Coach & Horses (Bruton Street)
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The Coach and Horses’ beautiful exterior stain glass windows marks this pub as one that is hard to miss. The pub was once connected at the first floor to another building. However, after its neighbour received considerable damage, the original building had to be pulled down. It was later rebuilt in 1933 for William Younger & Co.
The Coach and Horses is one of the best-known British pub names. In London alone there are still over fifty Coach and Horses pubs. For many centuries, prior to the invention of the railway systems, horse drawn carriages were the only means of travelling between towns and cities. Most famously in London, hackney carriages became an essential part of life. These consisted of a horse and carriage and licensed for hire since 1662, their job was to whisk city folk about their business both day and night before they were succeeded by the Hansom Cab. The Hansom cab was a variant of horse-drawn carriage designed and patented in 1834 by York born architect Joseph Hansom.
The innkeeper would advertise this with a sign depicting both a coach and a horse, indicating that not only the place have everything the tiresome passengers could wish for, but even provided lodgings for the exhausted mounts, allowing them to be fed and watered ready for the long journey ahead. Not content with this rather prosaic explanation of the name, the landlords of Coach and Horses pubs across Britain have been known to regale their customers with a rather different story. The story goes that an eighteenth century coach pulled along by four horses was driven by a ghostly figure. Those who witnessed the ghoulish happenings describe that as the coach came closer, the driver was headless! If this did not whet the appetite of ghost story enthusiasts, it was also described that the passengers of this supernatural coach were staring through the windows with their skull like faces!
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