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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 Lion

photo

The White Lion was the last building demolished to make way for the Upper Precinct

NAME WHITE LION HOTEL
ADDRESS 50/51 SMITHFORD STREET
THIS PREMISES WAS KNOWN BY DIFFERENT NAMES DURING ITS HISTORY FROM TO KNOWN AS
c1734 ? WHITE LION HOTEL
? ? WHITE LION COMMERCIAL INN
1860 1861 STORK
1926 HORATIO NELSON *tbc
1927 1955 WHITE LION (RESTAURANT)

This is a heraldic reference to Edward IV, or the Earls of March or Duke of Norfolk.

The pub gained some notoriety in 1734 when the licensee, Susannah Wall, was murdered by her nephew, Thomas Wilday, a local wool-comber. He also murdered Ann Shenton, whom I have seen described in different accounts as Susannah Wall's daughter, her niece or her servant girl. Goodness knows which is the truth!

In 1734 Thomas Wilday, a woolcomber, murdered his aunt, Susannah Wall, the licensee of the White Lion. He also murdered his cousin, Mrs Ann Shelton, the daughter of Mrs Wall. He was hung in chains on Whitley Common.

In 1756 four soldiers were billeted here. In 1823 Townsend, a pedestrian, that is a competitive walker, walked from the White Lion to Warwick and back three times a day for six days. I only hope he made some money from this. In 1860 the White Lion was leased by Mr Edgar Sharman, a veterinary surgeon and publican ! Odd combination that, but he only stayed for a year. During that time it appears to have been known as the STORK, perhaps in recognition of Mr Sharman's position as a vet.

The pub was sold in 1874. In 1926 it was the HORATIO NELSON. Only for that one year mind, so maybe the entry is a mistake.

This was the last building to be demolished to make way for the Upper Precinct in 1954. It stood next door to Marks and Spencer. A good description of the pub was printed in the local press some years ago and the best I can do is to repeat it word for word - 'The White Lion had a really beautiful interior, the large bay window being the public bar. To the right was a passageway to the main entrance, a smoke room, kitchens, a staircase to the Grosvenor function room and restaurant. The large window in the centre of the first floor was our private lounge with a view across the street. During air raids the top-storey, where the staff had their quarters, was destroyed, which explains the appearance of the building after the war'.

Sounds grand, doesn't it? Of course, it was replaced by the unpleasant modern concrete rubbish of the Upper Precinct. the license was transfered to the WHITE LION, Ironmonger Row in 1955

Known Licensees are;
1734 Susannah Wall
1822 - 1835 James Mills
1841 - 1851 Charles Price
1860 - 1861 Edgar Sharman
1861 Mr Hanson
1867 Mrs. Ann Robinson
1868 William Ladkin
1868 Henry Bailey
1874 - 1886 John Whittam Loveitt
1890 - 1891 J. E. F. Jones
1893 E. Branston
1894 H. J. Smith
1896 Percy Whittem
1903 G. E. Taylor
1909 - 1913 Walter J. Osberne
1919 J. Hains
1924 A. W. Brown
1933 - 1936 A. S. Lane
1937 - 1940 J. Lunn
from 1940 Mr. Moon
photo

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Dict PN A heraldic reference to Edward IV, or the Earls of March or Duke of Norfolk

1734 JA10 Wilson & JA34 Thomas Wilday, a woolcomber, murdered his aunt, Susannah Wall, licensee of the White Lion, Smithford Street. Also his cousin Mrs Ann Shenton, daughter of Mrs Wall. He was hung in chains on Whitley Common.

1734 COC P54 Licensee, Susannah Wall, murdered by her nephew, Thomas Wilday, a local wool-comber

1734 Poole P405 Thomas Wilday, a wool-comber, murdered his aunt, Susannah Wall, and Ann Shenton, her daughter, who kept the White Lion in Smithford Street.

1734 FDSDC One such crime took place at the White Lion Inn in Smithford Street when Thomas Wilday murdered his aunt, Susannah Wale, the landlady, and her neice, Ann Shenston. Wilday was hanged on Whitley Common on the 17th April 1734 and was then gibbeted.

1756 Alderman Hewitt 4 soldiers billeted

31.3.1823 - 5.4.1823 Poole P410 Townsend, a pedestrian, walked from Coventry to Warwick and back 3 times each day, within 16 hours, being 316 miles in 6 days. He started from the White Lion in Smithford Street.

1851 Source 49 Board of Health Map

1860 JA34 White Lion, Smithford Street, mentioned

1860 JA34 It became the STORK

24.8.1860 JA23 CS Premises to let - It was apparently taken by a Mr Sharman who renamed it the STORK INN

5.7.1861 JA23 CS Advert - the STORK INN lately the White Lion to let

1861 Census Edgar Sharman veterinary surgeon & innkeeper, 50 Smithford Street, pub not named

16.8.1861 & 30.8.1861 JA23 CS Mr Hanson took over the White Lion tenancy from Mr Sharman of the STORK INN. So it had reverted to its original sign.

