Coaching inn

Last updated

Painting of the first Cock Hotel in Sutton, Surrey by Thomas Rowlandson in 1789. The Cock Hotel, 1789.jpg
Painting of the first Cock Hotel in Sutton, Surrey by Thomas Rowlandson in 1789.

The coaching inn (also coaching house or staging inn) was a vital part of Europe's inland transport infrastructure until the development of the railway, providing a resting point (layover) for people and horses. The inn served the needs of travellers, for food, drink, and rest. The attached stables, staffed by hostlers, cared for the horses, including changing a tired team for a fresh one. Coaching inns were used by private travellers in their coaches, the public riding stagecoaches between one town and another, and (in England at least) the mail coach. Just as with roadhouses in other countries, although many survive, and some still offer overnight accommodation, in general coaching inns have lost their original function and now operate as ordinary pubs.


Coaching inns stabled teams of horses for stagecoaches and mail coaches and replaced tired teams with fresh teams. In America, stage stations performed these functions. Traditionally English coaching inns were seven miles apart but this depended very much on the terrain. Some English towns had as many as ten such inns and rivalry between them was intense, not only for the income from the stagecoach operators but for the revenue for food and drink supplied to the passengers. Barnet, Hertfordshire still has an unusually high number of historic pubs along its high street due to its former position on the Great North Road from London to the North of England.

Historic coaching inns

The George Inn, Southwark is the only galleried coaching inn to survive in London Thegeorgesouthwark.jpg
The George Inn, Southwark is the only galleried coaching inn to survive in London

The Black Lion in Cardigan (established 1105) is probably the oldest Welsh coaching inn. [3] [ better source needed ] Other historic inns in Wales include the Black Boy Inn (built 1522) and the Groes Inn (1573). [4]

The Bear, Oxford, was founded in 1774 as 'The Jolly Trooper' from the house of the stableman to the coaching inn 'The Bear Inn', on High Street. It acquired the name The Bear, and the history of the coaching inn, when The Bear Inn was converted into a private house in 1801. [5]

There were many coaching inns in what is now central London. The only remaining one with the galleries to the bedrooms above is The George Inn, Southwark, owned by the National Trust and still run as a pub. [6] Many have been demolished and plaques mark their location. The Nomura building close to the Museum of London on London Wall commemorates the "Bull and Mouth" Inn. The Golden Cross House, opposite St Martin's in the Fields recalls the Golden Cross, Charing Cross coaching inn.

Cock and Bull

A pair of coaching inns along Watling Street in Stony Stratford are claimed to have given rise to the term "cock and ball stories". The claim is that stories by coach passengers would be further embellished as they passed between the two hostelries, "The Cock" and "The Bull", fuelled by ale and an interested audience. Hence any suspiciously elaborate tale would become a cock and ball story. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is where the phrase originated. [7] The phrase, first recorded in 1621, may instead be an allusion to Aesop's fables, with their incredible talking animals. [8]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hotel</span> Establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis

A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a refrigerator and other kitchen facilities, upholstered chairs, a flat screen television, and en-suite bathrooms. Small, lower-priced hotels may offer only the most basic guest services and facilities. Larger, higher-priced hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference and event facilities, tennis or basketball courts, gymnasium, restaurants, day spa, and social function services. Hotel rooms are usually numbered to allow guests to identify their room. Some boutique, high-end hotels have custom decorated rooms. Some hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. In Japan, capsule hotels provide a tiny room suitable only for sleeping and shared bathroom facilities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inn</span> Establishment providing lodging, food and drink

Inns are generally establishments or buildings where travelers can seek lodging, and usually, food and drink. Inns are typically located in the country or along a highway; before the advent of motorized transportation they also provided accommodation for horses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pub</span> Establishment that serves alcoholic drinks

A pub is a drinking establishment licensed to serve alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises. The term first appeared in the late 17th century, and was used to differentiate private houses from those which were open to the public as alehouses, taverns and inns. Today, there is no strict definition, but CAMRA states a pub has four characteristics:

  1. is open to the public without membership or residency
  2. serves draught beer or cider without requiring food be consumed
  3. has at least one indoor area not laid out for meals
  4. allows drinks to be bought at a bar
<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stagecoach</span> Type of covered wagon

A stagecoach is a four-wheeled public transport coach used to carry paying passengers and light packages on journeys long enough to need a change of horses. It is strongly sprung and generally drawn by four horses although some versions are drawn by six horses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eaton Socon</span> Human settlement in England

Eaton Socon is a community in south-west Cambridgeshire. Eaton Socon is a component of the town of St Neots, located on its south-west margin. Eaton Socon lies on the west side of the River Great Ouse, and is bounded on the west by the A1 road and on the south by the A428 road. On the north side Duloe Brook delineates the boundary with Eaton Ford, which is also part of St Neots.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stony Stratford</span> Town and civil parish in Milton Keynes, England

Stony Stratford is a constituent town of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. Historically it was a market town on the important route from London to Chester. It is also the name of a civil parish with a town council within the City of Milton Keynes. It is in the north-west corner of the Milton Keynes urban area, bordering Northamptonshire and separated from it by the River Great Ouse.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Angel, Islington</span> Historic landmark in Islington, London,

The Angel, Islington, is a historic landmark and a series of buildings that have stood on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road in Islington, London, England. The land originally belonged to the Clerkenwell Priory and has had various properties built on it since the 16th century. An inn on the site was called the "Angel Inn" by 1614, and the crossing became generally known as "the Angel". The site was bisected by the New Road, which opened in 1756, and properties on the site have been rebuilt several times up to the 20th century. The corner site gave its name to Angel tube station, opened in 1901, and the surrounding Angel area of London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pub names</span>

