The Story of the "Bull and Royal," Preston
- based on an essay by Madeleine Dean -

The Bull and Royal is an old coaching inn, and probably one of the oldest buildings in Preston. During its' time as a traditional hotel, it was an elegant and impressive link with the town's proud, and occasionally turbulent history, with many noteworthy and exciting events of both local and national interest.

The magnificent Derby Room, believed to be by Adam ,who is also considered to have designed the front elevation of the building. They are regarded as being very fine examples of the late Georgian period, but it is more than likely that an inn has existed on the site for many hundreds of years, and its' position in the town at the confluence of the three main thoroughfares  of Church Gate (now Street), Fishergate, and Friargate via the Market Place, lends support to that theory.

In mediaeval times, the traveller through Lancashire in a south to north direction, avoiding the geographical hazards of moorland to the eat and coastal marshlands to the west, together with the need to traverse major rivers at their most accessible points, led to the well-used route of Warrington to cross the Mersey, Preston to cross the Ribble, and Lancaster to cross the Lune, with significant towns building up at those places. The early Christian churches offered hospitality to traveller, with inns later developing close by to those churches. 

The Parish Church of Preston was mentioned in the Doomsday Book (1086), but as trade increased and prosperous merchants desired more comfort. The church stands on land that was granted to the Monastery and Church of Ripon in the year 705, and it is believed that the first church on the site was founded by St. Wilfrid in 709, who was then Archbishop of York. In the year 957 a later Saxon Church was built and dedicated to St. Wilfrid. It has been rebuilt several times, with the current one dating from 1855, but based on these details it is clear that there has been a church on the site for over 1,200 years

It is certain that in 1673, on the site that we now know is the Bull and Royal, was the "White Bull." At that time it was already a well established inn, being used as Judges Lodgings. The Judges would be going to, or returning from the Lancaster Assizes, and they would stay the night and change their horses.
Judge Jeffreys - The Hanging Judge

In 1684, the notorious Lord Chief Justice of England,Judge Jeffreys, on his way back from the Autumn Assize at Lancaster, stayed at Preston. The Mayor and the Corporation entertained him in an attempt to influence him to persuade Charles II to restore priviliges that had been witdrawn by his Charter of 1673. 

It was not a pleasant duty, because it was recorded that Jeffreys 'was a drunkard and dissolute in his personal habits.' However, a few months later Preston received its second Charter from the King dated 14th January 1684 / 1685 whereby Charles II extended the privileges of the borough.

Reference had been made in the Preston Corporation's "Rental of Town Lands" in 1670, which records:-
      "Item from William Worden for a porte (porch) 4 yards long and one yard broad, and sellar   
        (cellar) stairs 3 yards long and 2 yards broad, at his house called the Bull"

The rental paid at that time for the property was illegible, but Richard Jackson took a Lease on the White Bull from William Worden on the 14th November 1693, secured on three lives, for a lump sum and a rental of 40/- (£2) per year.
James, the Fifth Duke of Hamilton b. 1701

In 1701, James, the son and heir of the IVth Duke of Hamilton, was born at the White Bull, and christened at the Parish Church. In 1703 the Duke presented the magnificent silver gilt mace, known as the Great Mace, and still in use on civic occasions, to the Mayor and Corporation as a token of his friendship, and to commemorate the birth of his son.
James, IVth Duke of Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with Lord Mohun
in Kensington Gardens in 1712.

In 1715, on November the 9th and 10th, 1600 Jacobite rebels entered the town, and also on the 10th, the Old Pretender, the Chevalier de St. George, son of James II was proclaimed King James III at the Market Cross.
James Francis Edward Stuart (1701 - 1766)
The "Old Pretender" or the "Old Chevalier"

The clansmen had intended to carry on the next day as the forces of George I under General Wills had approached as far as Wigan, but the attractions of Preston 'seduced them' and they dallied in the town. At the time, a chronicler wrote:

                       "The ladies of this town are so very beautiful and so richly attired
                          that the gentlemen soldiers from Wednesday to Saturday minded 
                          nothing but courting and feasting".

General Wills had apparently considered that this was likely to happen, as Preston was well known for its gay social life, and the town had a large number of Jacobite sympathisers.

