Friday, 14 September 2012

Old Swan House History

Old Swan House and King's Head House
'Until 1869 Old Swan House and King's Head House together formed the Swan Inn. Then the building was sold in two halves. The name King's Head House might suggest that it was once the King's Head Inn, but this name is relatively recent. It may refer to the fact that in 1688 King James II dined at the Swan Inn on his way to encounter the newly landed William of Orange*.

The Swan Inn was a coaching inn, providing accommodation, refreshments and fresh horses to travellers. The difference in appearance in the two ends of what was once a single building is the result of a major alteration during the Victorian period when the eastern end was modified to fit the current fashions. The bricks were faced with stucco to simulate stone pillars and stone window lintels while the windows were reduced in size.'

From A Portrait of Stockbridge by Hugh Saxton, published in 2000

It's not certain when The Swan was built, but it was apparently owned by Winchester College in the reign of Henry VI, so it's at least 550 years old.

In April 1688, James re-issued the Declaration of Indulgence, subsequently ordering Anglican clergymen to read it in their churches. When seven Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, submitted a petition requesting the reconsideration of the King's religious policies, they were arrested and tried for seditious libel. Public alarm increased when Queen Mary gave birth to a Roman Catholic son and heir, James Francis Edward on 10 June of that year. When James's only possible successors were his two Protestant daughters, Anglicans could see his pro-Catholic policies as a temporary phenomenon, but when the Prince's birth opened the possibility of a permanent Catholic dynasty, such men had to reconsider their position. Threatened by a Catholic dynasty, several influential Protestants claimed the child was "supposititious" and had been smuggled into the Queen's bedchamber in a warming pan. They had already entered into negotiations with William, Prince of Orange, when it became known the Queen was pregnant, and the birth of James's son reinforced their convictions.

On 30 June 1688, a group of seven Protestant nobles invited the Prince of Orange to come to England with an army. By September, it had become clear that William sought to invade. Believing that his own army would be adequate, James refused the assistance of Louis XIV, fearing that the English would oppose French intervention. When William arrived on 5 November 1688, many Protestant officers, including Churchill,  defected and joined William, as did James's own daughter, Princess Anne. James lost his nerve and declined to attack the invading army, despite his army's numerical superiority. On 11 December, James tried to flee to France, allegedly first throwing the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames. He was captured in Kent; later, he was released and placed under Dutch protective guard. Having no desire to make James a martyr, the Prince of Orange let him escape on 23 December. James was received by his cousin and ally, Louis XIV, who offered him a palace and a pension. Wikipedia

It's interesting to note that the house was built at the same time as this famous painting but Piero Della Francesca - the Baptism of Christ 

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