title artwork
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.

Sydenham Palace Hotel

photo
NAME SYDENHAM PALACE HOTEL
ALTERNATIVE NAMES SYDENHAM PALACE MUSIC HALL, SYDENHAM PALACE WREXHAM STORES
ADDRESS 1 LOWER FORD STREET
ALTERNATIVE ADDRESSES COX STREET

Sydenham Palace was in fact the Crystal Palace, in Sydenham, London. It was commissioned by Prince Albert to house the international exhibition of 1851 and was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton. It was destroyed by fire in 1936.

This pub is thought to have been built as a railway hotel at some time when there were plans to drive a railway through the city centre. The first record we have is in the 1860's whn the great tightrope walker Blondin visited Coventry and 'gave an exciting exhibition, walking from the top of the Sydenham Palace to the fields behind the Blue Pig in Gosford Street'.

In 1891 it became a music hall, which meant that it combined drinking with entertainment. It was occupied for one week by the 'Tichborne Claimant' Arthur Orton, who talked to packed audiences about his claim to be Sir Roger Tichborne, heir of the Tichborne estate. The real Sir Roger's predecessor had attended the Roman Catholic school in Radford and married Miss Petre of Whitley Abbey at St Osburg's church.

From 1921 to 1927 the pub advertised that it was the headquarters of the Godiva Harriers and also the Fur and Feather Society, which sounds like a hunting club to me. It closed in 1971 and was demolished, thus we lost what was perhaps the grandest of Coventry pubs.

The licensees for 1879 and 1881 are interesting. The first Peter Walker was from Ayr in Scotland and owned breweries in Warrington and Burton-on-Trent. His son, the second Peter Walker, bought the Willow Brewery in Wrexham and it rapidly expanded. In 1882 he moved his brewing empire to Burton-on-Trent and the only link to Wales after that was the use of a Welsh goat as a trade mark. It looks as though at this time Peter Walker was using the Sydenham Palace as a depot for his Wrexham beers. By the way, this has nothing to do with the Wrexham Lager brewery.

Known Licensees are;
1868 Robert Higgitt
1871 Ann Clarke
1879 Peter Walker & Co
1881 Licensee is not named, but it is called the Sydenham Palace Wrexham Stores
1886 - 1913 Thomas Owen
1921 - 1927 S. Croft
1929 - 1936 W. F. Stanton
1937 - 1940 F. E. Browning
1960 - 1962 R. Ryan
map

+ -
Click here to see Research

Dict PN Sydenham Palace was in fact the Crystal Palace, commissioned by Prince Albert to house the international exhibition of 1851; it was designed by Sir Joseph paxton. It was destroyed by fire in 1936

JA112 Said to have been built originally as a railway hotel

JA112 Railway World 2.1962. Article by Gordon Biddle.

On 14 July 1864, a line called the Southam Railway was authorised to be built from the Great Western line near Harbury to Southam with a branch line to the L&NWR Rugby Leamington line near Birdingbury. In connection with this scheme a Bill was drawn up for a Coventry Central Station and the Southam Junction Railway which proposed to build a line from a terminus at the foot of Cope Street ( Coventry ) to the Southam Railway near Birdingbury.

The Sydenham Palace Hotel, which was very close to Cope Street, was built in 1867 as a railway hotel. However, in 1891 this fine hotel became a fully licensed music hall. Advertising called it the ' Gem Variety Theatre of the Midlands ' employing only the top artisits. Trading continued until 11th July 1971

1860's JA34 The great tightrope walker Blondin visited Coventry in the 1860's and ' gave an exciting exhibition, walking from the top of the Sydenham Palace to the fields behind the Blue Pig in Gosford

Street '.

1868 TRE P107 From March 30th, 1868 the Sydenham Palace Inn, built by Mr Robert Higgitt in the previous year at the corner of Lower Ford Street and Cox Street, opened its assembly room with accommodation for an alleged 500 people. The assembly room, probably larger than the Godiva, was later to provide a serious rival to the Theatre Royal after it had become the Empire. The Sydenham Palace, situated opposite the Fair Ground, consisted of an inn, an Assembly Room and a dancing saloon, each capable of holding about 500 people. The estimated capacity would seem exaggerated when looking at the ground plan of the ordnance survey map. The enterprise was run by Higgitt who had once been in charge of the Brewer and Baker in East Street and the Crystal Palace Wine and Spriti Vaults, Burges, only three years previously. Vacillations of policy at the Theatre Royal now left Coventry without a music hall; another vacuum which the management of the Sydenham Palace was only too pleased to fill to its advantage.

1869 TRE P114 The Sydenham Palace. In October 1869 the owner was Robert Higgitt

1873 TRE P118 In June 1873 the Sydenham Palace.....R. Higgitt in full control

1870 TRE P124 ....the Oldbury Palace...opened in 1870 as the Museum Palace of Varieties and was an assembly hall attached to a public house in Church Street. Known as the Bird Show owing to the decorations of stuffed birds that adorned the interior, it functioned as a music hall

It is likely that this style of building resembled the Britannia and Sydenham Palace music halls, both of which were attached to public houses

1876 TRE P128 On the assumption that Robert Higgitt had died, we find the Sydenham Palace was now in the charge of Mrs Eliza Higgitt, who four years later left the taproom and sawdust floor in order to run a confectionary establishment in Cross Cheaping.

