Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Angel and Royal Hotel

click photos to enlarge
Several establishments claim to be England's oldest inn. The Old Ferryboat at St Ives, Cambridgeshire, proposes a date of 560AD and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans says its origins go back to 795AD? Many would think the most ancient was Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, a building that includes construction of  around 1189 and a cavern excavated in a cliff face. Today's photographs show The Angel and Royal Hotel at Grantham in Lincolnshire. The earliest date it claims is 1203 though cellars and foundations are reputed to stretch back to the 800s. So though decidedly venerable it probably can't be called the very oldest inn. However, what is indisputable is that there can be few with so much history attached to them as this Lincolnshire hostelry.

The building started life as a property of the Knights Templars during which time, in 1213, King John thought it would make a good stopping off point for his court during its tour of the country. Then the building came into the ownership of the Knights Hospitallers who, like the Templars, were known for offering hospitality to travellers. In the fourteenth century Edward III and his queen visited. The gilded angel holding a crown is said to be a tribute to his patronage. In 1483 Richard III stayed at the hotel and in the Chambre de Roi (now the King's Room Restaurant) set in motion the order for the execution of the Duke of Buckingham. Charles I stayed there in 1633 and in 1643 Oliver Cromwell was a visitor following his success in battle near Grantham. In the eighteenth century The Angel (as it was then known) became a notable coaching inn offering accommodation for travellers, including George IV, on the Great North Way. The name of the inn was changed to the The Angel and Royal after the visit in 1866 of the Prince of Wales. He later became Edward VII.

The main elevation of the building we see today is stone-faced, two storeyed, with bays, buttresses, a parapet, rather fine grotesques and gargoyles, and dates from the late 1400s. The central carriage arch is now glazed with doors. Above is an oriel window supported by the gilded demi-angel holding a crown. There is an eighteenth century extension to the left (out of shot), and internal rooms show details of, principally, the fifteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

I took today's photographs after, on a cold and clear day, we'd eaten lunch in the King's Room below sagging beams next to a stone fireplace, warmed by a roaring fire.

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Main Photo
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 65mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On