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Here is what we think is the only comprehensive record of pubs and beerhouses within the Coventry city boundaries going back as far as available records allow. This is an ongoing project so contributions, corrections or additions to this archive, especially anecdotes, photos and media are most welcome. Feel free to contact us for a pint and a chat anytime.

The Craven Arms



Circa 1910

NAME CRAVEN ARMS
ADDRESS HIGH STREET
ALTERNATIVE ADDRESSES EARL STREET
THIS PREMISES WAS KNOWN BY DIFFERENT NAMES DURING ITS HISTORY FROM TO KNOWN AS
1572 1811 WHITE BEAR
1811 1970 CRAVEN ARMS
1970 1981 BEAR
The name of this pub comes from the Earls of Craven, who were local landowners, their seat being the nearby Coombe Abbey.

Until 1811 this was the White Bear, an Elizabethan building and a coaching inn, that is one of the places where Mails, Stage Coaches etc. changed horses. On 11th September that year, C. Handasyd and H. Wakefield advertised in the Coventry Herald that they had taken over and completely rebuilt what was previously the White Bear. To quote: 'families of the neighbourhood and others who have been absolutely driven from the house by the miserable manner in which the business has been done are respectfully informed the house is now conducted in a very superior style'. In changing the name the new proprietors were distancing themselves from the previous ones.

The hotel was the centre of many election conflicts as it was the Whig headquarters. Coventry's elections were conducted with such violence that ultimately it forfeited its status as a county.

In 1838 the will of Jacob Hart, who was H. M. Consul to the Court of Savoy, gave this property to his son, Davis Hart, to hold in trust for his son, Simon Hart.

In 1876 the Craven Arms was the meeting place of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire (Freemasons). Although the hotel was rebuilt in 1811, the stable block to the rear survived; it could accommodate up to forty horses. They remained until the whole site was remodelled in 1913.

In c1870 Walter Dan Claridge became the owner at what would have been the relatively young age of 24. Dan Claridge was the landlord for forty years. In that time he tried to revive coach travel with coaches called 'The Good Old Days' and 'Perseverance' but by that time it had become a novelty. He was the last person to drive a coach from Coventry to London. In 1912 he left the Craven Arms in High Street to move to the Craven Arms at Binley. Carriers also used the accommodation here.

By 1915 the site had been rebuilt on modern lines. Ironically, the building that replaced the original was a mock Tudor one. The Craven Arms survived the blitz to be renamed THE BEAR in 1970 and demolished later. The oak panelling and oak Jacobean fire surround in The Prince's Chamber, St. Mary's Hall, are said to have come from the Craven Arms.
photo

The Craven Arms, High Street. Image from the Trinity Lodge website

Known Licensees are;
1838 - 1841 Thomas Cheadle
1850 - 1861 William East
1868 Mrs. M. A. East
c1870 - 1912 Walter Dan Claridge
1919 - 1924 T. J. Kelly
1926 - 1934 A. Ireland
1935 - 1936 H. B. Chapman
1960 Roy C. Baker
1961 Reg A. Suffolk (see also City Arms, Earlsdon and Rose and Crown, High Street)
1962 Roy C. Baker
Owners;
to 1838 Jacob Hart
from 1838 Davis Hart
14.7.1871 Wallter Dan Claridge
photo

The Craven Arms is on the left of the photo here in 1913

photo

Just part of the frontage and a few broken windows - all that remain of the Bear Pub on the High Street, Coventry. 20 December 1980


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Name The name of this pub comes from the Earls of Craven, who were local landowners, their seat being the nearby Coonbe Abbey.

1802 News 2-14 Rebuilt - the older parts of the hotel being Elizabethan

11.9.1811 Source 12 No 41 The White Bear
In Local Memoranda No17, enquiry was made respecting the period when the name of this old hostelry was changed to the Craven Arms. I have recently met with a copy of the Coventry Herald, for September 11th, 1811, containing the advertisement from which a reply can be gleaned. The portion given below will, I hope, be deemed of sufficient interest to secure a place among your local notes.