Pub names are used to identify and differentiate traditional drinking establishments. Many pubs are centuries old, and were named at a time when most of their customers were illiterate, but could recognise pub signs. The use of signage was not confined to drinking establishments. British pubs may be named after and depict anything from everyday objects, to sovereigns, aristocrats and landowners. Other names come from historic events, livery companies, occupations, sports, and craftsmen's guilds. One of the most common pub names is the Red Lion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cock and bull story</span>

A cock and bull story is a fanciful, unlikely story.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coach (carriage)</span> Large four-wheeled closed carriage

A coach is a large, closed, four-wheeled, passenger-carrying vehicle or carriage usually drawn by two or more horses controlled by a coachman, a postilion, or both. A coach has doors in its sides and a front and a back seat inside. The driver has a raised seat in front of the carriage to allow better vision. It is often called a box, box seat, or coach box. There are many of types of coaches depending on the vehicle's purpose.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White Hart Inn, Crawley</span> Historic site in West Sussex , England

The White Hart Inn, also known as the White Hart Hotel, is a coaching inn on the High Street in Crawley, a town and borough in West Sussex, England. Built in the late 18th century to replace an older inn also under the sign of the White Hart, it also served as Crawley's main post office for most of the 19th century, and still operates as a public house in the 21st century. Its partly timber-framed structure, which incorporates part of an early 17th-century building, is characteristic of the area. It is designated a Grade II Listed building.

The Galena–Chicago trail was a stagecoach route located in northern Illinois that ran from the mid-to-late 1830s until 1854. As indicated by its name, the route linked Chicago, located in the northeast of the state, with Galena which was located in the lead mining district of the northwest. The Chicago-Galena trail includes the "Stagecoach Trail" that runs between Galena and Lena, Illinois. East of Lena the stage route follows U.S. Route 20 and Business U.S. Route 20 through Eleroy, Freeport and Rockford to Belvidere. This road began as the old State Road number 2 established on 15 January 1836 and laid out by June 1837.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reportedly haunted locations in the United Kingdom</span> List of locations in the U.K where people have seen/ experienced paranormal activity.

The following is a list of reportedly haunted locations in the United Kingdom.

The Sheffield to Hathersage turnpike was an early road through the English Peak District, which was improved by a turnpike trust in the 18th century. The road may have originated as a Roman road.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kings Head Hotel, Monmouth</span> Posting inn in Monmouth, Wales

The King's Head Hotel is a hotel standing opposite the Shire Hall in Glyndŵr Street, Agincourt Square, Monmouth, Wales. It dates from the mid-17th century, and as one of the major inns in Monmouth was reputedly visited by Charles I of England in 1645. It has a fine black-and-white painted stone façade and became an important posting inn in the late 17th century, with a yard through an archway where visitors' horses could be stabled and where regular coach services called. In the 18th and 19th centuries, stagecoaches for London left from the inn. The range of buildings along Agincourt Street now includes the former Monmouth Bank and the County Club, while the inn itself is now part of the J D Wetherspoon pub chain. It is one of 24 buildings on the town's Heritage Trail and is a Grade II* listed building.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stage station</span> Place of rest provided for stagecoach travelers

A stage station or relay station, also known as a staging post, a posting station, or a stage stop, is a place where exhausted horses could be replaced by fresh animals, since a long journey was much faster without delays when horses needed rest. Stage is the space between the places known as stations or stops—known to Europeans as posts or relays.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old White Horse Cellar</span> Building in London, England

The Old White Horse Cellar also known as Hatchetts White Horse Cellar at No. 155 Piccadilly, was one of the best known coaching inns in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. The first mention of the White Horse Cellar is in 1720. It was originally located on the corner of Arlington Street, where the Ritz Hotel is now located. The first landlord, a man named Williams, named it in honor of the newly established House of Hanover, whose heraldic emblem featured a white horse. The White Horse rose to prominence under Abraham Hatchett who later moved it to the opposite side of the road on the corner of Albemarle Street, where it was known as "Hatchett’s Hotel and White Horse Cellar". The precise date of the move is not known, but was precipitated by the construction of the Bath Hotel, which was located on the corner of Piccadilly and Arlington as early as 1798. It was torn down in 1884 to make room for the Albemarle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bull and Mouth Inn</span>

The Bull and Mouth Inn was a coaching inn in the City of London that dated from before the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was located between Bull and Mouth Street in the north and Angel Street in the south. It was once an important arrival and departure point for coaches from all over Britain, but particularly for the north of England and Scotland. It became the Queen's Hotel in 1830 but was demolished in 1887 or 1888 when new post office buildings were built in St Martin's Le Grand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dog & Bull</span> Public house in south London, England

The Dog & Bull is a public house in Croydon, England. It is a Grade II Listed, 18th-century building with a 19th-century frontage in Surrey Street, on the site of a previous 12th- or 13th-century inn called The Bell.

The Phoenix Hotel was one of the most popular social spots in Dedham during the 19th century. It was located on the northwest corner of the High Street-Washington Street intersection in modern-day Dedham Square. Among the distinguished guests of this hotel were Andrew Jackson and James Monroe.


  1. Charles Harper (1922), The Brighton Road, Cecil Palmer, pp. 158–159
  2. " - pubs Resources and Information". Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  3. The Black Lion Hotel. Archived April 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Hotels in North Wales - Dog Friendly Conwy Hotels - The Groes Inn". The Groes Inn. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  5. Christopher Hibbert, ed. (1988). "Bear Inn". The Encyclopaedia of Oxford . Macmillan. pp. 35–36. ISBN   0-333-39917-X.
  6. "George Inn". Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  7. "World Wide Words: Cock and bull story". World Wide Words. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  8. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 24 October 2015.