In 1769, the owner of the Bell Inn was Richard Davis. The inn, on the Turnpike Road from Worcester to London (now the High Street), was a stop for some of the stage coaches (chaises). In addition to providing accommodation for passengers and drivers, the inn also provided stabling. Richard Davis employed his own coach drivers and also kept his own horses – additional horses were sometime needed to pull the coaches up Fish Hill1 out of Broadway2. In 1788, coaches from the Chaise Line (run by Thomas Kirkby, Chapel House, Worcester) that used the Bell Inn included:
- The Two-Day Coach: departed The Bell in Broad Street, Worcester, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning stopping at The Bell in Broadway at 10am for passengers to “drink tea” and to change horses. The coach returned from London calling at the Bell Inn, Broadway, at 1pm for lunch every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
- The Old Fly: departed the Coach Office in Worcester every day of the week except Thursday. It stopped at 5pm the Bell Inn, Broadway, for passenger to “during tea” and to change horses. It returned every day of the week except Friday stopping at the Bell Inn, Broadway, at 5am.
- The Mail Coach: departed the Hop Pole, Worcester, every evening and stopped at the Bell Inn, Broadway, at 6pm. It returned every morning at 9am, stopping at the Bell Inn, Broadway, to change horses in both directions and load and off load mail.
On 23 April 1790, Thomas Bolton purchased the Inn. It was announced in the Oxford Journal, 1 May 1790:
Thomas Bolton, late Waiter from the King’s Head. Gloucester, having purchased and entered upon the above Inn, most respectfully informs the Nobility, Gentry and Publick, that the said Inn is elegantly and commodiously fitted up for their Reception; and assures, as well the Friends of his Predecessor, as his own Friends, and the Publick, that he is determined to exert his utmost endeavours to furnish them with good Accommodations, the best Wines, and every other Article, on the most reasonable Terms; humbly hoping, by his Assiduity, to merit their Protection and Support. – Good Stall Stabling; and neat Post Chaises on the shortest Notice.
N.B. The Aurora, or Morning Coach, Breakfasts at the above Inn, every Morning at Seven o’Clock; and on the Return drinks every Tea every Evening at Six, Sundays excepted. – Likewise the Mail Coach stops at the above Inn, both going to London and coming back. – The greatest Care will be taken of Parcels, and forwarded, as directed, with Expedition.
By 1800 the inn had been sold and it became a school, a Ladies Academy, run by Mrs Smith, who rented the house. In early 1809 the house was put up for auction (with Mrs Smith as tenant):
Publication: Worcester Journal, 9 March 1809:
To be sold by Auction by T. Jarrett, at the White Hart Inn in Broadway, in the county of Worcestershire, on Wednesday the 22nd day of March inst. between the hours of three and four of the clock in the afteroon:
Lot I. – All that capital stone-built MANSION, situate in the centre of Broadway aforesaid, with the Garden and Appurtenances thereunto belonging, formerly known by the name of the Bell Inn, but now and for several years past used as an Academy, in the occupation of Mrs Smith, tenant as writ.
Lot II. – Two good Stables, with spacious Granaries over the same, near to Lot I; one thereof in the possession of Mrs Smith, and the other in hand
Lot III. – Two other Stables in the possession of Mr. Griffiths, Attorney, tenant at will.
Alongside the school (which was run as a ladies seminary from 1809-1820), the house became an inn again and was owned by Thomas Ashwin until his death, aged 47, in 1839. An auction of some of the contents of the inn (mainly furniture) were sold on 11 February 1840.
William Ashwin then took over as innkeeper and in 1862, the licence for the Bell Inn was transferred to Mrs Lucy Ashwin.
In 1867, Sir Thomas Phillips purchased the property and turned into a private house.
- Fish Hill was known as Broadway Hill until 1755. In 1757 a major expansion of the turnpike road system took place which was controlled by the Evesham Turnpike Trust. At this time, the turnpike road from the top of Fish Hill was extended to include Bourton on the Hill – the A44 road as we know it today.
- Horses were available in Broadway to provide additional pulling power if required. As turnpikes become more regulated more than four horses were strongly discouraged and tolls charged accordingly. 6 horses was the maximum allowed with the exception of 10 horses that could be used from the White Hart Inn (now the Lygon Arms) following approval granted by the Worcester Quarter Sessions in July 1952.
For more information about the coaching route to London and the Turnpike Roads see: The Way to London – Vale of Evesham Roads, 1350-1880.