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Title: Humphrey Ryddell and the Swan at Coleshill: a sixteenth-century small-town innkeeper and his inn
Authors: Watkins, Andrew
First Published: Oct-2016
Publisher: British Association for Local History
Citation: The Local Historian, 2016, 46 (4), pp. 284-301
Abstract: The original version of this paper was chosen as the winner in the ‘long article’ category of the BALH 2016 publications awards. It is based on a remarkable probate inventory of 1576, which itemises the entire contents of the Swan inn at Coleshill in Warwickshire. The paper begins with a brief overview of the role of inns in urban communities during the early modern period, and then focuses in detail on Coleshill, a small market town which stood astride key national routes and therefore had a busy passing trade requiring extensive accommodation and stabling. The history of the town’s major medieval inns is sketched, and in particular the well-documented development of the Angel, in the centre of the town. The discussion then considers the Ryddell family and the place of its members in local society, before analysing the Swan and its many rooms, their contents and furnishings, and the evidence for the innkeeping business itself, all based on the inventory. It is emphasised that the inn, though large and important, was only part of the wider business activities of the Ryddell family, including their agricultural estate, and that they had a high status in the local community. The later history of the inn, and of Coleshill as a coaching town, is outlined. The article finishes with a complete transcript of the inventory itself, occupying more than four pages of small print, and there is a very comprehensive set of references which will serve as a guide to further reading on this general subject!
ISSN: 0024-5585
Version: Post-print
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2016 British Association for Local History. Archived with permission of the publisher.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Historical Studies

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