Pubs are quite often named after racehorses, but this one seems to have been named after any, or all, racehorses. The name may have some connection with the custom many years ago of racing horses, bulls and even donkeys (see Bantam Cock) from the Racecourse Crossroad (White Elephant Junction) to Abington Square.
The earliest entry is 1840, but it is probably much older - not, however in its present form. The drawing here of circa 1900 shows a three-storey building with a protruding ground floor, as today, but in 1900 the top two floors had three windows instead of four and a covered balcony of wrought iron sat on top of the ground floor extension. The front of the extension was also completely different. A clue to its age can be gained from the fact that it used to have a bowling green at the back; a visit to the garden today will make this evident.
George Chaloner took this pub in 1852 as an advertisement in the Northampton Mercury 17th January of that year states, it goes on to tell that the stables have been repaired and that George is continuing with his plumbing, glazing and painting business.
The drastic changes took place during the Second World War and because of shortages it took many months to complete the work. Interior alterations were decorated in what was then a rather dated mock-Tudor style. An advertisement from the Northampton Independent 18th July1941 has; MR. AND MRS. EVANS wish to Thank all Friends and Customers for their patronage during the last two years of re-building. The BAR and SMOKE-ROOM IS NOW OPEN, and the Large Lounge is temporarily Closed for Refurnishing.
On his retirement in 1960 the Northampton Borough Licensing Justices congratulated Thomas Evans for 33½ years as licensee of the Racehorse. He took over from his brother-in-law in 1927 in he 1960 passed it over to his son-in-law and daughter, Stan and Mollie Malin.
This pub is still there and along with its near neighbour, the Pomfret Arms, makes an interesting pair. The Pomfret Arms was evidently a Carriers pub and probably the oldest. This one, as the name implies catered to the railway. In the 1890s the present door was a window and the large double doors of the 1890s are now a window. Unfortunately in the last few years the ground floor wooden sashes have been replaced by characterless ghastly plastic frames.
On the upside it does appear to be a straightforward down-to-earth pub. David Keenan, the owner said to the Chronicle & Echo 12th June 1995, We run a simple pub here. It's an ordinary pub for working people and it has not changed at all over the past 40 years. The earliest reference I have for it is 1870.
With the arrival of the railway a new sort of pub sprang up. These were often referred to as hotels, and in many cases this is what they were. Unlike the coaching inn they did not need large numbers of stables and could concentrate on accommodating people. They were often very close to stations, convenient for passengers and railway staff.
Black Lion Terrace no longer exists. It only consisted of three houses at right angles to Chalk Lane and faced the Old Black Lion. It ceased to be a pub in the 1950s and I can remember it being a bed-and-breakfast place in the early 1960s when I worked on the Castle Excavations. The earliest record of the pub is 1858 and must have been named for the original small railway halt that was here before the construction of the much larger Castle Station in the 1860s.
The Star & Railway Inn, Weston Terrace, is often confused with this pub, but appears to have started life as the Star in 1845, changing its name to cash in on the new trade.
On Speeds Map 1610 Sheep Street is called sheepe market so it would be reasonable to have an inn of this name here. RBN 1898 lists a Ram in Sheep-market, which, no doubt, is the same inn. A document dated 1758 in the NRO has:
And out of all that other Messuage or Inn with the appertances situate standing and being in the Parish of Saint Sepulchre in the said town of Northampton called or known by the name or Sign of the Ram now in the Tenure or Occupation of Thomas Gamble Thos: Peach together with the Stable and Garden in Bearward street and little Close of Pasture lying near the Mayorhold belong to the said last mentioned Inn called the Ram...
It goes on to describe the Cross Keys so there can be little doubt as to its location. It is almost certainly pre Great Fire but I not found any references to it in the Great Fire Court 1675 Proceedings. However, the pamphlet, A True & Faithful Relationship of the Late Dreadful Fire at Northampton 1675 has: - Burned in Ship (Sheep) street as far as the Rose and Crown and somewhat beyond. The exact location of the Rose & Crown is not known, but it is possible that the fire did not reach the Ram and so it would not have been subject to the Fire Court.
