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A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Ashbourne: St. John Street & The Green Man
PC of street  1

The three storey coaching inn, the Green Man, is mid Georgian[1] ; it is on the right of the large hotel sign that dominates the street scene. It was constructed of red brick, with seven windows facing onto St. John Street on the first and second floors. In the centre of the ground floor is a slightly rounded arched entrance for coaches with a long yard running through to Dig Street. Pevsner (1950) mentions the "inn sign across the street and a picturesque little courtyard"[1] when he described the hotel, but not much more.

William Killingley (c 10 Apr 1729 - bu 29 Aug 1810) and his wife Mary, nee Litton (c 22 Jul 1737 - bu 18 Jun 1809), were probably the first to run the Green Man. William was already here when they were married by licence on 19 Apr 1756[2]. When they left they afterwards lived in Sturston for a time[3]. James Boswell, a Scottish biographer and diarist, was to give both the inn and Mrs. Killingley some welcome publicity[4].

From Boswell's life of Dr. Samuel Johnson[4]

In the summer of 1777 Johnson stayed with his old friend Dr. Taylor at Ashbourne from August 30th till October. James Boswell, who arrived as Dr. Taylor's guest on September 14th, has preserved a full record of his visit ; he left Ashbourne on September 24th. Both Johnson and Boswell stayed at The Mansion.

The extract on the right, describing Boswell's departure from the Green Man, has often been misinterpreted. Boswell went to the Green Man to catch a post chaise. Mrs. Killingley, who would have known both of Dr. Taylor's visitors, clearly fussed over him and took her chance at advertising her hotel.

"After breakfast I departed, and pursued my journey northwards. I took my post-chaise from the Green Man, a very good inn at Ashbourne, the mistress of which, a mighty civil gentlewoman, courtseying very low, presented me with an engraving of the sign of her house; to which she had subjoined, in her own hand-writing, an address in such singular simplicity of style, that I have preserved it pasted upon one of the boards of my original Journal at this time, and shall here insert it for the amusement of my readers:-

'M. KILLINGLEY's duty waits upon Mr. Boswell, is exceedingly obliged to him for this favour ; whenever he comes this way, hopes for a continuance of the same. Would Mr. Boswell name the house to his extensive acquaintance, it would be a singular favour conferr'd on one who has it not in her power to make any other return but her most grateful thanks, and sincerest prayers for his happiness in time, and in a blessed eternity.-Tuesday morn.' "[4]

The Green Man, like other large hotels in the county, served as a meeting place for official bodies, local groups, functions[5] and was also used for public auctions. In the later 18th century and for almost the whole of the 19th century there were two main families at the Green Man, the Woods and later the Wallis family.
See: Known licensees 1756 - 1939 (below)

Derby Mercury, 2 April 1823

Wednesday 26th inst at Ashbourne Mary Cowley, aged 65 years. She had lived upwards of 43 as Housekeeper in the families of the late, and present Mr. Wood, of the Green Man Inn, Ashborne, by whom, and her numerous friends, her death is deservedly and sincerely regretted.

The top image and the one immediately below are both early 20th century. The top picture, which is probably the slightly later one of the two, indicates that the Green Man had a garage and sold petrol as a couple of small signs are hanging down from the main "gallows-style" hotel sign; this garage was in Dig Street. The hotel entrance was lit by a gas lamp - it can be seen next to the hotel's sign, above.

The door and shop window of a Refreshment Rooms are behind the sign's left hand supporting pillar. Fry's Chocolates were sold on the premises. In the late 1950s and early 1960 the building had an Ashbourne News Telegraph sign on it and the shop was a private home. On the left of the top image we can see an old timber-framed building with a jettied first floor which was eventually demolished. The building that replaced it used the same roof line (image 4 below).

PC of street 2
The Green Man Ashbourne.
The top of hotel's three centred arch is not covered by a sign.
On the left in the image is Victoria Square and The Horns public house sign is easy to spot.

The Ashbourne Local History Group recorded that in 1825 the Green Man's then landlord (presumably John Wood - see below) bought up the inn's nearby rival, the Blackamoor's Head, and subsequently closed it down so added the sign to its own[5]; the new name was being used by 1827[6]. However, the Green Man's "rival" was also referred to as the Black's Head; an advertisement about letting the Toll Gates in 1823, shows they were to be auctioned at the house of Mr. Thompson, the Black's Head Inn, in Ashborne[7]. And more than one of the 1825 sale notices also used the shorter name[8].

The 'Royal' part of the title was apparently adopted after Princess Victoria briefly stopped there for refreshment in 1832[9].

PC of street 3
1926. The number plate of the car in the foreground was TC5861.
John Carriss Prince, Retailer of Beer, is on the sign above the hotel's arched entrance.
He was educated at Queen Elizabeth's and was President of the Old Ashburnian Society.

