Well, that's me outside The Three Swans in Market Harborough last Monday night. We made it at last! However, lack of preparation on our part meant that we had no-one turn up to meet us again, but we'll go into that later. But we still had a good night (even though my son couldn't have a drink as he was driving. More on that later too). Now back to the pub.
The Three Swans was one of five coaching inns in Market Harborough (the other four being The Hind Hotel, The Peacock, The Angel and The Talbot) and was first mentioned in a will in 1517. Originally known as The Swanne, it changed it's name in 1790 to The Three Swans, presumably because the original sign, with one Swan (described as "the finest in all England"), had two more added in 1780.
The story goes that, at some point in the 18th century, a gentlemen in red hunting dress climbed out of a window upstairs during a wild party and sat on one of the swans on the sign which promptly snapped and fell to the ground taking the poor unfortunate hunter with it where the beak, "reportedly" , pierced his heart and he died!
So, yeah, No drinking. On the mother of all pub crawls, I wasn't drinking... It was my dads birthday, and mum was due in hospital on the Wednesday for her second hip replacement. Things have been pretty hectic just lately. I've been working all hours for a promotion, and dad has been taking care of mum, so YOIS pub crawl had been pushed to the back of our minds/lives, so as a likkle birthday treat for dad, I offered to drive just so we could get in another pub before mums op, and it was his birthday, and I had to be up at sparrow fart the next day as I was on earlies, so driving did seem the obvious choice. I really wanted to visit the next pub, so if that meant being on the wagon, so be it, but, with Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer, as my witness, I vow, from this moment on, never to be sober on this pub crawl again. I have let you down, and I have let myself down, and for that, I am truly sorry....
ANYWAY!!! Moving on... we were on a limited time-scale as we didn't get there til 8, so I got straight on with some photos and sightseeing, and the place is HUGE! we parked at the back of the pub, and had to walk past a restaurant, hotel, dining area, and down a drive way to get to the front door. It's a very well kept, attractive place. We arrived at night, and all the Christmas decs lit up the courtyard, all very picturesque. So far, so good...
Back to the history. Nah, screw that for a bit. As Clint said, the place looks pretty good, even if it was dark. To draw a comparison with the Bears Head, Brereton, these were both coaching inns (admittedly, one in the middle of nowhere and one in a busy town centre) which had now had hotels built on to them, but, where the owners had made a complete pigs ear of the Bears Head, this pub has been done skilfully and tastefully.
The Restaurant, patio and general appearance of the building are very pleasing to the eye and fit in with the surrounding buildings very well. The upstairs has been modelled in keeping with the rest of the place, even showing a cut-out in the wall of the original wattle and daub plaster at the top of the stairs. (we both had a good look, and we had a good chat about it, however, we both neglected to get a picture) (what a pair of numpties! We've gone there to record stuff, seen something interesting, chatted about it and then NOT took a picture!)
Any road up! (local South Derbyshire saying). We went in, ordered a beer (a Coffee) and had a look round. What I liked about the place was that it was like a proper pub, not too many customers (it was Monday night) but it was warm, friendly and welcoming.There were about 5 or 6 people in, one being a chap stood at the bar on his own. After a few minutes I took the bull by the horns and introduced myself. Turned out to be a good move...........
We got settled in for the night, propping up the bar, with a coffee, (a beer) and started to introduce ourselves to the locals. We had some good and bad luck, as the local history expert had stood us up, (which may be a recurring theme) but we were stood next to a local, lived there all his life, and knew a little bit of the life and times of the Three Swans. What did surprise me, was the knowledge of the two young bar staff, both twenty some-things, and both of them had picked up some tales from somewhere, and both proved to be interesting and knowledgeable. They told us of the ghost, Mr Jonathan Fothergill.
Spooky!!! Well, we've been doing this for four hours now, believe it or not, and we've consumed too much Stella to carry on tonight (it's four minutes past midnight) so we'll leave it at that and carry on in a day or two with more details of Mr Fothergill, more history and a couple of laughs. In the meantime we'll have yet another Stella. Cheers!!!!!