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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 Unicorn

well street 1930

The bottom of Burges in 1927, with Well Street in the distance viewed from Hale Street, here showing buildings before the demolition for the new Corporation Street in 1931. The Unicorn occupied the building here shown as W.H. Crofts on the left, and the building on the corner was previously the Wine Lodge. See the 1888 town planning map below

NAME UNICORN
ADDRESS 16 BURGES
ALTERNATIVE ADDRESSES 18 BURGES, MARKET PLACE

The unicorn is a legendary animal which has a horses body with a single long horn, which is supposed to possess magical powers. The pub name has heraldic origins. The unicorn supported the Scottish Royal Arms and when James IV of Scotland became James I of England he brought the unicorn into the English Royal Arms, replacing the Welsh Dragon. The unicorn is also in the arms of the Waxchandlers, the Goldsmiths and the Apothecaries.

In 1702 Coventry Corporation let this pub to J. Sherwood. In 1720 J. Itchenor had recently bought it from the Corporation and let it to T. Smith. In 1756 eight soldiers were billeted here. A document in the City Records implies that the pub was new at this time as it states that N. Lawton held land that later became the Unicorn and he died in 1758.

Then the pub changes hands rapidly. T. Itchenor sold it to R. Ballard for £80 in 1778. In 1779 it was given by K. Oldham to S. Oldham, who in the same year sold it to R. Ballard and Lowe In 1841. J. Ballard leaves it to G. Downes.

In 1899 Phillips and Marriott were leasing it on an annual tenancy for £60 per annum from Truman, Hanbury and Co Ltd of Burton on Trent. Here it is called the 'Unicorn Vaults'. After just one year the tenanacy lapsed upon notice from the owners. On 7th October 1909 the pub closed. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for the new Corporation Street.

Known Licensees are;
1822 - 1823 J. Ballard
1835 - 1841 James Hollyer
1850 - 1851 John Cornell
1861 John Smallwood
1868 - 1874 James Hegan
1886 J. Millerchip
1890 - 1891 T. Petty
1893 E. Morris
1894 - 1896 Joseph Bale
1900 Eliza Ashmore
1903 - 1905 W. H. Cleaver
1909 Esther Cleaver
Owners;
1702 Coventry Corporation
1720 J. Itchenor
to 1778 T. Itchenor, K. Oldham & S. Oldham
from 1778 R. Ballard & Lowe
from 1842 G. Downes
1899 Truman, Hanbury & Co Ltd, Burton on Trent
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Dict PN the unicorn is a legendary animal which supposedly has a horse's body and a single long horn projecting from its forehead. the hornis thought to possess magical properties. However, use of the word in pub names is always a heraldic reference. two unicorns support the Royal Arms of Scotland. When James IV of scotland became James I of England, one of these unicorns displaced the Welsh dragon on the English Royal Arms, the other supporter being the lion. A unicorn also features in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers ( 1483 ), the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths ( 1327 ) and the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries ( 1617 ).

18.11.1702 CR 391/1 Coventry Corporation let it to J. Sherwood

19.11.1720 CR 391/2 J. Itchenor lets the pub to T. Smith, which has recently been bought from the Corporation

21.11.1720 CR 391/3 Attorney's receipt for the above pub

1756 Alderman Hewitt 8 soldiers billetted

c1758 CR 101/9/36-37 N. Lawton held land in the Burges that later became the Unicorn Inn. foootnote He died c 1758

1773 JA34 ref 15 Murder of John Pinchbeck

.....Farn was to meet Verity at the Cross Guns but Verity, mistaking the house going into the Unicorn, they missed each other.

12/13.11.1778 CR 391/5-6 T. Itchenor sells the pub to R. Ballard for £ 80

1778 CR 391/7 final concord between Dakin and T. & M. Itchenor

21.1.1779 CR 391/8 Conveyed from K. Oldham ( daughter of N. Lawton ) to S. Oldham

( grandson of N. Lawton ).

22-23.1.1779 CR 391/9-10 S. Oldham sells the pub to R. Ballard and Lowe

c1800 COC P42 Mentioned in Napoleonic poem

10.12.1842 CR 391/11 J. Ballard leaves it to G. Downes ( son of his late cousin J. Downes ) and also bequeaths the Golden Cross to M. Ballard.