J. L.

CRAVEN ARMS HOTEL,

COVENTRY

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C. HANDASYD AND H. WAKEFIELD

Most respecfully inform the nobility, gentry, and Commercial gentlemen, that they have taken and opened the above inn ( late the Whiite Bear ), the house having been entirely rebuilt, and that they have elegantly fitted up and furnished the same, and laid in a stock of various kinds of wines, liquors etc. of the best and finest qualities

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Families of the neighbourhood and others who have been absolutely driven from the house by the miserable manner in which the business has been done, are respectfully informed the house is now conducted in a very superior style. Commercial Gentlemen are particularly informed that a light, pleasant and commodious room will be appropriated entirely to their use, and every attention will be paid them.

July 29th 1811

? CR 346/1-3 Lease, grant and schedule of deed for this pub

1818 Poole Election address by Sir Charles Wolseley

1821 TRE P27 Charles Matthews presented ' Budget of Budgets ', a series of Welsh, Irish and Scottish recitations acompanied by comic and appropriate songs at the Craven Arms Hotel Assembly Rooms on June 11 1821. It is likely that the transfer of the lease of the Theatre Royal and Empire prevented his performance taking place at the theatre.

1835 TRE P46 March 1935 saw a block advertisement for the Coventry Craven Arms Assembly Rooms where PACANINI was due to appear. This was a ventriloquist and conjurer, rather than PAGANINI the violinist.

17.4.1838 CR 349/1 Will of Jacob Hart ( H. M. Consul to the Court of Savoy ) devizing the above ( leased to T. G. Cheadle ) to his son Davis Hart, on trust to convey to D. Hart's son Simon.

13.7.1843 CR 346/72 Sale of a premises at the above

14.7.1844 CR 101/1/503 Sale of an estate at the above

28.10.1844 CR 101/1/508 Auction of some premises at the above

1851 Source 49 Board of Health Map

1860's ACov P33a The rear of the Craven Arms in the 1860's. This is part of a large stable block which served the inn, holding up to forty hotses. The stables and most of the original inn survived until their demolition late in 1913. Ironically the building which replaced the original Tudor one was ' mock ' Tudor.

1865 CIC P47 Photo
Election - photo of Mr Mason Innes, Radical Liberal candidate, on the balcony of the above.

14.7.1871 CR 99/9/16 Owner Walter D. Claridge

1874 SOC P206 And their prejudices were given voice by elderly publican Dan Claridge. Claridge was a man who had been born at least a generation too late. As the young landlord of the Craven Arms in High Street, once Coventry's premier coaching inn, he had tried to reintroduce a regular stagecoach service to London back in 1874.

It was sporadic at best, an anachronism whose day would never come again, and it had petered out by 1892. Nevertheless he retained the appearance of and attitudes of a Dickensian sporting gentleman, and in 1915 he was interviewed by a national newspaper journalist visiting Coventry for some wartime colour. ' Its gone, the old Coventry spirit ', he growled. ' It doesn't exist anu more. They say Coventry is more go-ahead than it used to be, but did you ever see people more slack and dawdling than the people you meet today ? '.

28.8.1878 LJ Vol 1 P10 CRAVEN ARMS HOTEL, High Street Alehouse
Owner : William Pridmore, Wyken
later Walter Dan Claridge
Licensee : Walter Dan Claridge

1880 Source 19 This old established Family, Commercial and Posting Hotel is situated in the busy and picturesque High Street.........This hotel is now under Company management, having been recently purchased by its present Proprietor.


This Hotel was formerly known as the ' White Bear ' and is referred to by Reader in his History of Coventry in 1810 by that name as one of the principal Hotels of the City, and one of the places where the Mails, Stage Coaches etc generally changed horses. It was altered to its present names under the proprietorship of Handasyd and Wakefield in 1811, when it had been entirely rebuilt, with the exception of the stables, which still retain the characteristic features of this portion of an ancient hostelry.

