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Wiltshire Community History

Wiltshire History Questions Search Results

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Question Date :

Sunday 19th January 2003 16:32

Question:
An ancestor of mine is listed as being a servant at the Lansdowne Arms in Calne on a 19th century census. Could you tell me something about the Lansdowne Arms please?

Answer:
It is believed that the inn that is now known as the Lansdowne Strand Hotel was built or rebuilt in the early 18th century, possibly in 1707 when the London to Bristol road through the town was turnpiked. This building is likely to have been in anticipation of increased trade for the road. At that time the inn was known as the Catherine Wheel or, more often, just the Wheel. A Catherine Wheel in Calne was first mentioned in 1660 and it may well have been on, or near, this site. The name is likely to have been newly given in that year of the restoration of Charles II, as this was an inn name disliked by the Puritans as it commemorated the martyrdom of St. Catherine, whose body was broken on the wheel. If it was in existence before the execution of Charles I it would have been renamed the Cat and Wheel during the Commonwealth period.

The 18th century inn had a carriage arch built around 1748 to allow coaches through to the rear of the premises and by 1764 the building was its present length. Between 1822 and 1828 the inn was renamed the Lansdowne Arms, in hour of the Marquess of Lansdowne whose seat is at Bowood, just to the east of the town. There is still a large rear courtyard with coach houses, stables, a possible malthouse and a 3 storey mid 19th century brewery. A large inn such as this required many servants, both inside and outside, to serve the guests, brew and cook, care for the cellars, prepare rooms, look after horses and carriages, drive coaches and other vehicles, etc. The Lansdowne Arms was the principle inn of the town.

Bibliography:
A History of the County of Wiltshire, Volume 17, edited by D.A. Crowley. The Institute for Historical Research, 2002, 1 904356 01 X

Pub Names of Britain, by Leslie Dunkling and Gordon Wright. J.M. Dent, 1987, 0 460 86213 8

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