The wool trade was of great importance to the town in the past and the Ram heraldically is the Crest of the Clothworkers Drapers and Leatherworkers Companies - plenty of good reasons to use this sign. It must have been of some importance in the 18th century, as it got included in the Universal Directory of 1791. In the past it hosted Masonic Lodges and during the days when the Racecourse was a racecourse, champion jockeys and their mounts.
In my youth I would drink here with my pals on our Saturday night pub-crawl. The bar was equipped with a Shove-Halfpenny board, Dominoes and a unique game to me, which I think was called by the regulars Bar-Skittles and is also called Devil Amongst the Tailors. I understand the game originated in London in the 18th century. There were nine small skittles, about three inches high standing on a platform about fifteen inches square. Fixed to one corner was a post perhaps three feet high and hanging from this, on a chain was a wooden ball, the ball hung clear of the platform by an inch or so. The aim of the game was to swing the ball around the post and across the platform knocking down the skittles. It looked deceptively easy and a rather ‘tame’ game to us, but I tried it a couple of times and learnt better!
Refer to the entry for: The Belvedere
If the street numbers on O/S 1964 were the same for the 19th century this pub would have been on the south corner of Elm Street and Bailiff Street. It doesn't seem to have been very long-lived, probably a small beer-shop.
There have been two, or possibly three of these in the town. Milk vendors in days gone by would announce that the milk they were selling was from a red cow. Red cows were rarer than black ones and so the milk was preferred, it was often recommended in old prescriptions. I imagine the idea was to imply that the milk sold in this pub was preferable to that sold elsewhere.
We only have an advertisement from the Northampton Mercury 23rd September 1734 to tell us of this pub's existence:
Whereas on JOHN STANLEY (a thin middle-sized Man, full shoulder'd and goes stooping of a red Complexion, full lipp'd, suppos'd to be between 50 and 60 Years of Age, had on a green Shag Frock, and goes under the Denomination of the King's Rat-catcher hir'd a Roan gelding (about 14 hands, full aged, with a whisk Tail if not alter'd, and cuts of all Fours) of JOHN MASON at the Red Cow in Horse-Market, Northampton on Tuesday the 10th of this Instant, proposing to return by the 15th Instant, but has not since been heard of: Whoever therefore will secure the said Man & Horse, and give Notice thereof to John Mason at the Red Cow aforesaid, shall have a good Reward and reasonable Charges allowed.
Another of those pubs listed in the RBN 1898 that I have been unable to trace - it is possible that this is the Red Cow, Horsemarket above.
Also: The Firefly
Also: The Dallington Brook
This pub stood on the corner of Aberdare Road and Camrose Road on the Spencer Estate; the location could be the reason for its name, the Red Earl being John Poynts, 5th Earl Spencer. He was one of the leading Liberal figures during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His nickname comes not from the colour of his politics, but from his huge red beard.
The pub opened in January 1956 as a purpose-built estate pub catering for children with what was called a large unlicensed garden room - parents, however, could purchase drinks elsewhere and take them in. The pub was furnished in a contemporary style and had a large car park. During its chequered career it changed name to the Firefly probably after the dinghy designed by Uffa Fox. Its popularity seems to have declined over the years and was demolished in August 1997 after standing derelict for many months.
This could have been named after some locally celebrated racehorse - perhaps it won someone enough money to set up a pub. Pedro of Castille, Father-in-law of John of Gaunt had a red, or roan, horse as his badge (see the entry for The Red Lion). The one record of this pub is a news item from the Northampton Mercury July 22nd 1751:
On Sunday Morning last one Smith, a Blacksmith, who lodged at the Red-Horse in Bridge-Street in this Town, robb'd his Bedfellows of 18s and his Cloaths, leaving his own in the Room but being persued, was taken at Newport-Pagnell, and committed to Aylesbury Gaol, from whence he will be removed to take his Trial at our approaching Assizes.
Also: The Red Rover
Still with us, but since 1996 has been called Big Hand Mo's. It is at the time of writing (June 1999) undergoing refurbishment. It may have received the name because it is built of red bricks, there once having been brickworks nearby. It could have changed to the Red Rover after James Fenimore Cooper's novel of that name in June 1967 when the owners, Phipps Brewery redecorated it, and at the time owned a famous stagecoach called the Red Rover.
