The King's Head Inn, Market Square, Aylesbury, England
The King's Head is one of the oldest public houses with a coaching yard in the south of England. It is located in the Market Square, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and is a Grade II* Listed Building, the oldest part of the building being of 15th-century design; however, the cellars are much older, dating back to the 13th century, and may have been part of the local friary. The property was part of the Buckinghamshire estates of Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915) which passed to his son, the Hon. Nathaniel Charles Rothschild (1877-1923). In 1925, the King’s Head Inn, (together with the Manor House, Princes Risborough), was given to nation by Charles’ family in his memory.
The first documentary reference to The King's Head is in 1455, appearing in a conveyance between William Wandeford, a London wool merchant, and Ralph Verney, a former master of the London Mercer's Company. King Henry VI possibly stayed at the inn while on a tour of the country with his new wife Margaret of Anjou in the 15th century. From the mid-17th century onwards, The King's Head thrived as a coaching inn. In c.1750, innkeeper William Bell converted the cottages (now the public house) to accommodate stagecoaches with room upstairs for his servants. The enclosure of the courtyard with additional stables to the one at the rear, which dates back to the late 16th century, provided housing for nearly thirty horses. In the late 17th century, The King's Head began taking delivery of mail. One of the grandest rooms at The King's Head is the Gatehouse Chamber. This dates from the mid-16th century but, in the 17th century, Assize Courts met here to discuss criminal cases. Judges would announce their verdicts out of the front window of the chamber, which would have then overlooked the Market Square. The main feature of the room is the ceiling, which is the work of the Victorian architect George Devey who was commissioned by the Rothschild family in the 1880s to undertake changes to The King's Head. He was responsible for offsetting the front window to retain the view of the Market Square. He also remodelled the ceiling in a Victorian mock Tudor style using some of the original beams, and added oak panels to the Dining Room.
A rare surviving clock decorates the wall, a Tavern clock, also known as an Act of Parliament clock. In 1797, William Pitt the Younger introduced a tax on all clocks and watches and public clocks such as these became much more popular to check the time of day. The bar was installed by the Rothschild family who had acquired the property as a hotel in the 19th century.
The National Trust
After a number of years serving as a hotel, the property was donated to the National Trust in 1925; visitors are still able to go to the inn, which still functions as an English public house.Return to Estates listing