Refer to the entry for: Molly Malones
This pub stood on the corner of Freeschool Street and Marefair. The earliest reference to this pub is in Wright 1884, who gave it a bhs. It closed in 1958, so I never drank in it, although the building continued for many years afterward as a shop, it was demolished in the 1980s.
I have mentioned elsewhere that Queen Elizabeth was a popular subject for inn signs. There are several contenders for the meaning of this sign, one being the sport of falconry, but the most likely, especially for the earlier ones, is the badge of Queen Bess - a falcon, argent, crowned or (a silver, or white falcon with a gold crown). This was a common sign in her day – and probably a lot easier to paint than a reasonable rendering of the Queen herself. A proclamation of 1563 invoked penalties for poorly painted portraits of Her Majesty (refer to the entry for: The Queens Head).
This is one of those from the RBN 1898 that I cannot find any documents for, but refer to the entry for: Le Fawkon .
Refer to the entry for: The Morris Man
Cornhill, Corn Row or Cornmonger's Row are all names for what is now called the Parade, the north side of the Market Square. A Rental of 1504, much quoted here, describes an inn:
Le Fawkon and an inn called Le Hart in the tenure of William Crawme, notary, were in Cornmonger's Row.
The Hart was probably on the site of the Corn Exchange (later the Exchange Cinema and then a Rock Café) and the Fawkon nearby. There is a Falcon recorded in Newland (see above). If this had been at the very bottom of Newland it could have been described as being on Cornmonger's Row.
Refer to the entry for: The Globe
Refer to the entry for: The Red Earl
This pub was situated on the north corner of Inkerman terrace where it joined Newland. It is clearly shown on the O/S 2500 1964 Plan titled B.H. ⇒ Beer House.
I was not sure whether the fireman referred to is one that extinguishes conflagrations, or accompanied the Engineer on the footplate of a steam locomotive, but Mr. Lynn Robinson recalls a sign depicting a fireman in heroic pose with a hose in full spate extinguishing some blaze - so in its later years it was the former. The Fire Station is nearby, but the pub goes back to at least 1858 whereas the Mounts Fire Station was built in the 1930s.
For a while in the 1960s I worked for the C. W. S. and was told this story. I think it happened sometime in the 1940s or 50s. It seems a fire started in the Co-op in Abington Street and the alarm was raised. Up at the Fire Station the engine was being cleaned and on the alarm being received the ladders etc. were speedily replaced and the engine sallied forth. The route to Abington Street in those days was down Newland (quite a hill) along the west side of the Market Square and left into Abington Street. As the engine reached the bottom of the Market the driver applied the brakes. In their haste no one had strapped the ladders on, so although the engine stopped, the ladders didn’t and continued in a southerly direction through the windows of Burton's, the Tailors opposite! It transpired that the fire had been quite a small one in a pile of coco-mats and had been dealt with by an employee with an extinguisher!
Although this pub survived until quite late into the 20th century, I have no recollection of it - probably because it was at the top of Newland, well away from my usual haunts. It is one of my regrets that I was not more catholic in my choice of pubs when I was younger, if I had have been I might have known whether the Fireman travelled on an engine or a locomotive.
I can think of two good reasons why one would call a pub the Fish. This pub goes back a long way, although the building doesn’t, if it did go back to before the Reformation it is possible that this is the Christian symbol of the Ichthys. It is a lot easier to paint a fish than the image of Christ.
According to an article in the Northampton Post 3rd December 1986 the pub dates from 1750, but I suspect it is actually much older. The pub appears in one of the oldest directories, that of 1824. The street it is in is called Fish Street and this is always a good indication of a pub’s antiquity, but this street could be named after its function - it could have in the past been the site of the fishmonger's stalls. Reginald Brown in his Guide to Northampton 1927 claims this is so, so possibly the pub got its name from a street. There is a third possibility, the landlord may have called his pub by this name in the hope that his customers would drink like a ...!