The earliest reference under this name is in 1900, when the address is given as Gregory terr. But there is one reference under Beer-Retailers in 1889 to a George Starmer of Weedon Road, St. James End - could this be the same premises and a relative of the M. A. Starmer named as the proprietor in 1900?
Reputedly the most common sign today, although if it is, it is run a close second by the Crown. In this town there have been two Red Lions to five Crowns. In reply to a query in a national newspaper recently it was stated that there were 630 Red Lions out of 55,000 pubs in the country.
The origins of this sign probably lie with the badge of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of Edward III. John of Gaunt lived from 1340 to 1399 and the Red Lion began to appear as a pub sign about a century later. When James VI of Scotland became James I of England (1603) he ordered the Red Lion of Scotland to be displayed on all public buildings and this must have added to its popularity.
Although there are only two of these they do cause some confusion. It is evident that both establishments were large and popular; there are references throughout the 18th century to the Red Lion in Northampton in the Northampton Mercury. By comparison to today the town was relatively small so it was often that street names were not used, so I have no way of knowing which Red Lion is being referred to. However, the Red Lion, Horsemarket was at one time referred to as one of the three principle inns - the others being the Peacock and the George, so it is probable that most of the advertisements etc. refer to this inn. This is borne out by the fact that the Red Lion, Bearward Street is only listed in one directory, Pigots 1824, Hy. Bray. According to the Chronicle & Echo in 1959 this inn stood on the present site of the Covered Market. This indicates that the southern cellar of the double cellars of the Bear could have been the Red Lion's. I visited the Bear's cellars in the 1980s and the landlord thought that the pub had originally been two side-by-side, although this is not the site of the Covered Market it is close enough, however, in the past not only pubs had big cellars.
The Red Lyon, Sheep Street, is undoubtedly the same inn as is clearly labelled such on Nobel & Butlins Map 1747, occupying the site of the east end of the Covered Market. During the Great Election of 1768 this inn was the headquarters of the Tories, whilst the Whigs were ensconced in the George. Opposing parties at each end of the Drapery - a formula for trouble - see the entry for The George for an account of what happened!
Also: The Unicorn
That this inn was old is not in dispute, see the previous entry and the bulk of the references in the Northampton Mercury are probably to this establishment. Thanks to Mr. Taylor's research in the 19th century I can reproduce a quote from James Hissey's A Tour in a Phaeton Through the Eastern Counties 1889:
Had we according to our wont taken a tour of inspection, I have little doubt but that we should have elected to spend the night beneath the sign of the Red Lion. A most comfortable-looking and charmingly picturesque old half-timbered hostelry this, a picture in itself more pleasing than many a painting, with its carved wood front, its projecting upper storey and its grand red tiled roof. Upon the spandrel on one side of the spacious doorway of this delightful old-world hostel is a sculptured representation of St. George with time-honoured lance, on the other the famous dragon is given (could we have a once named George & Dragon Inn here?). We were told that this ancient house was built in the year 1412 and a grand old inn it is – you might travel far before coming upon such another, let us hope that it will long be spared to us.
Further information from James Hissey's book one could conclude that the Red Lion was a Tory stronghold and in view of the knowledge we have from the occurrences during the Great Election of 1768 (see the George) this item could refer to the Red Lion, Bearward Street. In the Good Old Days you had to own property to vote and therefore a reasonable income and what you drank indicated which party you supported. The Tories drank port, whilst the Whigs drank punch, could this be why there was an inn around the corner in Marefair called the Rose & Punchbowl? Entries run from 1824 to 1958.
Refer to the entry for: The Red House
Only one entry, Taylors 1864, this could be a transient name for one of the many small beer-shops with patriotic names in the area of the Barracks at the time.
This sign probably does not refer to the Union Flag (Union Jack), but to an old sea song. Another sign, which we have not had here, is the sign of the Three Admirals and here we have a clue. The three active Admirals of the Fleet are called the Red, White and Blue. In a town so far from the sea one would not expect signs with naval connections, but we have a share of them, usually ships such as the Albion. This could just be patriotic fervour or, did the Barracks house Marines at one time?
Refer to the entry for: The Marquis of Carabas
This pub is either named after the butts used when shooting game birds or a nearby rifle range. References start in 1884 and the pub is still with us.
