Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

Swan, up

I’m always telling people to look up, an activity that, on the streets of Leighton Buzzard on Sunday, was somewhat perilous. Because there was lots going on, the place was very crowded, and anyone glancing upwards for a moment risked colliding with fellow passers-by. I just about avoided major impacts, and the wrath of the queue for the ice-cream van, to take this picture of the swan, high up at parapet level, on the eponymous hotel in the High Street.

I was impressed by this swan, red-beaked and footed, wings lifted, and feathers delineated, although it’s not a white as it might be. It reminded me of the lovely swan in Boston, Lincolnshire, marking the building that was once Anderson’s (later Fogarty’s) feather factory. Leighton’s Swan Hotel is an imposing building of the early-to-mid-19th century but there was a Swan Inn or Hotel there long before this, stopping place for coaches, source of much hospitality, and place where numerous auction sales and market deals took place.

It seems the facade has looked spick and span since the Wetherspoon’s chain took it over a few years ago, and it’s good to see its neat pale plasterwork and red lettering proclaiming its name and still, above the courtyard access to one side, advertising it as a ‘posting house’. It would be even better if the owners could get someone up there to remove the green growths and make looking up at the swan more rewarding still.


Hels said...

It always appeals to me when a Victorian building has the name of a home/symbol of a business is inscribed in the centrally located pediment. If the date is also inscribed, that too adds to the historical significance.

That The Swan was a stopping place for coaches, and a supplier of food and alcohol made perfect sense. Being a place fir auction sales and market deals was less expected.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: This was not unusual. Inns and hotels like this, sited right on the market place, were ideal venues for these sorts of events. They hired rooms, so if you wanted to do a business deal you could do so in privacy and comfort. They also had - and have - larger public rooms where auctions could be held. Even Coroner's inquests were sometimes held in inns in towns that didn't have a purpose-built courthouse.

bazza said...

One of the things I appreciate about Wetherspoons is the way they tend not to make all of their acquisitions uniform in appearance, usually retaining the essence of what is already there. One major thing I have really taken on board from your Blog is to look up in the presence of interesting buidings!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’