In 1986 Hampden Hosts, the owners, proposed to convert it into a 14-bed hotel. This was met with great opposition and somewhere along the line it became a typical Victorian hostelry with 12 beds. Lou Warwick got up a petition and secured 111 signatures and the owners got into trouble with the Council for starting work before permission had been given. Whilst all this was going on the landlord and lady, Colin and Tina Brownsell left (in Sept 1986) to take over the Gardener's Arms in Wellingborough Road. The pub reopened on the 5th of December of that year and despite people's misgivings proved to be quite tastefully converted. Lou is quoted as saying, I wish the venture well, but I sigh for the old Fish. In February of the next year the Council gave permission for the hotel part to be completed.
Although this establishment is called a Tavern this may be a bit of poetic licence as can be seen from the advertisement quoted below from the Northampton Mercury November 1863 (the only reference I have) it appears to be a fishmongers.
TO LET With possession at Christmas next.
THE FISHING BOAT TAVERN
A BEER-HOUSE, situate at 15 BARRACK-ROAD NORTHAMPTON, suitable for a Butcher, Fishmonger, or Grocer, fitted with Marble Slab for Shop Front, and a good Curing house, with Large Yard attached, and every necessity suitable for the Fish Curing Business on the Premises. The Furniture, with Horse and Cart, at the option of the incoming tenant.
Northampton has had three Five Bells, one is still with us albeit with a silly name, another one is known of through an advertisement and the third seems to have disappeared in the 1950s.
Three Bells and Eight Bells are common. However, five bells is a good time to call time and close the pub. It is just possible that it is a corruption of The Five Alls, a wry pub name that Northampton lacks. The sign usually depicts five men:
the first, a King, has written beneath him I rule all.
The second is a Cleric with I pray for all,
the third a Lawyer, I plead for all,
then a Soldier, I fight for all,
and lastly, a poor, downtrodden peasant, I PAY for all!
Considering Northampton's radical past I would have thought such a sign would have been popular, especially if the peasant had been changed to a shoemaker.
However, it is possible that the sign refers to bell-ringing. Many continental travellers of yesteryear commented on England's church bells and it seems that we have been putting peals of bells in our churches since the 10th century and from at least the 15th century we've been ringing them in some sort of order. The practice was stimulated by the Reformation, becoming especially associated with the Anglican Church. By the 17th century intricate formulas (changes) had been worked out. It started as a gentleman’s recreation practised by aristocrats and scholars, later, clerics and even labourers joined in. Women were not allowed. Participation was a mark of social status and so for an innkeeper to indicate on his signboard that he was part of this august company would imply high standards at his establishment.
I have traced this pub through the directories as far back as 1830 and no doubt it goes back a long way before then. It probably started as a coaching inn and acquired the appellation Old because it was old. Bryan Lucas, licensee in 1847, Respectfully acquainted the public that the Tea Gardens were now open. At the turn of the 19th century William Parberry was advertising Pleasure Gardens and we know quoits were played here at this time.
It seems that Quoits was a game that Northamptonshire was renowned for in the past and it was played in the gardens of most pubs that had one. The last pubs to host this game were the Five Bells and the Forge Hammer in St. James' End. In the 1960s the Nemo Poetry Group met in the back room and I, along with many others attended those meetings.
McManus Taverns acquired the Five Bells in 1993 and spent something in the region of half a million pounds on it. In October 1994 they announced its impending reopening in November and appealed for a new name, a traditional name for the new-look venue which is linked to Kingsthorpe. Garry McManus was quoted in the Chronicle & Echo, We want to localise it and a name connected with the area's history would be great. They called it the Frog & Fiddler!
To Be Lett. And Enter'd upon at Michaelmas next.
A Good and Well-Accustomed PUBLICK-HOUSE, known by the name of the OLD FIVE BELLS, adjoining to St. Sepulcher's Church-Yard in the Sheep Street in Northampton: with very good Stables, Brew-house, and other Out-Offices thereto belonging, all in very good Repair: It stands well for Business, being in the Middle of the Beast Fairs.
Enquire of Mr. Richards, Hosier, in the Drapery in Northampton aforesaid.