In March 1907 the permanent transfer of the Green Man's licence was granted Mr. J. C. Prince[10]. J. B. Firth (1908) believed that "the Green Man at Ashbourne belongs to a genial company of English Inns, which includes the Bull at Rochester, the Angel at Grantham, the Royal at Falmouth and many more ... Their like will never be built again, for it is obviously inconvenient to have the kitchens on one side of the main entrance and dining rooms on the other, with a draughty passage in between. The rooms, too, are low ceilinged and the bars are small. Yet I know of nothing in the shape of an inn at home or abroad which is so grateful to the eye of a traveller as the entrance to those inns which I have mentioned - never without a joint or game hanging from hooks overhead to give pleasant suggestion of robust dinner and robust appetite, good cheer, good welcome, and good speed"[11].

Shortly after the First War the hotel was on the market. It was described as a "Freehold First-class Family and Commercial Hotel in the centre of the market town and the principal hotel in a very large district. The accommodation included a Commercial Room (19ft 3in by 16ft), Bar and Snug, Smoke Room, two sitting rooms, Ladies' Waiting-room, Market Room, Coffee Room, Large Dining Room (52ft by 20ft), Large Ball-room or Bowling-green room (51ft by 37ft 6in) with large recess, 16 bedrooms, two larders, a store room, Butler's Pantry, large Kitchens, Bath Room, etc." The wine and beer cellarage was described as extensive with bottle room, store rooms, outside lavatories and other out-offices. There was also a large yard with two entrances from the main streets, eight loose boxes, stabling for 42 horses, excellent lofts and saddle rooms, two large carriage houses and garage with pit. Another lot included The Shawe Croft, over 4 acres of land adjoining the hotel[12]. The auctioneers were Messrs. W. S. Bagshaw. The auction was held on Saturday 8th Nov 1919 and the property was sold to the tenant, Mr. J. C. Prince, for £5,500[13].

PC of street, 4
Looking towards Church Street, possibly early 1950s[15].
The RAC sign beside the hotel's entrance has now been removed and Barclay's Bank, where
the female in the white mac was walking, is now closed.

We can see a dual entrance shop on the corner of Market Street in the fourth view; the business had been trading in Ashbourne for many years. Howell & Marsden, as The Post Office Tea Establishment, had first advertised in June and July, 1863[14]. John Howell retired from the business in 1899, leaving his partner Thomas Marsden to run it alone. Mr. Howell continued to live on Church Street[16]. Howell & Marsden Ltd was a freehold wholesale and retail grocery as well as a wine merchant; in 1934 they advertised Crosse and Blackwell's Branston Pickle in a county wide promotion[17]. It is unclear when the left hand of the two shops was rebuilt (it was the premises with the overhanging upper floor in the top image). However, in 1953 an auction notice was published for the sale of both the premises and the goodwill. The frontage onto St. John Street was then 74 feet and the total depth was 240 ft[18]. It was to become Bagnall's; the final transfer of the licence of Howell and Marsden, Grocers from Lionel Reginald Harris to John Reginald Bagnall took place in August the same year[19].

Finally, the hotel's sign, spanning the width of the street, is believed to be the longest in England. There have been a number of paintings of "the Green Man" over the years, hanging from the extra long sign above the centre of the road. The earliest one here, seen on the top two images on the page, depicts a male with a white horse. The third image is of a bearded male with a white hunting dog. Another sign, on an image published in 1935, shows a seated man with a moustache who is smoking a long pipe.

On the post war photo above, and enlarged right, is a painting of another huntsman, this time shooting game birds and with his gun dog ready to retrieve them.

These signs must have become a real nuisance for high sided vehicles and no suspended hanging sign is displayed outside the hotel today. Instead two images to remind people of the earlier signs, are displayed as roundels on the edge of the structure.

The Green Man is now (2023) known as the Greenman.

