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Notes by Dylan Jonas, September 1981
The Swan
with historical notes on Higham Ferrers

in 2010
The Swan in 2011 was called JJs

Higham Ferrers is an ancient and notable Northamptonshire parish, owned in 1086 by William Peverel, passing through the hands of the Earls of Derby, Lancaster and Ferersham, to the Wentworth family by 1610.

The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1556, and it continued to return a Member of Parliament to Westminster until the Great Reform Act of 1832.

Two famous sons of Higham Ferrers are Archbishop Chichele, the founder of All Souls College, Oxford, and the novelist, H E Bates. [the latter was actually born at Rushden, but spent much time of his boyhood at Higham Ferrers, with his grandfather Lucas].


Jane Lawrence is the first recorded landlandy of the Swan


John Sanderson ran the inn. He supplemented his takings by continuing to work as a coal merchant and farmer. Among the terms of his licence was the clause stating that he should not “knowingly introduce, permit, or suffer any Bull, Bear or Badger-baiting, cock-fighting or other such amusements in any part of his premises.”

The population at this time was 1,140.


John Lamb took over, in competition with nine other licensed premises in the town. The principal landowner was the Hon. G Wentworth-Fitzwilliam.


George Kilsby began his 24 year tenancy. There was no public water supply, but Gas company lighting had been installed by 1885. In 1890, the 1565 acres of the parish had a rateable value of £6,005.

The Swan was demolished, following a fire, and rebuilt.


Herbert Lines started his family’s 57 year association with the Swan Inn. The population had risen to 1,810 but Higham Ferrers was still described thus:

“The town consists chiefly of one street about a mile long, with a market place.”

At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, there were a dozen beer houses in the town.


Mrs Annie Lines was tenant of the Swan. By 1921 there were 3,201 residents, and in the 1930s the Duchy of Lancaster was the major landowner. In 1940 there were only seven licensed premises in the town – remarkably, a figure below that of a century earlier.


Cyril Gould succeeded the Lines Family.


Neville Yates enjoyed a brief tenancy.


Robert Roffey ran the Inn for half a dozen years.


Peter Bain, the present, and only the tenth recorded landlord in a 161 years period, came to the Swan, one of the oldest established alehouses in this historic rural market town.

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