1851 Source 49 Board of Health Map

23.5.1851 JA141 CS Transfer of license from John Cornell to John Smallwood

24.3.1876 JA141 CH&O Transfer of license from James Hegan to Alfred Fielding

28.8.1878 LJ Vol 1 P52 UNICORN, Burgess Alehouse
Owner : William Ratliff
Licensee : Edward William Christopher Warner
6.11.1879 TOL to William Ratliff
19.3.1880 TOL to Elizabeth Probert
7.7.1881 TOL to Henry Clitheroe
1.6.1882 TOL to William Ratliff
2.11.1883 TOL to John Archer
6.12.1883 TOL to William Ratliff
6.8.1885 TOL to Joseph Millerchip
4.11.1886 TOL to James Sherrad
19.4.1888 TOL to Benjamin Bolton
6.12.1888 TOL to Thomas Petty
16.4.1891 TOL to Elizabeth Newey
3.12.1891 TOL to William Howkins
3.3.1892 TOL to Arthur Ward
29.10.1892 TOL to Edward Morris
1.3.1894 TOL to Joseph Bate
23.6.1898 TOL to Eliza Ashmore

1887 COC P56 Cov Times Inn signs

24.6.1899 P&M PR Leased by Phillips & Marriott on an annual tenancy for £ 60 p.a. from Truman, Hanbury & Co Ltd, Burton-on-Trent. Unicron vaults

24.12.1900 P&M PR Tenancy lapsed on notice from owners.

1906 OS MAP

7.10.1909 Closed

1931 CIC Demolished to make way for Corporation Street

CIC P31 Photo

20thc CR 391/12 Paper identifying deeds CR 391 as referring to the Unicorn

LICENSEES

1822/23 Pigot J. Ballard

1828/29 Pigot James Hollyer

1835 Pigot James Hollyer

1841 Pigot James Hollyer

1845 Kelly James Hollyer St Johns Bridges

1850 COS John Cornell

1851 Census John Cornell 45 yo m Elizabeth, 47 & 1 servant

1851 JA141 CS John Cornell

1851 JA141 CS John Smallwood

1861 Census John Smallwood 39 yo innkeeper b Coventry widower & 1 servant

1868 Buchanan James Hegan

1871 Census James Hegan 49 yo b Liverpool m Mary A., 40

1874 C&B J. Hegan

1876 JA141 CH&O James Hegan

1876 JA141 CH&O Alfred Fielding

1878 LJ Vol 1 P52 Edward William Christopher Warner
1879 LJ Vol 1 P52 Edward William Christopher Warner
1879 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1880 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1880 LJ Vol 1 P52 Elizabeth Probert
1881 LJ Vol 1 P52 Elizabeth Probert
1881 LJ Vol 1 P52 Henry Clitheroe
1882 LJ Vol 1 P52 Henry Clitheroe
1882 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1883 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1883 LJ Vol 1 P52 John Archer
1883 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1885 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1885 LJ Vol 1 P52 Joseph Millerchip
1886 C&B J. Millerchip
1886 LJ Vol 1 P52 Joseph Millerchip
1886 LJ Vol 1 P52 James Sherrad
1888 LJ Vol 1 P52 James Sherrad
1888 LJ Vol 1 P52 Benjamin Bolton
1888 LJ Vol 1 P52 Thomas Petty
1890/91 R&G T. Petty
1891 LJ Vol 1 P52 Thomas Petty
1891 LJ Vol 1 P52 Elizabeth Newey
1891 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Howkins
1892 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Howkins
1892 LJ Vol 1 P52 Arthur Ward
1892 LJ Vol 1 P52 Edward Morris
1893 Reporter E. Morris Unicorn Vaults
1894 LJ Vol 1 P52 Edward Morris
1894 LJ Vol 1 P52 Joseph Bale
1894 R&G Joseph Bale

1896 R&G Joseph Bale
1898 LJ Vol 1 P52 Joseph Bale
1898 LJ Vol 1 P52 Eliza Ashmore
9.3.1900 P&M PR Eliza Ashmore

1903 R&G W. H. Cleaver

1905 R&G W. H. Cleaver

1909 R&G Esther Cleaver

OWNERS

1702 CR 391/1 Coventry Corporation

1720 CR 391/2 J. Itchenor

to 1778 CR 391/5,6,7,8 T. Itchenor, K. Oldham, S. Oldham

from 1778 CR 391/5,6,9,10 R. Ballard & Lowe

from 1842 CR 391/11 G. Downes
1878 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1898 LJ Vol 1 P52 William Ratliff
1899 - 1900 P&M PR Truman, Hanbury & Co, Burton-on-Trent

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