According to the RBN 1898 there was in the 16th or 17th centuries an inn called the Drums in Drum Lane and this is probably the same pub. The plans of the Great Election 1768 show a Wm. Billingham Vict. occupying this position, he was probably the proprietor. This pub is still with us and is probably the last of the really small pubs, having only one small bar.
This pub was on the north corner of Lawrence Street and Bailiff Street. On O/S Plans 1901 and 1938 the site is shown as two houses, but by O/S 1964 it is a double property, so presumably the establishment flourished from a small beer-shop to a street corner pub. Dates from 1864 to 1956.
We have had two pubs with this name as well as a Rifle Butt, Rifle Drum and a Rifle, although the latter may have referred to a clicker's sharpening stick.
One entry, Taylor 1864, George Fullard. Perhaps George was a retired soldier, although this pub was in Bridge Street I can find no other references to it. Number 173 is quoted as the address of the Magpie in other directories, but in Kelly 1864 the number given is 154 and the proprietor as George Baldwin, so these are not the same premises.
This pub stood opposite the Broad Street Tavern, they don't seem to have been open at the same times. Dates 1858 to 1910.
A popular sign, there have been three in the town. The Rising Sun is a badge of Edward III, it forms part of the arms of Ireland - but in these cases it was probably used because it is the crest of the Distillers Company, which is a bit ambitious for pubs with a beer only licenses. It could have been chosen as an optimistic symbol of a new beginning - a new enterprise.
Also: The Sun
This pub was on the southern corner of the junction of Court Road and Gas Street, opposite the Harbour Lights. O/S Plan 1901 shows the building, but O/S 1938 does not. Directory dates run from 1845 to 1907 and from 1884 it is listed as the Sun. In 1861 there was a sale of the pub and brewhouse, retail trade had been carried on for last 25 years and the business up to the present was in the occupation of Mrs. Sarah Bull. The two entries up to this date, 1845 and 1858 both give a James Bull as the proprietor, was Sarah his widow? Information supplied by Mr. Starmer.
Part of the Linnell Estate auctioned off in 1847, probably on the corner of Kingswell and Woolmonger Streets. Refer to the entry for The Dolphin for further details.
Refer to the entry for: The Patriot
A typical street corner pub where people would go of an evening for a pint and a gossip. Dates from directories run from 1864 to 1910.
I have located two of these and I could have expected more. The rivetters referred to are of course not shipbuilders, but the boot and shoe workers who worked the new riveting machines in the factories.
An estate pub built in the late 1960s or early 1970s with a Moroccan theme; some aspects are still evident. Presumably named after the song.
This pub stood about halfway up Francis Street on the east side. From O/S 1938 it appears to have been an average terraced house. Dates run from 1858 to 1952.
Robin Hood crops up with two pubs, one of them originally called Robin Hood & Little John. A popular sign all over the country. I have no knowledge of a sign in the town bearing a rhyme, but many elsewhere do - this is one version:
Kind gentlemen and Yeomen good,
Come in and sup with Robin Hood,
If Robin Hood be a-gone,
Come in and drink with Little John.
Also: The Robin Hood and Little John
At one time I thought that there might be three pubs with this name as Slater 1850 gives two Robin Hoods and Little Johns, one in St. James End, run by a Charles Horne; and the other, in Dallington, by Elizabeth Edmonds. However, the two directories of 1847, Hickman and Kelly both give a Mrs. C. Edmonds as the proprietor, but list the address as St. James and Dallington respectively. You have to be careful with directories! Why Slater had two entries in 1850 is probably that that was the year of a change over and the original entry wasn't removed.
This pub stood just before the bend of St. James Road, after West Bridge, a little nearer town, but on the opposite side to the Green Man. The first entry in a directory is in 1830 when it is called the Robin Hood & Little John. By 1864 just Robin Hood is listed in one - and the last time Little John appears in a directory is in 1876. An old photograph shows a stucco sign with The Robin Hood Inn - P. Phipps & Co. Ltd.- Noted Ales & Stout. According to the etched windows and lantern over the door it boasted a Concert Room. It was demolished in 1976.
Also: The Stag
This pub was on the south side of Grafton Street more or less opposite the old Labour Exchange. In my day it was clad on the ground floor with green glazed ceramic tiles similar to the ones on the Old Black Lion today. I never saw this pub open as it closed in 1959.
