There is a reference to the Crown Inn in Cheltenham as early as 1763. In June of that year it was being advertised to let in the Gloucester Journal. The Crown Inn was described as a ‘farmers inn, used by most of the dealers’ with stabling for a hundred horses. To be clear, the term ‘dealers’ in those days referred specifically to market traders and businessmen and certainly did not have the same connotation of which we associate the word today. The Crown was opposite the Corn Market and kept by Jofias Cooke. It was to be ‘let and entered upon at Michaelmas, or any time sooner’.
The Crown must have once brewed its own beer on the premises as the sale included ‘the stock, household furniture and brewing utensils.’ William Skillicorne, attorney of Cheltenham, was handling the transaction. (ref: Gloucester Journal, Monday 6th June, 1763). G Cummings of the Spa in Gloucester provided materials for Home Brewed Beer
Mitchell & Butlers, brewers of Cape Hill in Birmingham, owned the Crown Hotel as early as 1891. It remained in their ownership in 1903. The Crown was by then quite a prestigious establishment, a licensed ale house with an annual rateable value of £136.0s.0d. In the 1906 Kelly’s Directory the address of the Crown Hotel is listed as 113 High Street. Upon renumbering the premises became 167 High Street. There was an ancillary Crown Tap in Albion Street.
Although the Crown was one of the leading hotels in Cheltenham access from the High Street was through a passage with rambling buildings extending through to the main hotel entrance in Albion Street. To the left of the Crown passage in the High Street was the Palace Picture Theatre (later Cinema), which closed in 1954, and to the right was Frederick Wright tobacconists. Top Man occupied the site in the 1990’s. French Connection clothes store and Pret a Manger Organic Coffee shop now straddle the entrance to the site of the Crown.
In the 1960’s and early 1970’s the Crown was still a popular pub, but it will be remembered as the home of Captain’s Cabin – a basement bar with a strong nautical theme – and the Stable, a thatched pseudo bar towards the Albion Street entrance. It was still owned by Bass Breweries (owners of Mitchell & Butlers).
By the mid 1970’s the licence of the premises had effectively became a fully-fledged night-club venue. Charles nightclub was the first to be established, but it transmogrified into various themed clubs over the years including Moda, Lace and Time. The last incarnation was V Club which opened in March 2015.
Exeat Leisure were the owners of V Club. In May 2015 the manager of V Club announced plans to revitalise the nightclub, with the proposed name of Hidden. The revamp was said to be around £300,000 and would feature a club, sports bar, cocktail bar and kitchen, as well as serving as a platform for live events. Mark Stancer, manager, said: “It’s such a big place. The sports bar will be called HD Sports Bar and include around 20 televisions and two projectors, broadcasting a range of live sports.” He added: “a lot of sports bars close at about 12 but the beauty about this one is we carry on with the entertainment down here right through until two or three o’clock in the morning.” However, the proposed refurbishment was cancelled without warning by owners Exeat Leisure.
Merritts Properties Ltd. submitted an application to Cheltenham Borough Council in October 2015 for change of use into residential use with the partial demolition of buildings in Albion Street to permit access. A spokesman for the planned redevelopment said: “Although Time nightclub was a success, since its closure the subsequent rebrands have not worked such that the premises have been closed for the majority of at least the last ten years. The proposed demolition would open up the site and enable the conversion to residential use.”
Buskers Court is a premier residential development which has been built on the site of the Crown Hotel complex. It takes its name from Buskers, the Albion Street venue that was trading in the 1990’s from the premises that was once the Crown Tap.
Landlords at the Crown Inn/Hotel include:
1763 Jofias Cooke
1818-1828 John Reed
1828-1840 Charles Marshall (Crown Inn, High Street)
Charles inherited the Crown, the lease, from his wife’s uncle, John Read, who was innkeeper from 1818-1828, when he died. John Read had taken over as innkeeper of the Crown from Amos Quimby following his death in 1818, aged only 30. Charles and Elizabeth Marshall left Cheltenham in 1840 to take over as proprietor of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel, a seafront resort on Marine Terrace in Aberystwyth, Wales where he stayed until his death in 1858.
1844 Thomas Clark (Crown Inn, 113 High Street)
1844 George Mann (Crown Tap, Albion Street)
1856 J. Waine
1859 Thomas Studd
1870 John Evans
1871 John H. Evans (aged 49)
1878,1885 George Capon
1891 John Edward Chambers
1903 Hubert Withey
1906 Alfred Ogborn
1919 Fred D’Arcy Bearuph
1920 Frederick Leslie Denley (Crown Inn Vaults, Albion Street)
1927 William Alfred Pimley
1939 Sylvanus Windridge
1955 Rt. Edwards
1957 Albert W. Short