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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 White Bear

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High Street west in 1913. On the left is the Craven Arms, previously known as the White Bear, and later the Bear. Waters Wine Lodge is next door.

NAME WHITE BEAR
ADDRESS HIGH 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

This is a heraldic reference to the Earls of Kent. It was also the name of a galleon in Drake's squadron at the attack on Cadiz in 1587.

This pub is said to have been in existence as early as 1572.In 1579 licensee Francis Symcocke died and in his probate he left 18 turkeys, valued at £1 the lot. This is a very early mention of turkeys. There is an example of the violence of the time in 1655 when the wife of Nicholas Unit was sent to the house of correction for scolding and fighting at the Bear.

In 1756 sixteen soldiers were billeted here, which is a sign of the size of the premises. In 1766 and 1783, after Coventry Races, ordinaries were held at the White Bear. Ordinaries were set meals at a set price. In 1768 the newly formed Coventry Canal Company held its first meeting here. Since the Coventry Canal Act received Royal Assent on 29th January 1768 and the first sod was cut in Foleshill in May 1768, doubtless this was an inaugural meeting.

The violence of Coventry's elections is illustrated in 1784 when Oldham, a servant to a clergyman and acquaintance of two of the candidates, was dragged by his hair into the stables of the White Bear by a mob of about thirty supporters of the opposition candidates. Here he was given a good beating. Ultimately this violence resulted in Coventry losing its county status.

In 1802 the White Bear was rebuilt with the older parts claimed to be Elizabethan. Then in 1811 the hotel changed its name to the CRAVEN ARMS. This was an attempt by new owners to improve the hotel's image by rebranding and attempting to distance themselves from the previous owners and clientele. There's nothing new in the world! To illustrate this I reproduce verbatim an advertisement in the Coventry Herald dated 29.7.1881;

CRAVEN ARMS HOTEL, COVENTRY
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C. HANDASYD AND H. WAKEFIELD
Most respectfully inform the nobility, gentry and Commercial
Gentlemen, that they have taken and opened the above inn
(late the WHITE 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.
-------------------------------------------------------
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 that 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.

Known Licensees are;
to 1579 Francis Symcocke
1717 Sarah Lindopp & John Palmer
Owners
1717 Mary Collins and others
Samuel Collins and others

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