfred, took over the license in circa 1953. 1906 E. Spokes, 1907 Mrs. Spokes, 1911 E. M. Spokes (proprietorix), 1927 E. M. Watts (propr.ess), 1928 Emily Maria Watts, 1952 Emily Maria Watts, 1954 Alfred William Watts. The pub's identity as a beer-shop is confirmed by an advertisement in the Northampton Mercury February 1868:

Apply to J. Willars, Lily of the Valley, St. Andrew's-Square, Northampton.

The pub stood on the south-east corner of Rickard Street and Letts Road. All this area is now an industrial estate.

The Evening Star(26 Upper Priory Street)

Wright describes this as a bhs and it has one earlier entry in the Northampton Directory 1878-9 under Beer-Retailers. It was on the south side of the street near the east end next to a factory. Kellys 1940 does not award it a * showing that at the time, it was not brewing its own beer, unlike many other pubs in the town.