The Abergavenny Arms Hotel

1450

The Abergavenny Arms Hotel was built during the first reign of Henry VI (1422 – 1461) in the year 1450 and was known then as the ‘Apsis’. The ‘Apsis’ was no more than a simple timber framed thatched hut, with a bush hung out on a pole whenever fresh ale was brewed.  Customers could then hope to judge how sour their drink was likely to taste from how much the bush had shrivelled.  The first recorded keeper of the ‘Apsis’ was one William Appes, a former disciple of the Kentish rebel leader, Jack Cade, who in 1450, with his raggle-taggle band of followers marched on London in an attempt to overthrow the King’s government.

Some-time during the late sixteenth century, the ‘Apsis’ became the ‘Bull’. At this time the building was enlarged and from then on until the eighteenth century, what is now the lounge was utilised as the parish courtroom, where miscreants charged with crimes ranging from drunkenness to sheep -stealing , the latter then carried a sentence of death, were lodged in the cells below to await their fate. Legend has it that the yew tree that once stood opposite was a ‘hanging yew’ and that sheep-stealers and the like were hung and left as an example to other wrongdoers. The cells, which still exist today, were in use as late as the nineteenth century.

In 1705, commodious stables were built on what is now the car park and in the mid-eighteenth century at the height of the coaching era, the ‘Bull’ was an established coach and stage posting house, offering good accommodation and fresh horses.

In 1770, a coachman on an overnight stay, dies whilst asleep in his bunk.  The law of the land decreed then that should a death occur within a licensed premises, that premises must close, and stay closed until an inquest can be carried out.  Being conversant with the law, the innkeeper upon finding the poor soul and having no wish to close his premises and lose valuable profits, threw the body out of the window and reported a suicide case to the authorities.  Now the coachman celebrates the anniversary of his death by returning every year to haunt the resident Innkeeper.

In 1823, the ‘Bull’ became the ‘Abergavenny Arms’ in honour of Lord Abergavenny, who owned the property until 1933.  The crest of the Abergavenny family bears the head of a bull which would account for the name of the Inn of over 200 years.

© Abergavenny Arms 2019  •   Frant Rd, Tunbridge Wells, East Sussex TN3 9DB   •   Tel: 01892 750233