Four Crosses Inn, Staffordshire

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The heyday of the Four Crosses Inn seems to have been in the 18th century.  Its location on the Watling Street made it an important stopping off point on the journey from London to Ireland. People travelling from London tended to sleep at Birmingham, dine at the Four Crosses and then sleep again at Newport, before going on to Chester the following day.

The inn, which was owned by Lord Hatherton’s father, Moreton Walhouse, was sometimes a sleeping place as well. Lord Hatherton recorded in his journal that, “the Duke of Cumberland and Lady Grosvenor took their quarters there for the first night in their flight from Eaton”.

William Henry, Duke of Cumberland, the youngest surviving brother of King George III, was accused of adultery with Lady Grosvenor in 1770, when both were about 24 years old. The beautiful Lady Grosvenor had been married to Lord Grosvenor for about five years. Their love letters, read out in court, showed that they met each other in various places in London.

When Lord Grosvenor took her away to Eaton Hall, in Cheshire, the Duke followed them and lived incognito in various pubs, meeting her in the fields. On their “flight” from Eaton, they travelled together as man and wife. Different innkeepers were produced as witnesses in court. They said that the Duke always in disguise, with a dark brown wig pulled down his forehead and over his ears. He travelled with two servants, the trio calling each other John, Farmer Tush and “the Squire”.

I do not know if the landlord of the Four Crosses was one of witnesses in the sensational trial but, with or without his evidence, the Duke was found guilty and Lord Grosvenor was awarded 10,000 damages.

The Four Crosses important role as a provider of accomodation and horses for transport on the road from London to Chester and Ireland came to an end with the coming of the railways. It appears, from Lord Hatherton's journal that the Four Crosses held out until 1861.

 

Lord Hatherton's Journal, 17th April, 1861

 

With Rogers (Lord Hatherton's woodsman) to Four Crosses. At the Four Crosses we ‘had something to drink’ for the honour of the old inn and to please the landlord who was shocked at me asking for ale and porter and Mr Rogers for brandy. The beverages were both excellent – the ale quite superior.

The innkeeper (Lovatt), a very respectable, hard working man took some ale with us and then said he had a favour to ask of me, that he might give up posting. He had in his time kept post horses, some three or four pairs of them, had horsed coaches and, after the railroads had stopped that traffic he still kept a fly to carry people to and from the stations. Mr Giffard of Chillington till the last had had his post horses from the Four Crosses and Ivetsy Bank. I, of course, assented. But here was an end of the last effort to maintain posting on the old Roman and Saxon Road.

 

 
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