Northampton Mercury 1748
This pub was on the east side of the street close to the Friend's Meeting House. There appears to have been three beer-shops in Wellington Street in the 19th century - all traceable back to 1852, one of these probably became the Five Bells. Unfortunately as there are no street numbers in the earlier directories I cannot tell which is which. The 1852 names are, Julius Pearson, Sander Roberts and William Wilcox. The latter is also shown in Slater 1850 as being in this street, but listed as Plumber, Painter and Glazier. Mrs. Wilcox is listed in 1878 as a Beer-Retailer at number 56 that is probably where her husband carried on his trade as a Plumber and Beer-Retailer. Later years (1884) 56 was known as the Chequers and 35 as the Talbot.
We seem to have had two or three Fleeces in Northampton in the past. I say this because there is a 16-17th century record of a Golden Fleece in Bridge Street, however, this is probably the Fleece of later records, it’s name having become shortened as often happens.
The Golden Fleece comes from Greek mythology and was supposed to have been the hide of a fabulous ram and made of pure gold. It was more likely to have been filled with gold particles. Gold bearing ore is crushed and washed down a sluice lined with corduroy. The heavy gold gets caught in the cloth whilst the lighter silica is washed away. Every so often the corduroy is changed and the gold extracted. In ancient times sheepskin was used instead of corduroy.
The sign of the Fleece or Golden Fleece was always popular in towns where sheep and the wool trade were prominent like Northampton. It can also be the sign of a draper and the Golden Fleece, a ram hung up by a band around its middle is the badge of the Knightly Order of the Golden Fleece founded by the Duke of Burgundy in 1430. In Northampton I feel that both or three of our Fleeces were connected with sheep - there being several other inns on this theme, such as the Ram, Woolstapler's Arms etc.
This is another of those establishments listed in the RBN 1898 as being mentioned in 16-17th century documents which I have been unable to find. However, the NRO does have two documents mentioning a Fleece, one from 1700 and the other 1824, neither of these documents say where the inn(s) are located.
Another inn listed in the RBN 1898 that I couldn't locate the original, although it is almost certainly the Fleece of later years.
This inn was on the east side of Bridge Street about 20 yards north of the Malt Shovel. It must have been of some importance as there are plenty of advertisements in the Northampton Mercury, the earliest of which I have found dating from July 1720. That this inn was at times known as the Golden Fleece is certain as the Mercury announces the arrival of Joseph Williams at the Fleece:
Joseph Williams, who kept the Sun and lately the Sun and Raven, in the Bridge street in Northampton, now removed to the Fleece Inn in the said street. N. B. There is good Entertainment for Waggons, with the best of Stabling, and all other Conviences.
Northampton Mercury 1739
In October 1744 the paper informs us that Mr. Williams is moving from the Golden Fleece to the Old Goat Inn in Gold Street. The Fleece was not the top of the range when it came to inns as another advertisement for the inn to be let of 1747 describes it as, a Carriers' Inn ... next to the Meadowes which lead to the countrie.
The inn's age is unknown, but it could easily pre-date the Great Fire and would have probably been missed by it. By the 19th century and the advent of the railways, drovers and carriers were becoming scarce and the inn became a commercial hotel, serving both the Bridge Street and St. John's Street Stations.
There are two documents in the NRO that mentions a Fleur de Luce. In both cases the references are in connection with the White Hart (1579) and the Hind (1629). This is the same establishment located to the north of the Market Square so presumably the Fleur de Luce was somewhere around this area. As both documents are before the Great Fire it was probably destroyed and never re-built.
This is a corruption of Fleur-de-lys - iris flower or heraldic lily of the Royal arms of France. It became popular when the arms of France were quartered with those of England. However, there is another explanation, that it is the badge of the Prince of Wales which has a plume of what are believed to be ostrich feathers and in silhouette is about the same shape and became confused with the fleur de lys proper. So can this be another Prince of Wales pub that bore the badge as a sign and in the days of widespread illiteracy got called by the picture rather than the name? See Plume of Feathers for more. We have had two inns with this name, one of considerable antiquity.