Known licensees 1756 - 1939

Name References - not all newspaper references are shown, just a selection to indicate when each person was running the hotel.
DM= Derby Mercury.
DDT=Derby Daily Telegraph.
William Killingley 1756 Innkeeper of Ashbourne on marriage licence (married 19 Apr 1756).
1759 DM 13 April - "Mr. William Killingley, [hotel] known by the Sign of the Green Man in Ashborne".
1778 DM 16 Oct } Tolls arising from the toll gate to be let by auction
1780 DM 6 Oct } at Mr Killingley's House the Green Man
1781 DM 27 September - last occasion at Green Man.
Francis Cutts 1782 DM 22 August.
--- 1783 DM 24 April - Sale of goods, bedding etc belonging to the Green Man. Does not give Cutts' name.
Jarvis Wood 1787 DM 08 November.
1792 DM 29 March (Mr. Wood).
1796 DM 24 November 1796.
1804 DM 05 January - Had been at the Green Man for 20 years.
Mr John Tarbutt 1811 DM 19 September.
1813 DM 23 September.
1820 DM 6 September.
John Wood
(son of Jarvis)
1822 DM 23 January.
1823 DM 9 July.
1827-9 Pigot's Directory.
1827-9 Glover's Directory.
William Hurd Wood (son in law of John) 1832 DM 21 March 1832.
John Brooks 1835 Pigot's Directory.
1837 DM 20 December 1837.
Robert Wallis 1840 DM 18 March.
1841 census Innkeeper, St. John's St, with wife Elizabeth 6 and son Thomas 2.
1850 Slater's Directory.
1851 census Innkeeper, St. John's St, 41 b Derby son Thomas 12, sister in law and staff and lodgers.
1857 White's Directory.
1860 Harrison's Directory.
1861 census Hotel keeper, St. John's St, 50 b Derby wife Fanny, 3 children, 4 servants (Robert died 5 Jan 1871).
Mrs. Fanny Wallis
(2nd wife of Robert)
1871 census Inn keeper, St. John's St, 36 b Wyaston, 5 children, 4 servants.
1874 Wright's Directory.
1881 Kelly's Directory.
1887 Kelly's Directory.
1891 Kelly's Directory.
1895 Kelly's Directory (Fanny d.6 Jul 1898).
Frank Stretton 1899 Kelly's Directory.
Samuel J Boden 1901 census St. John's Street, aged 34 b. Snelston.
1905 DDT 20 March 1905.
John Carriss Prince 1911 census Green Man Hotel, him Hotel Keeper, aged 31.
1928 Kelly's Directory Green Man & Black's Head Hotel, St. John's street.
Cecil F C Lockton 1939 Register Hotel Manager. Also a Special Constable.

Ashbourne is mentioned in the following on-site transcripts:

Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811, Parishes A, which has more about Ashbourne.

The Gentleman's Magazine Library, 1731-1868
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire - Pedigrees, Documents & Deeds : Surnames A - B | C - F | G - L | R - S | T - Z
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire - Charters, Documents & Deeds : Places A - B, mentions Ashbourne

1. "Ashbourne. St. John Street". Published by Photochrom Co. Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, Kent, No.38532. Unused. The Stamp box indicates it was pre 1918 : ½d postage stamp Foreign 1d.
2. "The Green Man, Ashbourne". Illustration by Nelly Erichsen, published in J. B. Firth's 1908 book[11].
3. "Ashbourne, Green Man Hotel". No publisher, Dated 1926 on the back with comments by the original owner.
4. "Ancient Sign, St. John Street, Ashbourne". A. W. Bourne, 32 Babington Drive, Leicester. Unused.
Small image of one sign is from image 4.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books.

[2] Staffordshire, Dioceses of Lichfield & Coventry marriage allegations and bonds. He was an Innkeeper, whilst Mary was a Spinster and married with consent of her mother.

[3] Will of Jane Litton of Ashbourne, Probate 13 Apr 1810, written 1st Feb 1805 with codicil dated 1809. [widow of John Litton and sister in law of Mary Killingley] "Three houses in Sturston ...now in the occupation of Edward Allen, Mary Killingly and William Cheadle".

[4] Extracts from Boswell, James (ed. Roger Inkpen) (1907) "The life of Samuel Johnson", Vol. 2 (19 Mar 1776 - 13 Dec 1784), Pitman & Sons, London.

[5] Ashbourne Local History Group (ed. and © Ashbourne Local History Group & Adrian Henstock) (1978) "Early Victorian Country Town", a Portrait of Ashbourne in the Mid Nineteenth Century. It was also referred to as the Black Moor's Head in the "Derby Mercury", 23 February 1825.

[6] The newly amalgamated name can been found in a few newspapers published in 1827.

[7] "Derby Mercury", 26 March 1823.

[8] "ibid.",8 June 1825. Advertised for sale. Mr. THompson was to remain in possession of the Inn until 6th July.

[9] Princess Victoria's visit is hard to pinpoint. She visited Alton Towers on her way from Chatsworth in 1832 on her way to Shugborough Hall, so this was possibly when she visited the town ("Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties", 26 October 1832).

[10] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 8 March 1907. Ashbourne Licensing Sessions.

[11] Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London. The Nelly Erichsen illustration provided above is from this book.

[12] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 1 and 7 November 1919. Sale notices.

[13] "ibid.", 15 November 1919.

[14] "ibid.", 3 July 1863. Mr. Howell retired

[15] The assumed date for this picture is because of a small Austin car at the Dig Street/church Street junction. The Austin A30 was a small family car produced by Austin from May 1952 to September 1956. It was launched at the 1951 Earls Court Motor Show as the "New Austin Seven" and was Austin's competitor with the Morris Minor.

[16] Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 27 October 1899. Notes and News.

[17] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 9 February 1934.

[18] "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", 23 May 1953.

[19] "Ashbourne Telegraph", 28 August 1953.

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