Sir Henry Hoghton of Hoghton Towers, who was at that time M.P. for Preston, rallied 600 militiamen on behalf of George I, and fierce fighting raged until November 12th in the streets of Preston, with battles taking place outside the Bull, in Church Street, Fishergate and the Market Place. On the 12th the rebels offered to surrender, on the condition that the King's General, General Wills would recommend mercy to the King. He refused, but said that "he would prevent his troops hacking them to pieces before their trial as traitors." The rebels laid down their arms in the market place, and the Clansmen imprisoned for a month under guard in the Parish Church, and fed on bread and water. Services, however, continued during their imprisonment, and Samuel Peploe M.A., the Vicar of Preston, preached sermons in support of George I.

William Gordon
6th Viscount Kenmure 
(1672 - 1716)
James Radclyffe
3rd Earl of Derwentwater
(1689 - 1716)

The Highland Chiefs, including William, Viscount Kenmure, and James, Earl of Derwentwater, who were later executed in Tower Hill. Other rebels were tried, and several convicted an put to death, some being hung at Gallows Hill where English Martyr's Church now stands. The Earl of Derwentwater had strong Preston connections, and in 1711 donated a silver mace on his election as "Mayor" to the Mock Corporation of Walton-le-dale, an organisation of Jacobite sympathisers which was founded in 1701.

During the 1715 Rebellion, the landlord of the White Bull was Richard Jackson, a known Jacobite sympathiser, and a Catholic. From the time of the dissolution of the monastries, and despite heavy persecution, many of the old Lancashire families stubbornly clung to their old faith, holding services in out of the way attics and barns; several of the old manor houses in the district still have their priests hiding holes.

In 1685, when James II ascended to the throne, the persecution of the Catholics ceased, and a Benedictene Monk, D.O.M. Gregory (Bartholomew Hesketh) who leased Fishwick Hall from Viscount Molyneaux, founded a monastery there and built a Chapel. Bartholomew Hesketh was the younger son of Gabriel Hesketh of Whitehill Goosnargh, and the family name is still remembered today by the Hesketh Arms at the junctuion of New Hall Lane and Blackpool Road.

In 1689 James was deposed, and the short respite for the Catholics was over - the chapel was stripped, and the bells were buried near the stable wall adjoining the Hall. In 1716, after the Rebellion, Catholics were once again out of favour, and the Commissioners seized Fishwick Hall and the estate, it being "settled to superstitious Uses and that there is a popish chappell built thereon", and Richard Jackson was arrested.

As well as being the landlord of the White Bull, Richard Jackson was a man of some substance, and was a tenant of the Fishwick Hall Estate which he rented for £40 a year. In October 1716 he was brought to trial, accused of being a practising Catholic and an agent of the Priests. During the trial, one witness, Richard Sudell, swore that the Chapel bells were dug up and kept in his fathers house at Fishwick for a few days, and then taken to Preston by Richard Jackson and placed in the cellar of the White Bull.

Jackson, who was again examined in 1718 was ruined, and the White Bull passed into the hands of a wealthy man, John Winder, a graduate of Brasenose College, Oxford, who practised in Preston as an Attorney, and who was enrolled as an In-Burgess in the 1742 Guild.

Only the following year, on the 20th April, 1719, John Winder contravened the planning laws, and was charged before the Grand Court Leet -

                         "for suffering a Sign Post to stand in the street before his house,
                           being a common nuisance to all His Majesties Leige people and
                           and annoyance to the publick street"

In 1731 Winder bought the property of the White Bull from William Bushell, a member of a well known local family who later endowed Bushell's Hospital in Goosnargh, and after whom Bushell Place is named.

Daniel Defoe (c.1660 - 1731)

The Bull maintained its position as the centre of Preston's social life, and in 1727 Daniel Defoe visited Preston, and wrote, "Preston is a fine and gay town full of attorneys, Procters and Notories, withv a great deal of good company," and he will as likely as not have visited the Bull.

On the 27th November 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie reached Preston on his journey south, when he received an enthusiastic welcome. In the evening he held a Council at the White Bull, and entertained the local nobility to a 'glittering reception'.

Bonnie Prince Charlie  (1720 - 1788)

Preston once again revealed its Stuart sympathies, and an extract from a letter written by one of the Prince's clansmen, Rollo Anderson to his brother from Preston on November 27th says:

                              "I am now in your town of Preston, which I find the prettiest
                               by far of any I have yet seen in England, and where we have 
                               found none but friends."