Also: The Duke of Edinburgh
Also: The Royal George
This was called the Duke of Edinburgh, but called this in 1858, but only this one entry in Taylor, by 1864 it was briefly called the Royal George and then by 1884 it had acquired its last name. Refer also to the entry for: The Duke of Edinburgh
This pub used to stand at the top of the road behind the Police Box and Public Toilets. The area was redeveloped in 1982. Florence Nightingale was born in Florence in 1820, in 1854 she went to the Crimea to organise the nursing of the war wounded. She received the Order of Merit in 1907 and died in 1910.
The pub first appears as the Florence Nightingale in 1858, there is no sign of an unnamed beer-shop that I can find before this date. By 1858 she had been in the Crimea for four years and was already well known, so at the time this must have been a fitting name for a pub. Perhaps William Warwick, the first recorded proprietor, was a veteran of the Crimea and had seen this lady in action?
This establishment appears to have been directly behind the Princess Royal, which faces onto the Wellingborough Road and is number 176. I know little about this pub and it seems to have succumbed to the Second World War. I do not have much idea as to the meaning of the name - perhaps it is heraldic?
A picture from the Chronicle & Echo 1st December 1961 shows what is by then a private house. It lay at the back of Albion Place. It seems that in 1961 some local residents remember quoits being played here – but where? O/S Plans show that the two houses, numbers 19 and 21 on the 1964 Plan were on earlier Plans a single building and of some size. There doesn’t appear to ever have been a yard to speak of so was it played inside? I think the name is self explanatory - designed to raise a thirst!
Refer to the entry for: The Lord Palmerston
Also: The Swan and Helmet
Also possibly: The Gladstones Arms
Also: The Royal Hotel
This is a really confusing address. It appears that originally there was a hotel called the Swan & Helmet at this address; it first appears in the Universal Directory 1791 and is shown as number 67 on Laws map 1847. On the south side of Gold Street, a little way down was a group of properties numbered 23a, 23 and 25; the Swan & Helmet is given all these numbers by different directories. What I think happened is that there was originally an establishment called the Swan & Helmet that occupied all three sites. Taylor 1864 gives the Swan & Helmet the number 23a, and the only entry for the Gladstone's Arms as number 25, but it adds and Woolmonger Street to the address. So it seems to have gone right through the block and may have been a tap or vault. It continues as the Swan & Helmet until at least 1866. The Royal Hotel appears in 1869 at number 25 and continues until 1890, once being listed as at number 23a. In 1893 we get the first of two listings of the Foresters Hotel at number 26 - this, I feel, must be an error. The last entry is in 1900 and the number is 25 and it is now called the Foresters Arms. Well, I hope that's cleared that up!
This name probably refers to the Friendly Society of that name rather than the occupation. Friendly Societies often met in pubs and the landlord was often the treasurer.
This pub stood at the top of East Street on the west corner and no doubt was intended to serve the new estate. I can remember as a child seeing the steel cellar flaps in the pavement and being intrigued by the idea of a cellar forgotten under the pavement. The dates are 1864 to 1959.
Wright 1884 gives the address as 28 Oak Street which must be an error, unusual for him, as 28 Lawrence Street is at the Northwest corner of Lawrence and Pine Streets. The earliest entry for this beer-shop is 1864 and Laws Map 1847 shows only the first few houses built at the Barrack Road end. Slater 1862 mentions two beer-retailers in this street, at number 12 and the other unnumbered. No earlier directories list any for this street so I conclude that this street was largely built after this date and the pub probably opened in 1863 or 64.
The authors of RBN 1898 said it was in St. Giles' Street which means that they saw a different document than I have. This is an extract from the document I have seen:
Of inns we find the following mentioned, which have ceased to exist. The Greyhound in Gold Street; The Swan in the Drapery; The Talbot in The Square; The Adam & Eve; The Hynde; The Forge.
From the Book of Decree of the Court of Record
There was a Talbot in the Market Square as well as the Hynde, we have no location for the Adam & Eve, but from the context it would seem that both the Adam & Eve and the Forge could have been in the Square.
The addition of West End or St James' End to the address was to save confusion with Alma Street, Far Cotton (later Main Road). Both streets are undoubtedly named after the Battle of Alma in 1854. The pub's name is probably derived from the foundry that once stood on what is now part of the old bus depot. The pub was at the far end of the street, last house on the north-west side by Palmerston Terrace. Blocks of flats now occupy this whole area.
