The courtyard of the Old Blue Boar tavern in Holborn, London, England, – from an old engraving c. 1700
The George and Blue Boar, Holborn was a medieval inn with some interesting historic connections. Prisoners on their way to the gallows at Tyburn would stop here for a last drink.
After a tip-off in 1647 Cromwell, with son-in-law Ireton, visited the George and Blue Boar dressed as troopers. They supped beer whilst waiting for the arrival of a messenger who was carrying a letter from the King to his wife. The letter made clear that Charles I had no intention of reaching any accommodation with the generals. His fate was set.
As a London coaching inn it was the point of departure for the Stamford Regent. The journey to Stamford took about 12 hours. The notice below announces plans to reschedule from an over-night to a day-time service in 1822.
Charles Birch-Reynardson reminisces in 1875 about an early morning departure from the George and Blue Boar:
Piles of luggage are being placed on the top and into the fore and hind boot of the coach. Where the luggage for ‘ four in and twelve out ‘ used to go I will leave you to make out, for I never could. But go it did ; and, having stowed our load away, we go out of the yard, down Holborn Hill, to the left up Cow Lane, through Smithfield, and make the best of our way to the ‘Peacock’ at Islington, meeting droves of bullocks, sheep, and all sorts of conveyances coming from Smithfield. But we have arrived safely, neither upsetting anyone nor being upset ourselves. At this I often wondered, for the steam from the horses, the breath from the horses, the cattle, and the sheep, added to the dimness of the lamps and the dense fog, turned everything into worse than darkness. You might as well have looked inside a stewpan for any- thing that could be seen. ‘ Darkness in fact was visible.’ Everything else was invisible through the darkness of early morn and the fog.
Having achieved the ‘Peacock’ at Islington, a sight only to be seen there, and in those days, awaits us. A noise, I will call it a ‘sonus quadrupedans,’ assails your ears, as coach after coach comes up. All coaches going- anywhere north called there; and, as they came up the old hostler, or a man whoever he was, with a horn lantern, called out their names as they arrived on the scene. Up they come through the fog, but our old friend knows them all. Now ‘York Highflier,’ now ‘Leeds Union,’ now ‘York Express,’ now ‘Rocking- ham,’ now ‘ Stamford Regent,’ now ‘ Truth and Day- light,’ and others which I forget, all with their lamps lit, and all smoking and steaming, so that you could hardly see the horses. Off they go. One by one as they get their vacant places filled up, the guard on one playing ‘ Off she goes ! ‘ on another, ‘ Oh, dear, what can the matter be; ‘ on another, ‘ When from great Londonderry ; ‘ on another, ‘ The flaxen-headed ploughboy ; ‘ in fact, all playing different tunes almost at the same time.
The Science Museum holds a parcel receipt for a delivery to Robert Stephenson, suggesting he was staying at the inn in March 1853. Perhaps he was planning yet more railways to ensure the final demise of the coaching business, though by this stage of his illustrious career his attentions often focused on Europe and North America.
The old inn was demolished in the later in the 19th century making way for the Inns of Court Hotel.