Trawling through the Gentleman’s Magazine for July 1792 I came across a lovely letter to the Editor, giving details of a coach trip in 1719, leaving London on 18th May for Carlisle. It lists every overnight stop – and although the same pubs and Inns seem to attract the identical comment on different visits, it is an interesting comment on the precursor of “motorway hospitality”. Think of it as a 1719 version of Tripadvisor.
The article continues:
I love the distinction between “mean but honest” houses and those with “intolerably small beds” or those with a “very negligent Landlord and Landlady”! And it is fascinating to see how the writer of the letter could declare that he now lived “in a flying age” compared to his 1719 predecessor – a reminder of the huge improvements made in the main highways such as the Great North Road, accompanied by faster, lighter carriages complete with springs. Gone were the cumbersome dreadnoughts of eighty years earlier – and suddenly a mere twenty three miles a day seemed positively pedestrian. And the idea that travel stopped on the Sabbath – love it!
It is also interesting to consider how many of the coaching inns are still in business – I don’t suppose the Bell at Stilton was too keen at its bills being called “extravagant” but at least the meal was good and it is still going strong three centuries later. I am dubious as to whether the “Eelpye house at Newark is still in business, but no doubt there is a Newark resident out there who can put me right!