28.8.1878 LJ Vol 1 P33 SYDENHAM PALACE, Cox Street / Lower Ford Street Alehouse Owner : Gustave Francis Antoine Gray, 42 Cherry Street, Birmingham
later John Walker, 64 Duke Street, Liverpool
Licensee : Gustave Francis Antione Gray
10.7.1879 TOL to Joseph Bagnall
6.11.1879 TOL to William Bagnall
3.11.1881 TOL to Joseph Pearson
2.11.1882 TOL to Thomas Owen

1879 - 1881 Internet The licensees for 1879 Stevens Directory and 1881 C&B are interesting. Peter Walker was from Ayr in Scotland and owned breweries in Warrington and Burton on Trent. His son, the second Peter Walker, bought the Willow Brewery in Wrexham and it rapidly expanded. In 1882 he moved his brewing empire to Burton on Trent and the only link with Wales after this was the use of a Welsh goat as a trade mark. It looks as though at this time Peter Walker was using the Sydenham Palace as a depot for his Wrexham beers. By the way, this has nothing to do with the Wrexham Lager Brewery.

The Licensing Justices Register does not reflect this, but Peter Walker must be connected to the John Walker of Liverpool they list as the owner.

1887 TRE P149 Neither the Britannia nor the Sydenham Palace were mentioned suggesting both were ' dark ' at the time

1891 JA Music Hall opened

1891 TRE P157 The Sydenham Palace music hall, which appears to have been closed for around fifteen years, re-opened on September 7th, 1891. It is likely there was one circle and that the music hall was situated on the first floor, with the normal public house rooms below. The area of the stage now accommodated a bar

Thomas Owen, a much respected figure and a member of the City Council, was the proprietor.

1893 TRE P161 On Auguts 6th, after a few months closure, the Sydenham Palace of Varieties re-opened as the Pavilion under the proprietorship of A. Brandon, but the venture did not last long and Owen was back in charge by September under the old name

1895 CBH P133 ROE, H. ( Bicycles )
Raglan Street
Little is known about Henry Roe as to the cycles he may have produced. Born in Coventry in 1850 ........ he died in 1895 and a benefit concert was held at the Sydenham Palace Hotel on Cox Street in aid of his widow and children.

1896 TRE P162 The Sydenham finally closed for good on Januear 4th 1896

HOC P232 Smaller venues combined drinking with entertainments such as the Britannia Music Hall and the Sydenham Palace. The latter was occupied for one week by the ' Tichborne Claimant ', Arthur Orton, who talked to packed audiences about his claim to be Sir Roger Tichborne, heir to the Tichborne estate. The real Sir Roger's predecessor had attended the Roman Catholic scoll in Radford ( the Radford Hotel ) and married Miss Petrie of Whitley Abbey at St Osberg's church.

1906 OS MAP

1907 GH P9 Photo

c1910 CWL P34 Photo

1921/22 Spennel l }

1924 Spennell } Headquarters of the Godiva Harriers and the fur and feather society

1926/27 Spennell }

CYKC P32 Q5 Extreme corner of the pub in photo - Atkinsons

1971 CWL P54 Not long after it closed in 1971 it was demolished

LICENSEES

1868 Buchanan Robert Higgitt

WTC Robert Higgitt 1 1/2d F16760 Sydenham Palace Hotel

1871 Census Ann Clarke 64 yo Hotel House Keeper widow & 1 servant,
1878 LJ Vol 1 P33 Gustave Francis Antione Gray [ 3 young Higgitts
1879 LJ Vol 1 P33 Gustave Francis Antione Gray
1879 LJ Vol 1 P33 Joseph Bagnall
1879 LJ Vol 1 P33 William Bagnall
1879 Stevens Peter Walker & Co

1881 C&B Licensee not named Sydenham Palace Wrexham Stores
1881 LJ Vol 1 P33 William Bagnall
1881 LJ Vol 1 P33 Joseph Pearson
1882 LJ Vol 1 P33 Joseph Pearson
1882 LJ Vol 1 P33 Thomas Owen
1886 C&B T. Owen

1890/91 R&G T. Owen

1893 Reporter T. Owen

1894 R&G T. Owen

1896 R&G T. Owen
1898 LJ Vol 1 P33 Thomas Owen
1903 R&G T. Owen

1905 R&G T. Owen

1909 R&G T. Owen

1911/12 Spennell Thomas Owen

1912/13 Spennell Thomas Owen

1921/22 Spennell S. Croft Hotel

1924 P. James S. Croft

1926/27 P. James S. Croft

1929 P. James W. F. Stanton

1931/32 P. James W. F. Stanton

1935/36 P. James W. F. Stanton Public House

1937/38 P. James F. E. Browning " "

1939/40 P. James F. E. Browning " "

1960 Barrett R. Ryan " "

1961 Barrett R. Ryan " "

1962 Barrett R. Ryan " "

1966 Barrett Hotel

OWNERS

1878 LJ Vol 1 P33 Gustave Francis Antoine Gray, 42 Cherry Street, Birmingham
later LJ Vol 1 P33 John Walker, 64 Duke Street, Liverpool
1898 LJ Vol 1 P33 John Walker, 64 Duke Street, Liverpool

Website Content © 2016 Real Ale Rambles. All rights reserved.
Credits and Copyrights for photos and images have been given where possible. We apologise for any omissions.

HTML5 Powered with CSS3 / Styling, Device Access, Graphics, 3D & Effects, Multimedia, Performance & Integration, and Semantics logo

Website Design © 2016 Go Graphix.