A short History of the White Swan Hotel

The Swan

The Swan began life as a simple beer house of little significance in the shadow of the fully licensed and long established Castle Inn on the opposite side of the road, 123 yards to the south.

The original Swan premises were owned by Thomas Bell who farmed in excess of 230 acres. In 1879 the licensee was John Elgie, who traded as a carrier between Wickford and Chelmsford. He was also a carpenter and a builder, as was his father Ralph Elgie of Bloomfield. John Elgie applied for an arranged bankruptcy during 1879 but, for whatever reason, he withheld the transfer of the license when leaving the Swan. His successor Edward Cox, formerly of Rettendon, was therefore unable to receive the transfer and so applied for a new license which was duly granted. Elgie remained in Wickford, however, and celebrated his Golden Wedding anniversary in 1914 while living at Ivy Cottage, London Road. He died there in 1917.

When Thomas Bell died the Swan property was put up for sale by G. B. Hilliard & Sons on behalf of Bell’s executors. The auction took place on Monday July 15, 1895 at the Mart, Tokenhouse Yard in London EC. At the time the tenant was the Writtle Brewery. They held the property on an annual contract at a rent of £30. The property included stabling, a garden and out buildings. The Swan Inn was bought by Luker & Co for the sum of £1,350.

In 1895 at the Brentwood Petty Sessions the then licensee, Edward Cox, was cautioned when applying to renew his license. This was due to a statement by PC Peters who said on several occasions he had seen people leave the premises the worse for drink. In 1896 Edward Cox was again in trouble when fined 10 shillings for serving beer on a Sunday during prohibited hours. The drinker was John Marshall (Dr Marshall?) who was fined one shilling. In addition to the fine Cox and Marshall were each ordered to pay seven shillings in costs. During the same year Richard Weston Patmore, a founding member of the Wickford Cricket Club, took over the license. He was the son of George Hellen Patmore, a draper of Luton, Bedfordshire, which is where Richard was born. In 1897 Luker & Co submitted plans to extend the frontage of the building by four feet and this was approved. Two years later Patmore applied for a full licence but this appears to have been refused. During the next decade Wickford had seen further growth and the two cattle markets held in the town were now trading every Monday. In 1907 Patmore again applied for a full license and this time his application was granted. Thus the Swan first sold spirits in 1907.

More plans were submitted by Henry Luker in 1924 with the aim of upgrading the property. These plans were also accepted. However, the tenders received for the work were considered too expensive and by paying a little more Luker & Co thought they could have a substantially better house. They therefore submitted another set of plans in 1925, but this time to completely rebuild the premises. Work began on the White Swan Hotel during the same year and this is the building we see today. Richard Weston Patmore died on 7 October 1949. Mrs May Patmore (Jefferies) died in 1931. The building will soon reach its 100th anniversary.


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  • Henry Luker’s brewery was the Middleton Brewery in Southend. The main office brewery still stands, has been a pub with various names, The Dickens, O’ Neil’s Irish Pub etc. Lukers stopped brewing in 1929, and sold their 28 tied houses, so they did not have long in the re-built Swan The brewery in Southend was used as a stores for Manns Crossman and Paulin Ltd until 1936.

    By GARY TOWNSEND (06/12/2020)

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