National Trust Kings Head Inn

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The King’s Head Inn is notable as being one of the oldest public houses with a coaching yard in the south of England. It is located in the Market Square, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

The oldest part of the current structure of the building is of 15th century design, however the cellars are much older, dating back to the 13th century, and may have been part of the local friary.

The history of the King’s Head starts in 1455, with reference to the ‘Kyngeshede’. The Great Hall is the oldest standing structure on site, dating back to the 1470s, and was built as a guest house by the Verney family (of nearby Claydon House). King Henry VI possibly stayed at the inn while on a tour of the country with his new wife Margaret of Anjou in the 15th century. Later, a stained glass panel, previously in the nearby Greyfriars monastery, was inserted in the front window of the inn showing the king and queen’s individual coats of arms. The other coats of arms are of Cardinal Henry Beaufort, William de la Pole and the local Botlier family. That window is still there, though it is heavily protected.

In the Great Hall, the wattle and daub timber construction can be seen on display. Wattle was twigs and branches woven between the upright timber posts. Daub was the name given to clay, lime and horsehair pushed into the wattle frame forming a weatherproof surface. A rare surviving clock decorates the wall, and is a Tavern clock, which is also known as an Act of Parliament clock. In 1797, William Pitt the Younger introduced a tax on all clocks & watches. Because of this public clocks such as these became much more popular to check the time of day. The bar was installed by the Rothschild family who had acquired the property as a hotel in the 1800s. In the snug next to the bar is an example of Victorian wallpaper that would once have covered the whole room. In the late seventeenth-century, the King’s Head began taking delivery of mail, which was dropped by horsemen through a hatch behind the mirrors. The room is called the ‘Glue Pot’ as mail was once sorted and stamped here.

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