Refer to the entry for: The Sportsmans Arms
Refer to the entry for: The Volunteer
Refer to the entry for: The Foundrymens Arms
Also: The Iron Founders Arms (1858)
I have found two of these, one of which is still going in St. James' End, and is now called the Foundry Tavern. In both cases they were at one time in close proximity to a foundry.
Using the only O/S 2500 Plan with street numbers (1965) this pub should be at the bottom of Bridge Street, near the river on the east side. Its location is on the north corner of the junction of Cattle Market Road and Bridge Street, it is still standing with external brown glazed tiles (recently demolished, 2009). The Eagle foundry was by the river on the opposite side of the road.
Also: The Foundry Arms Tavern
This pub is still on the corner of St. James' Rd. and Stenson Street, once called Foundry Street and this name was still visible, painted on the brickwork of the house on the north-east corner in the 1990s. A foundry once stood on part of what is now the old bus depot.
Refer to the entry for: The Criterion
A document in NRO Dated 1632 has:
All the Messuage or Tenon afformentioned called or Knowne by ye syne of ye ffoxe formly being two tenn...
This is all I know of this place and it may have not been an inn, it was probably not rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1675.
A fox preaching to geese has been the subject of medieval misericord and pew end carvings and can be found on the oak panelling in Abington Park Museum. This work, circa 1500 shows a fox in a pulpit preaching to four geese; a lower panel shows the fox with a goose in its mouth. This is supposed to illustrate a European folk tale. Another possible origin is Aesop’s fables. However I favour the idea that it was originally the Fox and Geese, a board game played in the past similar in layout to Nine Men Morris. Like Nine Men Morris, a Fox & Geese board could be scratched anywhere and anything could be pressed into service as gaming pieces, it could indicate that this game was played at this establishment.
I shall quote from an unpublished manuscript, part of a series of articles on signboards that appeared in the NN&Q in the 1880s:
This Publick-House was situate in Bridge-street but on which side or end, and when opened or closed we cannot now say. All the information we have respecting it is in the three following advertisements. The Name of which we probably should have never heard of, had it not been for the defalcation of one George Oliver...
There follows three advertisements from the Northampton Mercury, the first warns that if George Oliver does not collect his Pad (an easy-paced horse) which he had left at the Black Lion it would be sold to defray expenses. This is dated April 1745 and going on the horse's description it was a pretty worn-out old nag. It seems he availed himself of a better horse for the Mercury March 3rd of the following year carried this:
WHEREAS George Oliver, on the 27th of December last, hired of Mr. William Clarke, at the Fox and Goose in Bridge-Street, Northampton, a grey Mare of the said Mr. Clarke’s to go to Yorkshire, and when he hired her he promised to bring back in a Month or five Weeks at the farthest, but has not brought or sent her back as yet: This is therefore to give Notice to the said Oliver, that unless he brings or sends the said Mare to the said Mr. Clarke in a Fortnight from the publication thereof, the said Mr. Clarke will con-clued the said Oliver has rode away with his Mare; and Mr. Clarke then proposes to put fresh Advertisement, with a particular Description of the said Oliver and of said Mare, with a Reward for apprehending and securing them or either of them.
An advertisement did appear, offering half a guinea reward, but not a fortnight later, but on January 4th and 11th of 1747, it doesn't seem that Mr. Clarke ever got his mare back.
The Fox & Hounds is probably an allusion to fox hunting. This pub is still with us. I understand that the pub was first licensed in 1863, but the earliest entry in the directories is 1884 when Wright recorded, George Brazier, Bricklayer and bhs. It is common, especially with rural pubs, as this was at the time, for the landlord to have another occupation.
Also: The Melbourne Gardens Tavern
Also: The Slipper
Franklin's Gardens were well known to children and adults of earlier years as a pleasure ground popular during weekends and Bank holidays. The Tavern was an integral part of the facilities, but as it faced the main road, it also functioned as a hotel.