The earliest map to show this area is Law 1847 when it was an orchard, by O/S 1901 a building with a side entrance is shown directly opposite a Court labelled in 1847 2nd and in 1901 as Kinburn Place. The general plan of this building does not alter until its demolition in the 1960s; the earliest entry was in 1878. However, an announcement on the Northampton Mercury January 1854 has:
TO BE SOLD BY PRIVATE CONTRACT
ALL that substantial and newly-erected PUBLIC-HOUSE, situate in GRAFTON STREET, NORTHAMPTON, and known by the sign of the STAG, containing three good cellars, bar, tap-room, bar-parlour, pantry, brewhouse, good well of water, with pump: large club-room, 50 feet by 20 feet, and 13 feet high: and five bed-rooms. There is an old-established BUSINESS attached to the House, of 20 years standing which is also TO BE DISPOSED OF, the present proprietor being about to leave the town. The STOCK and FIXTURES to be taken at valuation. - Two-thirds of the Purchase Money may remain on the Property, if required.
For further particulars, apply, to the Proprietor, Mr. W. Manning, at the Stag: or to Mr. E. F. Law Architect, Wood-street
By December of the same year the Stag was being offered for auction, now and for 20 years used as a Beer-House, known as The Stag. As to apply for the particulars is the same as above I conclude that was no result from the first advertisement. Is this, in fact an earlier incarnation of the Roebuck? A sign with a stag on it could easily be called a roebuck, or vice versa.
Also: The White Hart
One of several names that Shipman’s seems to have had.
Before Northampton was built up, when most of the land outside the old town walls and main roads was just fields and woods, a lane linked Kingsley to the village of Kingsthorpe, now called the Kingsley Road and Kingsthorpe Grove. In the past it has been known as Tinkers Lane or Gypsy Lane and was a popular site for Gypsy encampments, especially when there was racing and fairs on the nearby Racecourse.
A stream that issues on the old Northampton Golf Course and joins the north arm of the River Nenn at the top of St. Andrew's Road used to be crossed by a ford at about where the pub now stands. For many years this has been buried in pipes and this is why the Romany is built on a reinforced concrete raft supported by 35ft. concrete piles. The land hereabouts is built up.
The Romany Hotel was opened in November 1938. A purpose built establishment it was provided with a forecourt, for a considerable number of cars. The interior was in Tudor and Jacobean styles, rather better executed than was done in the Racehorse three years later. The three bars, Bar, Smoke Room and Lounge have gone, as have the fine wood veneer. The pub no longer provides accommodation for travelling salesmen etc., but real ale, food, music and other entertainment for University students from the nearby Avenue Campus.
One from the RBN 1898 16th-17th century list that is untraced. It is possible that it is the same inn as the Rose & Crown in the same street.
The symbol of the rose in early days represented the Virgin Mary, so it could have been pre-Reformation, perhaps converting to the Rose & Crown at that time. A golden rose was the badge of Edward I (1272-1307) and there is the red rose of Lancaster and the white of York as well as the Tudor rose - take your pick!
Alma Street changed to Rickard Street to avoid confusion with Alma Street, St. James End. This pub stood on the east corner of the junction of Rickard Street and Main Road. It is shown on O/S 1964 as a substantial corner property with a small yard to the rear. The area was cleared and turned into an industrial estate a few years ago. Entries are from 1864 to1968.
This is a very popular name and I have found five in the town. It is supposed to have come from the Wars of the Roses and symbolised the marriage of Henry VII to Elizabeth, daughter of Edward III.
This establishment was on the north side of Gold Street some idea of its age may be obtained from the earliest document (1750) that mentions it:
All that Messuage or Tenement with Appertances lately erected and built by the said John Tebbutt now used as an Inn and known by the Sign of the Rose & Crown now in The occupation of the said John Tebbutt...
There is always going to be some confusion over this sign as there were at least two in existence within the town walls at about this time - if not three. Advertisements and other references often only give Rose & Crown Northampton. The site of this inn is at present the St. John Ambulance charity shop, Wilkinsons, next door is probably where the White Hart stood.
The earliest definite reference to this inn is in 1750 and Laws Map 1847 shows it, it seems to have survived at least to 1911, so perhaps it was a victim of the First World War?