26.5.1886 CR 101/8/113 Auction at the Craven Arms

? CR 1012, 1047 Commonplace book of W. D. Claridge

1899 ACov P52 The Craven Arms, High Street, was originally an Elizabethan inn called the White Bear. It was partially rebuilt in 1802 and completely rebuilt in 1914. The landlord of the inn for forty years was white- wiskered Dan Claridge.

Dan Claridge died in April 1923 after a number of years at the other Craven Arms in Binley. The High Street Cravenm Arms site is now occupied by Barclays Bank.

c1900 CovAIW P17 Photo

COC P18 Carriers used the accommodation here ( Walter Dunn )

1906 OS Map

c1913 News 15 Photo
Kept by Walter Dan Claridge c1870 - 1915

HOC P209 Dan Claridge of the Craven Arms tried to reinstate coach travel with ' The Good Old Days ' in the late 19th century, but by then it had become a novelty.

HOC P243 .......Dan Claridge, owner of the Craven Arms and last man to drive a coach from Coventry to London.

11.1915 News 2-14 Completely rebuilt on modern lines.

Centre of many election conflicts as it was the old Whig headquarters.

23.3.1937 Anniversary of Dan Claridge's death. proprietor for 37 years.

1928 ACov P33b Mid-left can be seen the rebuilt Craven Arms, now a re-fronted branch of Barclays Bank

15.11.1940 Cov at War P52 High St, including the Craven Arms, on the morning of Nov 15, 1940.

' M&B '

1940 COCIP P131 Photo

This photograph looking across the corner of Broadgate and down the High Street........

The mock Tudor style timbered building id the Craven Arms rebuilt in 1914. The original inn was itself Tudor and began life as the White Bear

7.5.1945 Cov at War High Street on V. E. Day

? ACov P74b The Prince's Chamber, St Marys Hall
The oak pannelling and oak Jacobean fire surround were taken from the old Craven Arms in the High Street

LICENSEES

1838 CR 349/1 T. G. Cheadle
1841 Census Thomas Cheadle 40 yo innkeeper Not b Wks m Martha, 40 & 1 child
1845 Kelly Mrs M. Cheadle
1850 CS William East

1861 CS William East 56 yo hotel keeper b Watford m Hannah, 59 & 3d, 4s,

1868 Buchanan Mrs M. A. East [ 3 visitors, 13 servants

c1870 News 15 Walter Dan Claridge

1871 Census Walter Dan Claridge 25 yo b Coventry m Mary Ann Barnes, 33 & 14.7.1871 CR 99/9/16 Walter Dan Claridge [ 1s, 1 d-i-l, 1 sisiter-i-, 1 nurse & 9 servants

1874 C&B W. Dan Claridge

1879 Stevens Walter Dan Claridge
1878 LJ Vol 1 P10 Walter Dan Claridge
1881 C&B W. Dan Claridge

1886 C&B W. Dan Claridge

1890/91 R&G W. Dan Claridge

1893 Reporter W. Dan Claridge

1894 R&G W. Dan Claridge

1896 R&G W. Dan Claridge

1903 R&G W. Dan Claridge

1905 R&G W. Dan Claridge
1908 LJ Vol 1 P10 Walter Dan Claridge
1909 R&G W. Dan Claridge

1911/12 Spennell W. Dan Claridge

1912/13 Spennell Licensees name not given

1919 Spennell T. J. Kelly

1921/22 Spennell T. J. Kelly

1924 P. James T. J. Kelly

1926/27 Spennell A. Ireland

1929 Spennell A. Ireland

1931/32 Spennell A. Ireland

1933/34 Spennell A. Ireland

1935/36 Spennell H. B. Chapman

1953 LTSD Earl Street

1955/56 Barrett Not listed in street section

1957 Barrett Not listed in street section

1960 Barrett Roy C. Baker

1961 Barrett R. A. Suffolk

1962 Barrett Roy C. Baker

1966 Barrett

OWNERS

1878 LJ Vol 1 P10 William Pridmore, Wyken
BUT 14.7.1871 CR 99/9/16 Walter Dan Claridge
later LJ Vol 1 P10 Walter Dan Claridge
1908 LJ Vol 1 P10 Walter Dan Claridge

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