Although the Crown Inn in Daventry Street is not as old as The Olde Mint, it is one of the oldest buildings in Southam.
The Crown survived a fire in 1657 and at least two later fires, along with the two adjacent cottages – Nos 4 and 3 Daventry Street, (now a Podiatry clinic with a residential flat above). The cottages are probably of similar date and for many years were owned by the proprietors of The Crown. The Crown is a Grade 2 listed building; its listing suggests a date of around 1750, but that is almost certainly a century too late.
The only clear evidence of date that we have for this group of terraced buildings relates to No 4. We believe that this property dates back to the 1630s. The timbers are of elm, and unfortunately this rules out dendrochronology because, unlike oak, elm does not produce reliable or distinguishable tree rings. However, a specialist in old buildings has examined structural features in No 4 thoroughly and has come up with the 1630s as the most probable decade of construction.
There is evidence in the roof structure of two Queen struts (large vertical timbers supporting the roof). These have been removed and replaced with 45 degree struts, probably when the roof space was converted into a room, but the mortises of the Queen struts are clearly visible. Other evidence of date is seen in the straight windbraces, trenched purlins and carpenter’s marks. The timbers appear to be pit sawn and the joists are mounted on edge. The apex of the A-frame roof timbers does not reach the ridge of the current tiled roof suggesting that the roof was once thatched.
On the bressumer (load bearing beam) over the inglenook fireplace there is one clear taper burn mark (see photo) and some evidence of a second. These marks were made in the superstitious belief that they would protect the house from destruction by fire (rather as ‘witch marks’ were used to protect inhabitants from witchcraft).
The Crown Inn itself was used in 1837 as a venue from which other properties in Southam were sold. At this time, the pub was owned by Mr William Pratt. It was still owned by a member of the Pratt family in 1962 when Emma Pratt sold it with the adjacent cottages Nos 3, 4 and 5 to Phipps brewery, for £5,250. The sale included the brewhouse, stable yard, garden and outbuildings, and old maps of Southam show a well in the yard. No. 5 now forms part of the Crown Inn.
The photographs show The Crown Inn and adjacent cottages circa 1900 and a taper burn mark and carpenter’s mark from timbers within No 4 Daventry Street. To find out more about your town’s history please see our website www.southamheritage.org or visit the museum (when open). We are located in the atrium of Tithe Place opposite the Library entrance, and we also present informative displays in our High Street facing window. We are seeking new volunteers with an interest in local history. To get in touch, please telephone 01926 613503 email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us via our Facebook page: Southam Heritage Collection.