Donnington Brewery once had two pubs in Chipping Campden, the Kings Arms and the Swan Inn. It is regrettable that this well loved Cotswold brewery no longer supplies its beer to Chipping Campden pubs. A Donnington tied house in one of the prettiest towns in England would be most welcome!

From ‘The Inns and Alehouses of Chipping Campden and Broad Campden, 1998’ (courtesy Chipping Campden Historical Society and reproduced with permission)

The Swan is a building of four storeys, with two dormer windows, a stone porch over a central doorway, and a side door to a passageway. Inside, what is now the antique shop but was once the bar, there is a beamed ceiling and a large stone fireplace. Rushen says that The Swan was formerly two houses; the front was built when the two were made one, at the end of the eighteenth century, and it was formerly known as The Fox, a typical sign for this hunting district.

It was leased by John Keyt of Broadway to Thomas Garfield in 1671 for two thousand years at ten shillings rent. His son John Garfield sold the lease to Lewis Harrison in 1709. In 1780 the lease belonged to Thomas Russell, whose executors sold to Richard Hand. His widow, Anne Clarke, held it after his death in 1793 until 1830 when the children sold it to Mrs Sarah Palmer. In 1821 Mrs Clarke’s tenant was James Timms; the value of the inn, stables, gardens and premises was £6, rates 3 shillings.

The 1841 census lists Samuel Drury as innkeeper. The Drurys were a well-known family of inn-keepers. In what is now Drury’s Cottage, Back Ends, Henry Drury carved his name in the beams in 1864. Between 1839 and 1852 William Drury rented the right to the Booths at Dover’s Hill games. In 1868 William Drury, landlord of The Swan, bought a hay-rick for ten pounds from Samuel Dunn, maltster and hop merchant – just one of the transactions involved in an innkeeper’s work of providing food and accommodation for horses as well as people.

In 1869 The Evesham Journal recorded that “a judge had, in a recent decision, ruled that skittles was a game and could not be allowed on licensed premises. Superintendent Monk stated that dominoes was a far greater evil. The Swan’s licence was granted on condition that the skittle alley be discontinued.

Later in 1869 William Drury died, and his effects were valued at £135.19s.11d. Amongst his effects from the brewhouse and cellar were a copper furnace, a tun-pail, a six-gallon mash tub and lots of brass taps. There was also a young sow in pig and a store pig. Many innkeepers, and indeed many families kept pigs, and this continued well into this [20th] century. Mr Fred Coldicott has memories of the pig club which met at the tithe barn (where the Tithe House stands now) opposite St James’s church. The club bought pig food wholesale as well as providing insurance against the loss of a pig. William Drury left The Swan to his widow Joanna and then to his nephew William Lane.

According to The Evesham Journal, on 24th September 1870 Frederick Ashwin, Michael Hawley and Thomas Merriman were summoned for being drunk and riotous. Job Shervington, by then the landlord of The Swan, was required to quit for allowing them to get drunk. They were all fined a pound.

On 10th December 1870 there was an application for the transfer of The Swan Inn from Job Shervington to John Robert Slatter. The 1871 census lists John R. Slatter as innkeeper; perhaps he managed the pub for Joanna Drury. Kellys Directory of 1879 lists Alfred Taplin as innkeeper. According to the 1881 census he was also a joiner, and James Osborne, hairdresser, lived there too. By 1889 there had been another change in occupancy: Kelly’s names Richard Stead. In 1892 Mr J,G. Skey was landlord, and in August of that year his wife applied for a transfer of the licence, her husband being at camp with the volunteers at Aldershot. In 1894 the Petty Session records show that he applied for an extension for a quadrille party at Christmas time, and again in the following April and on other occasions. (Quadrille was a popular dance which required relatively little space.)

In 1907 Norman Jewson found Campden remote and self-contained. In his book By Chance Did I Rove he observed: “Every other house in the High Street was, or had been, an inn, so it was not an easy matter to decide which to chose for a lodging. In the end… I chose The Swan from its fine old sign and found I had made an excellent choice. The bar was pleasantly old-fashioned… the innkeeper and his wife were noted… for making their guests comfortable, the bedrooms were unpretentious but scrupulously clean, while Mrs Skey was a first class cook. It was there I first enjoyed backbone pie… After the pig was killed and sides salted for bacon, the backbone was chopped into chunks, boiled with onions and sage, and then covered with pastry.”

A building at the back of The Swan belonged to the Oddfellows: the name can still be seen carved in the stone. The Oddfellows were one of the three friendly societies in Campden, and their meeting room was in this building.

Mr Nevil New remembers Mr and Mrs Skey (pronounced Skee). “He was a ponderous and slow-moving man but I suppose he bustled about running the bar. Mrs Skey was a neat and precise woman. She let out perhaps three or four rooms on upper floors of the Swan and made her guests most comfortable. Many of our friends stayed there if there was no room at Ivy House (where we lived). An entry in my father’s diary shows that he stayed there for two weeks in August 1914. We were all on holiday but my father had to curtail his holiday because of the war so he stayed at The Swan until the rest of us came home.”

Several pubs in Campden were closed at the end of the war, but The Swan apparently closed voluntarily so that the premises could be used by the school. For Nevil New “The Swan was the greatest loss of the closed pubs.”

In 1919 The Swan belonged to the Grammar School and classes were held there, carrying on until the new Grammar School was built in 1928; after this domestic science classes still took place here until 1946 when the building became the man teaching block for the Campden School of Arts and Crafts, which held an annual exhibition in the building behind The Swan. In the 1950’s the Youth Club was held on the top two floors. The Grammar School sold The Swan after the new comprehensive school was built in the sixties.

Today The Swan is an antique shop with the swan sign hanging outside. (Swan Antiques)

Licensing Details:

Owner in 1891: Richard Iles Arkell, Donnington Brewery

Rateable value in 1891: £16.0s.0d.

Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse

Owner in 1903: Richard Iles Arkell, Donnington Brewery

Rateable value in 1903: £14.10s.0d.

Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse

Closing time in 1903: 11pm

Landlords at the Swan Inn include:

1841 Samuel Drury

1856-1869 William Drury

1870 Job Shervington

1870 John Robert Slatter

1879 Alfred Taplin

1885 George Mansell Taplin

1891 Richard Stead

1892,1906 John George Skey

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