TYDEMAN, The Four Swans, Waltham Cross

June, 2011



Waltham Cross

Detail from post card by E. Gordon Smith

Nick Blake (nblakecreatesdesign @t hotmail.com) of Canterbury, asked about the Four Swans Inn, Waltham Cross, and its destruction, and later provided the following background information:

My great grandfather, Joseph Tydeman, was licensee in the late 19th century. I have picked up on line that he was born in 1844 at Chelmsford. He married in 1865. Apparently it was a bit of a shock to the family to have a "publican" in the family. He was described as publican and land agent. In 1881 he was landlord of the Two Blue Posts in Holborn. His daughter Kate seemed to marry a Fishpool ... shop just across the road from Four Swans.

My grandfather, Arthur Richard Blake b 1868 married Lily Tydeman Joseph's daughter b 1867. Richard Blake was farming at the Medcalf Dairy Farm Medcalf Road Enfield Lock in the 1900's maybe until the 1920's. It was the last Victorian c 1860 semi house on the right driving down ,west side. The farm building still exists converted to a flat. It does not show its history. Family reports say it was a "model farm" i.e. state of the art at the time. Who built it? Strange place for a farm but south of there was all open. He had a dairy round, but could not compete with the newly opened Enfield Highway Co-op.

The family had the story that the four swans sign was defended by locals which halted the northern advance of the tram. This story is denied by some info on line. Another part of the family lived at Harold House Waltham Cross...still there. John Tydeman a radio 3  drama producer alive now is a relative.


Family & Commercial Hotel & Posting House

Livery & Stables   Ye Olde Four Swans Hostlery 1260   Brakes & Carriages for Hire
  Detail from post card by Charles Vaughan  

A later picture, circa 1923, clearly showing the sign from the other side is reproduced on the DeadPubs web site, and other pictures can be found on Google Images

The Four Swans Inn claimed on its sign to date from 1260, and it seems very likely that there was some kind of hostelry in the area when Queen Eleanor's body rested overnight on its journey back to London. However the buildings standing when the above photograph was taken were much more recent, according to the Royal Commission Report of 1911:

Built early in the 17th century, has been much restored and altered; only original detail which remains is the entrance to the courtyard, with a square-headed doorway of original moulded beams, now much defaced.

The inn is not even mentioned in Pevsner's 1953 edition of The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire. This suggests that there were no significant architectural features considered worth preserving when the site was redeveloped in the 1960s.

I am not going to attempt to trace the sites ancient history but will look at the evidence, mainly from trade directories for 100 years from the 1830s, including the period that the Tydeman family were involved. The list on the right lists the known landlords from these sources.  It is not listed in Brewers in Hertfordshire - suggesting it was not tied to any brewery.

It is important to realise the changes that took place in the area in the 19th century. In 1811 there were only 100 houses in the hamlet of Waltham Cross (Environs of London) but it was on a busy main route out of London and there would have been plenty of trade for a good inn and posting house. The coming of the railways would have dried up much of the through traffic and hit business badly, and an old inn, with copious overnight accommodation for  people and horses would have been under-used.  This was followed by a building boom which would have increased the population and hence the need for both public houses and estate agents. There would also be a need for accommodation for people arriving at Waltham Cross Railway Station, and they would want transport (like car hire at modern airports) which is why the sign says "Brakes and Carriages for Hire."

Joseph Tydeman is first recorded in Waltham Cross in 1878 as an auctioneer based at "The Firs". By 1882 he had moved the auctioneer's business to the Four Swans, and in the 1886 directory the business was described as: Auctioneer, valuer, surveyor & estate agent, special valuer to the timber trade, valuations for probate & other purposes, The Four Swans Commercial Hotel.

At some stage Joseph converted the part of the hotel nearest to the Cross to an auctioneer's office, and in later years the hotel and the auctioneer's offices are listed separately. By 1899 Joseph had given up the hotel but was still listed as an auctioneer, but with a more limited entry than in previous years.


Trade Directory entries for the

Four Swans, Waltham Cross


1839 Elizabeth Norton
1846 Daniel William Saunders
1851 Thomas Richard Weston
1855-66 Henry Hunt
1878 Mrs Eliza Hunt
1882-95 Joseph Tydeman
1899 Percy Herriott
1902 John E Ernst
1908 Iggulden & Cairns
1912-29 Arthur Simmonds
1933 Sidney J Walmesley
1937 Mrs Lillian Woods


Joseph Tydeman's Auctioneer's Office

Compare this detail, from the Charles Vaughan post card with the same building in the later E. Gordon Smith post card. above, which was probably photographed in 1905/6. The shop front of the earlier card has two large notices in the window which could well be auctioneer's sale posters, while the later card shows a typical 1900s style public house front, with a prominent lamp to attract custom on dark evenings.

The above information, plus a quick look at the census returns, makes me wonder if Joseph may always have been an agent, and while the licenses appear to have been in his name, his wife ran the pub/hotel side of the business. It is worth noting that, as an auctioneer and estate agent, it should be able to find advertisements in the local newspapers, which could well be papers which covered parts of Essex and Middlesex, as well as Hertfordshire.

See Also The Four Swans, Waltham Cross, 1830s

Jerry Mortimer writes: I can add to the info on the publicans of the Four Swans. My great grandfather William John Nash was landlord in the late 1890's. I am afraid he was not very successful, going bankrupt in the end. He was apparently known as Jolly John Nash while he was there.

He had previously been landlord of the Bell Tavern in the Wardrobe near St.Pauls.

A check of the British Newspaper Archive shows that William John Nash went bankrupt at the very end of 1897 (London Evening Standard, 8 January, 1898).  He was only there about 18 months as the previous victualler, Joseph Tydeman had serious financial problems and the Chelmsford Chronicle of 20 May 1898 reports that Tydeman "states that in June, 1896, he disposed of the lease and business carried out at these premises for about 6,900." It could be that Nash paid too much for what was an over-valued business.

I suspect that at the time almost everyone called John Nash (and particularly publicans) was jocularly referred to as "Jolly John Nash" as John Nash (1830-1901) was of one of the well-known Victorian music hall comedians whose songs included Little Brown Jug. He was nicknamed "The Laughing Blacksmith" and is mentioned by Charles Dickens in Household Words as "Jolly John." He was the first music hall comedian to give a royal command performance in 1868. (Historical Dictionary of British Theatre: Early Period, by Darryll Grantley)

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

June 2011   Page created
January 2016   Info on John Nash