Grantham has been a stopping off point for those travelling north and south for a millennium. It sits close to Ermine Street Roman road, and it is firmly on the route which became the Great North Road of the coaching era.
The Angel Inn traces its roots back to a hostel built in 1203 by the Knights Templar; this was a military/religious order which supported those fighting the Crusades or choosing to visit the Holy Land as pilgrims. By the 14th century the site was being operated as an inn, attracting a succession of high-profile visitors.
Development of postal services and the coaching trade brought a dramatic increase in the demand for inns and stabling. The Angel Inn handled the post for Grantham from the 16th century to the early 19th century. The postmaster in 1642 was Richard Leeming, the tenant of the Angel Inn and Alderman in 1666. He was appointed to serve ‘the King’s through post at Grantham’ at a salary of 1s 8d a day.
The Angel Inn was significantly extended in the late 18th century after it was purchased by the Cust family. By this time there were coaches to “York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Scarborough, Whitby, Carlisle and all parts of the north”. Other inns in Grantham also prospered. The leading hostelries included the White Lyon, Red Lyon, the Crown and the George. In 1686 a War Office return recorded 285 guest beds in the town and stabling for 351 horses. By 1756 Grantham boasted 40 inns and victuallers.
The Angel was permitted extended licencing hours, remaining open as long as they wished until every bed was filled (rather than the normal 4am to 10pm!). In 1706, when Michael Soloman (the Angel’s landlord) died, he left a legacy of 40s a year to be paid for the preaching of an annual sermon against the evils of drunkenness each Michaelmas Day.