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The Peahen Hotel

 

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The Peahen Hotel in the Market

[1897]

 

The company that assembled at the Masons' Hall Tavern. Masons' Avenue, Bassinhall-street, E.C. [London], on Tuesday, when the Peahen Hotel, St. Albans, was put up for auction by Messrs. Richard Rowbotham and Co., was indeed a representative one. We have stated in previous issues that negociations with regard to the sale of the Peahem were going on, but up to Tuesday it had not been disposed of, and consequently on that day it was placed before the public by Mr. W.J. Rowbotham, who conducted the sale on behalf of the firm. Among those present we noticed Messers D. Pike, Good, Price, J. McLarty, T.W. Kent, Kent jun., A. Rowden, S.L. Harding, Carter, Wilkinson, Pugh, Gower, Andrews, Cathiel, Ryder, Morgan, Bockett, Humphrey, Booker, R. Hill, F. Hill, and several others.

In opening the sale Mr. Rowbotham remarked that he had the pleasure to offer to them the freehold together with the good will and possession of the Peahen Hotel, St Albans. The house occupied the most prominent position in the city, being at the corner of Holywell-hill and the main London-road. The premises had been in the possession of the late owner's family for a period of upwards of a century. The Peahen was admittedly the principal hotel in St Albans and the surrounding district. The business was of a high-class and profitable character, and capable of considerable extension by the provision of further accommodation, for which there was ample space. The property was practically free from opposition, and having regard to the growth of St. Albans, there was no doubt the existing trade would, in the near future, be largely increased. On the first floor of the premises there were two private sitting rooms, fifteen letting and three staff bedrooms, with all the accommodation of a first-class house. On the second floor there was a commercial-room, private sitting-room, large coffee-room, hotel bar and office, smoking room, sale room, staff-room and waiter's pantry, kitchen and offices. There were also extensive cellars in the basement, and a yard and entrance to the London-road and Holywell-hill, four-loose boxes, two stables with four stalls in each, and a loft, lock up coach house, etc. The furniture, fixtures, fittings, and effects belonging to the vendor together with the stock-in-trade were to be taken up by the purchaser at valuation.

The auctioneer drew attention to a portion of the particulars which was to the effect that the vendor proposed to build a block of seven shops and dwelling-houses upon a piece of land adjoining the Hotel. The building operations, however, had not been commenced in case the purchaser desired to purchase the land referred to for the sum of 15,000 but this was optional. Continuing, Mr. Rowbotham said that it must have been quite obvious to them that the trade was in its infancy. Things had been going on for a great number of years but no alterations had been made with a view to bringing the premises more up to date, and he suggested that with the erection of a good bar in the hotel, the trade of St. Albans would be in the hands of the proprietor of the Peahen. This was obvious to anyone who knew the city. He thought every house within a reasonable distance was tied, and that the erection of a good bar there was a business-like suggestion. With reference to the hotel, there had been no alteration made in it for a great number of years, and taking it altogether the trade was practically in its infancy, and only one change had been made in the last century.

The first bid for the property was 16,000 and as this did not reach the reserve price, and no other bidding took place, the property was withdrawn.

Mr Rowbotham expressed his willingness to treat for the property privately.

 

Herts Advertiser 9th October, 1897

 

 

The City of St Albans: 1902 Edition

 

 

Early History

'A messuage called le Pehenne' is mentioned in 1480 and it was kept in 1568 by Alice Thomson who left the lease in her will to her son, John.  Both the Peahen and the adjoining Woolpack were owned in 1621 by Henry Baldwyn. When the London road was built at the end of the 18th century the Peahen occupied a more prominent corner site although it still remained a small timber-framed building even after its merger with the Woolpack in 1852. It was owned by the Marks family from before 1780 until 1898, when it was demolished and rebuilt. By 1902 parts of the site had been redeveloped for commercial use (see 1902 entries below). [Hertfordshire Inns & Public Houses]

Trade Directory Entries

The Universal British Directory of Trade
c 1798   Marks, ----, Pea-hen
Pigot's Directory for Hertfordshire
1822  

Pea-hen, Ths. Marks, Holywell Hill

1828/9  

Pea-hen, (commercial and coach office) Thos Marks, High St

1839  

Pea Hen, Thomas Marks, Holywell Hill and New London Road.

Post Office/Kelly's Directory for Herts

1851   Marks Mrs. Mary, tallow chandler & maltster, Pea Hen inn & coach office, High Street
1866   Marks Mary (Mrs.), Peahen commercial inn & posting house, High Street
1882   Marks William, Peahen commercial inn & posting house, 68 Holywell hill & farmer, St. Michael's
1895   Marks William, Peahen commercial inn & posting house, 68 Holywell hill & farmer, St. Michael's
1899  

Peahen (The) Principal Family & Commercial Hotel (Walter Price, proprietor); every accommodation; central; near Abbey, Holywell hill

1902  

Bryant & Son, house furnishers, Peahen buildings, London road

Fletcher W. & R. Ltd. butchers, Peahen buildings. London rd

Houston Gertrude (Mrs), toy warehouse, Peahen buildings, London road

Maurice Harold L.D.S.Eng. surgeon dentist, 1 Peahen chambers, London road

Peahen (The) Principal Hotel (Walter Price, proprietor); first class accommodation. Telegrams, "Peahen, St Albans"; telephone 43

Public Benefit Boot Co. boot & shoe warehouse, Peahen buildings, London Road

Rudd Thomas Addison, costumier, Peahen bldgs. London rd

Shields Robert Henry, chemist, Peahen buildings, London road

Strofton Frederick Caustin, tobacconist, Peahen buildings, London Road

1912  

"Peahen" (The Principal Hotel)(Walter Price, proprietor); first class accommodation; rebuilt 1898; horses and carriages; garage; hotel supplied from own farm; London road, Telegrams, "Peahen, St Albans"; telephone 256

1926  

"Peahen" (The Principal Hotel) (Mrs. L.H. Price, proprietor); first class accommodation; rebuilt 1898; spacious garage & stabling; London road, Telegrams, "Peahen, St Albans"; telephone 256

1937   "PEAHEN" (THE PRINCIPAL HOTEL) (E. Bland, proprietor); First-class accommodation; spacious garage & stabling; excellent cuisine; parties catered for; moderate charges, London road, Telegrams, "Peahen, St Albans"; telephone 256 & 669

When the First World Was broke out in August 1914, the 2nd London Division set up their headquarters in the Peahen Hotel. Lieutenant Colonel Collen wrote in his diary:

As we have about 20 officers (including R.A.M.C., A.V.C., etc.) and some 70 batsmen, grooms, orderlies and military police we cannot very well go into a private house that is not centrally situated. We have to pay 4/- a day extra and give the manager of the hotel our rations or the money equivalent. [The London Gunners come to Town]

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