One of the pubs from the RBN 1898 list that I have been unable to track down. As the Market Square and Sheep Street are close it is possible that this inn and the one below are the same establishment
According to A True and Faithful Relationship of the Late Dreadful Fire at Northampton 1675, the fire:
burned in Ship (Sheep) street as far as the Rose & Crown and some what beyond.
Was this inn rebuilt? We have the following advertisement from the Northampton Mercury December 1720:
The Rose & Crown INN in Northampton, a large lately new Shash'd, Wainscotted and hang'd, with stables for 100 horse, large vaults for wine, and other Conviences, and an old accustom'd House To be let with or without part of its furniture at Christmass next. Enquire of Mr. Rogers at Northampton.
There is no indication of its location, but I assume that as it describes an old accustom'd house it refers to one that has been trading for some time, although this could be sales talk. If this is then the Rose & Crown in Sheep Street was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1675.
This pub closed sometime before 1956 and became a church. In the 1950s the first bus to run on Sundays to Kingsthorpe were after 10am, too late for Mass at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Barrack Road, a long walk away. The old Rose & Crown was purchased by the Church to act as a Chapel of Ease to the Cathedral, saving the Kingsthorpe Catholics a long walk. Directory dates run from 1830 to 1954.
There is a photograph of this pub in the Central Library collection and the name on the wall is G. Cosford who had the pub in the 1890s written on the back is the date May 18 1898.
A political sign, the pub was probably first called the Rose. Punch was drunk by Whigs when it became fashionable at the end of the 17th century and many establishments added Punchbowl to their name to indicate their allegiance. The Tories drank sack and claret, reminding them of times past. This indicates a fashionable inn from the 17th or 18th century. Entries are all Widow Cooper 1824 to the last 1898.
This must have been either on the south corner, or close to the junction between St. Katherines Street and College Street. Only appears once, Taylor 1858, Marshall, William (Royal Engineer), 21 College Street.
Refer to the entry for: The Duke of Edinburgh
Refer to the entry for: The Swan and Helmet
Refer to the entry for: The Queens Arms
I've found four pubs with this name. After the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675 King Charles II gave the town 1,000 tunn of timber from the Whittlebury and Salcey Forests and a remission of seven years chimney tax. This is commemorated with a statue of the monarch and inscription above the portico of All Saints Church. Still today on Oak Apple Day (May 29th) the King's birthday, the statue is wreathed with oak leaves.
In 1651, after the Battle of Worcester, Charles II escaped by shinning up a oak tree at Boscobel - this incident was celebrated during the national rejoicing at the Restoration and an enactment of 1664 fixed Royal Oak Day and it was (and in this town, still is) celebrated for centuries. The King forgave us for our support of Cromwell, and helped after the Fire, so a few Royal Oaks are to be expected.
The Goad Fire Insurance Plan 1899 shows a double property at the end of Agustine Street on the south side as a public house, Wright 1884 gives it a bhs so it was a beer-shop. Dates run from 1878 to 1910.
There are only two entries for this pub, 1845 and 1858 neither with a street number, so it is impossible to locate the establishment. It could be another name for one of the pubs that were on this street at one time.
With a sign like this and its location, this pub was probably opened by a retired soldier to cater for the men in the Barracks opposite. The O/S 1901 shows tiny one-up-one-down houses and this pub was probably one of these - a small beer-shop. The dates are 1858 to 1910.
The Royal Standard is the flag that flies over Buckingham Place when the Queen is in residence and would make a good loyal sign for a pub although I don't think it would imply that Her Majesty was tucked away in the Snug supping a milk stout.
Another pub in Woolmonger Street that I have no number for and so cannot locate - like the Royal Oak above. Dates are 1884 to 1906.
To Be Lett at Michaelmas, or sooner if required. A very good House in St. James's End, near the Town of Northampton, lately the Sign of the Running Horse, containing 3 rooms on a Floor, with good stabling, Brewhouse, Yard and Orchard.
Enquire of Mr. Richard Parr in Northampton.
Northampton Mercury July 1729
The advertisement says lately the Sign of, but it may not have been an inn, large private houses often had a brewhouse.
Refer to the entry for: The Jolly Crispin