1861 JA23 City Lodge of Carpenters and Joiners held their annual dinner at the LION, Smithford Street

1861 JA34 It had reverted to the WHITE LION

10.11.1866 JA141 CS Transfer of license from Frederick Bolton to Annie Robinson

6.2.1867 CR 346/80 Mrs Ann Robinson, occupant, is in arrears with the rent.

26.9.1868 JA141 CS Transfer of license from J. J. Ladkin to Henry Bailey

11.5.1874 CR 101/143/5 Draft particulars of the sale of 44/45 Smithford Street

28.8.1878 LJ Vol 1 P28 WHITE LION, Smithford Street Alehouse
Owner : Edward Wilson, Exhall House, Nr Coventry
later Ernest Edward John James
later Ind Coope & Co Ltd
Licensee : John Whittem Loveitt
11.11.1886 TOL to Ernest Edward John Jones
30.7.1891 TOL to Ernest Howard Branston
7.12.1893 TOL to Arthur Bach
6.12.1894 TOL to Harry Albert Whittem
14.5.1896 TOL to Percy Joseph Whittem
14.11.1898 TOL to Frederick Stephen Franklin

1887 COC P55 Cov Times inn signs

1926 See HORATIO NELSON, Smithford Street

c1950 ACOV P125A The timbered building is the White Lion Inn, the scene of the bloody murder of the inn's landlady and serving-maid in the middle of the 18th century

1954 News 2-29 Photo ' Ind Coope & Alsopp '

The last building demolished to build the Upper Predinct. Next door to Marks and Spencer. ' The White Lion had a really beautiful interior, the large bay window being the public bar. To the right was a passageway to the main entrance, a smoke room, kitchens, a staircase to the Grosvenor function room and a restaurant. The large window in the centre of the first floor was a private lounge with a view across the street. During air raids the top storey, where the staff had their quarters, was destroyed, which explains the appearance of the building after the war '.

1954 COCIP P154 Photo

Looking down the Upper Precinct along the original Smithford Street in 1954

On the right can be seen the White Lion public house and restaurant still in situ in Smithford Street. This was the second inn on the site, the previous building dating from at least the 18th century. The inn gained some notoriety in 1734 when Thomas Wilday murdered his aunt Susannah Wall, and her daughter Ann Shenton who kept the inn

1954 COVHC P30 Photo

The White Lion on the right was the scene of a double murder in 1734

late 1954 COCIP P154 Photo

note that the White Lion has been replaced.

1955 Closed

1955 JA16 License transferred to the White Lion, Ironmonger Row

LICENSEES

1734 FDSDC Susannah Wale

1734 COC P45 Susannah Wall

1734 Poole P405 Susannah Wall

1822/23 Pigot James Mills

1828/29 Pigot James Mills

1835 Pigot James Mills

1841 Pigot Charles Price

1841 Census Charles Price 36 yo innkeeper b Wks m Phillis, 35 & Jane, 25

1845 Kelly Charles Price

1850 COS Charles Price

1851 Census Charles Price 46 yo innkeeper b Wilmcote m Phillis, 43 & 1 sister, 1 nephew

1861 Census Edgar Sharman 32 yo 50 Smithford Street veterinary surgeon & innkeeper
1866 JA141 CS Frederick Bolton [ & 2 lodgers, 4 servants

1866 JA141 CS Annie Robinson

1867 CR 346/80 Mrs Ann Robinson

1868 Buchanan William Ladkin
1868 JA141 CS J. J. Ladkin

1868 JA141 CS Henry Bailey

23.11.1868 Lantern Henry Baily

{ Amy Adkins, servant }

1871 Census { Ann Clark, servant } no other occupants

{ Reuben Anderton, mail driver, lodger }

1874 C&B J. W. Loveitt
1878 LJ Vol 1 P28 John Whittem Loveitt
1879 Stevens John Whittam Loveitt

1881 C&B J. W. Loveitt

1886 C&B J. W. Loveitt
1886 LJ Vol 1 P28 John Whittem Loveitt
1886 LJ Vol 1 P28 Ernest Edward John Jones
1890/91 R&G J. E. F. Jones
1891 LJ Vol 1 P28 Ernest Edward John Jones
1891 LJ Vol 1 P28 Ernest Howard Branston
1893 Reporter E. Branston
1893 LJ Vol 1 P28 Ernest Howard Branston
1893 LJ Vol 1 P28 Arthur Bach
1894 R&G H. J. Smith (does not appear in Licensing Justices Register )
1894 LJ Vol 1 P28 Arthur Bach
1894 LJ Vol 1 P28 Harry Albert Whittem
1896 LJ Vol 1 P28 Harry Albert Whittem
1896 LJ Vol 1 P28 Percy Joseph Whittem
1896 R&G Percy Whittem
1898 LJ Vol 1 P28 Percy Joseph Whittem
1898 LJ Vol 1 P28 Frederick Stephen Franklin
1903 R&G G. E. Taylor Mrs Franklin manager

1909 R&G W. J. Osberne

1911/12 Spennell Walter J. Osberne

1912/13 Spennell Walter J. Osberne

1919 Spennell J. Hains

1924 P. James A. W. Brown

1926/27 P. James Licensee not named Horatio Nelson Inn

1933/34 P. James A. S. Lane White Lion Hotel

1935/36 P. James A. S. Lane White Lion Hotel

1937/38 P. James J. Lunn White Lion Hotel

1939/40 P. James J. Lunn White Lion Hotel

from 1939/40 Mr Moon

1953 LTSD

OWNERS

1878 LJ Vol 1 P28 Edward Wilson, Exhall House, Nr Coventry
later LJ Vol 1 P28 Ernest Edward John James
later LJ Vol 1 P28 Ind Coope & Co Ltd
1898 LJ Vol 1 P28 Ind Coope & Co Ltd

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