The Gardens started life as the Melbourne Gardens in the 1860s, named after Lord Melbourne for much the same reasons as the Melbourne Arms. They were originally started by a Mr. John Collier and after his death were bought by John Campbell Franklin in 1886, who changed the name. Franklin brought in many improvements but after only two years sold it for £17,000. Even though he owned the Gardens for such a short time his name has stuck. The Jubilee Hall was built near the Hotel and in 1909 became a skating rink. This building later became the Salon-de-Danse, Cinderella-Rockerfella's, The Ritzy and Zone night-club - more recently it was painted in the Saints Rugby Club colours.
The Hotel itself was demolished and rebuilt in the 1930s, in the 1980s it was known as the Slipper and until recently was being used as a training centre by Ritzy's former owners, the Rank Corporation. The Saints owner, Keith Barwell bought both the Ritzy and the Hotel in 1998 and plans are being considered to reopen the Hotel as a bar and club shop. [It is now the Saints’ club shop (2009)].
This building is opposite the Central Museum and was built by John Campbell Franklin (of Franklin's Gardens fame) as a railway hotel mainly to service the passengers from St. John's Street Station at the bottom of the road. By all accounts it was popular not only with guests but the drinking public as well. It was constructed in the early 1870s and finally closed its doors in November 1954. There are two photographs of this hotel that both appeared in the Northampton Independent; one in 1928, when Mr. John Cory took over from the Misses Bird; and one when it closed in 1954. The closure was blamed on the lack of parking for the customers. A 1928 photograph shows one car outside the hotel, whilst a 1954 one shows cars nose to tail all along the road. Even fifty years ago the car was dictating the quality of our lives.
There is only one mention of this place, Burgess 1845, under Beer-Sellers, Jones Mayorhold - no first name or house number. As no other directories record its existence I conclude that it was not too successful.
This pub stood on the north-east corner of Arthur Street and Kingsthorpe Road, opposite the White Lion. First record in the directories is 1884 and the last in 1910, so it may have been a casualty of the First World War.
This was a corner beer-shop standing on the south corner of William Street and Bailiff Street - one corner up from the present Vocal Club.
Also: The Dairyman
Also: The Masons Arms
This pub started life as the Dairyman and its first, and only, reference under this name is in Taylor 1858. In the 17th century the sign of the Dairy Maid or Man, Milkmaid or similar was used by cheesemongers.
This area was built up in the 1850s, by 1864 it had changed its name to the Mason's Arms and it is possible that William Threadgold, the landlord at the time, was, or had been a stonemason. After 1878 it became the Freemasons' Arms and stayed thus up to 1936, it's last entry. It doesn't seem likely that a Lodge of Freemasons met here, as it was a small back street beer-shop, the Free was probably added to give a bit of class.
The pub was about halfway down the west side of the street and the O/S 2500 Plan 1965 shows a long extension down the garden. Bennett 1901 records that it boasted a bagatelle board, the long extension was probably a brewhouse.
Lot 1. ALL that MESSUAGE or Dwelling-House, used as a beer-house, and known as the Friar Tuck situate and being No. 39, Lady's-lane, in the town of NORTHAMPTON. Containing parlour, tap-room, scullery, two cellars, two rooms upstairs, used as a club-room, and two bedrooms, together with the warehouse, FRONT SHOP, and entrance to Mount-street, now in the occupation of Mr. Wm. Swann, at a yearly rent of £16.
Northampton Mercury March 1867
Scarletwell Street, or Lane, derives its name from the famous Scarlet Well that was at the bottom of this thoroughfare. The remains of the 1837 superstructure, which resembled an ancient Greek tomb, can still be found if you know where to look. This well was mentioned in a charter of 1239 and was of great importance to the town. The well had some sort of property of dying cloth scarlet. However, the word scarlet in medieval times did not always mean the colour, but a type of expensive cloth. Merchants came from all over England and even the Continent to avail themselves of its properties.
As to the origin of the pub's name I could speculate that it indicated a welcome, but I feel that it is more probable that it refers to a Friendly Society that was run from the premises, a normal thing in the past. It was a beer-shop and in the earlier directories (1858-1878) is listed under Beer-Retailers. The sign first appears in 1884 and the last entry is in 1936. The pub must have been on the north side of the street and was probably lost when the school expanded.