Akin to this comment, it is worth noting that John Marchant, in his 'History of the Present Rebellion' dated 1746, wrote about Preston:

                          "This place, for its situation on a clean delightful eminence, 
                            handsome streets and variety of company that board here, is
                            reckoned to be one of the prettiest retirements in England.
                            Tis a very gay town, the residence of officers belonging to the
                            Chancery of the County Palatine, and is called proud Preston."

James Ray, writing his 'Compleat History of the Rebellion' published in 1749, said about the Prince's stay in Preston - "The female beauty with which it now shines, - the ladies being very agreeable and much gentry live here."  All in all, it appears that the ladies of Preston made a great impact on the Prince, and he presented a locket containing his portrait (which is now to be seen in the Harris Museum), to a Miss Grace Peddar, then almost 19 years of age, buring a reception at the Bull.

Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby.
(1752 - 1834)

In 1773, one of the richest men in England, Lord Stanley, later the 12th Earl of Derby, bought the Bull.; six years later he founded the Oaks which he won with his mare, Bridget, and elated with his success he founded the Derby the following year. He was born in Preston, in the Derby's town house, Patten House (demolished in 1835, Patten House stood on the Church Street site bounded by Derby Street and Pole Street), and educated at Preston Grammar School, before going to Winchester. He spoke with a Lancashire accent, was particularly closed connected with Preston, and purchased the Bull to entertain his many guests. Although he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Duke of Portland's government of 1783, he cared little for politics; social life, particularly balls, cards, horse racing and cock-fighting were his main interests. In 1774 the Earl bought the adjoining property to the White Bull, and the rebuilding of the front elevation and the Derby Assembly Room, sometimes known as the Adam Room, began. 

The deceptively simple exterior of the Assembly Room conceals one of the most beautiful rooms in the North of England; it is still largely unspoiled, and exhibits the arms of the two foremost aristocratic families of the town, the Earls of Derby and the Dukes of Hamilton, and despite there being no current access to the magnificent room, must be regarded as one of Preston's greatest treasures.

One of the most frequent visitors to the Bull was the Earl's close friend and brother-in-law, the internationally famous General John Burgoyne, M.P. for Preston from 1768 until his death in 1792. His military career had begun in 1741 when he purchased a 2nd Lieutenancy in the 13th Light Dragoons who were, at the time, stationed in Preston. It was here that he met and eloped with Lady Charlotte Stanley, the then Lord Stanley's sister. Lord Stanley, who had met Burgoyne when they both attended Winchester.

"Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne (1722 - 1792)
One-time M.P. for Preston. Buried in Westminster Abbey.

In December 1808 the admission to an assembly was 2s 6d (121/2p) for ladies, and 3s 6d (171/2pfor gentlemen, and dancing commenced at 6pm. The "Preston Oyster and Parched Pea Club" which was established in 1773 was a very select organisation which met in the Assembly Room, and their chief business appeared to consist of eating oyster and drinking  wine. In 1786 Lord Derby leased Fulwood Moor where he instituted races in opposition to Preston Corporation's races held on Moor Park, and he built his own personal Cock Pit at the side of the Bull in Stoneygate. A blue-plaque today marks the site. 

Incredibly, it was only used for one week in the whole year, during Race Week. The rest of the year it was used as a school by the Parish Church, and later Joseph Livesey, the founder of the Temperance Movement held meetings there, and it was at the Cock Pit that the "Seven Men of Preston" signed the pledge of total abstinence, thus starting a worldwide movement, and the word tee-total, uttered by Richard (Dicky) Turner entered the English language.

Joseph Livesey, founder of the Temperance Movement.
(1794 - 1884)

In 1803 Prince William Frederick of Gloucester visited Preston and was entertained by the Mayor and Corporation at the Bull.  The following year he returned, bringing with him his father, the brother of George III, and said "Preston is the handsomest town in England."

The 1822 Guild has been recognised as one of the most brilliant ever celebrated, with many aristocratic visitors to the town, including Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester, who was admitted as a Burgess. As part of the celebrations Lord Derby arranged a Cock Fight at the Bull which lasted over five days, between himself and Thomas Legh M.P. The stakes were high, the winner receiving 200 guineas, plus 10 guineas for each battle his Cocks won.  Lord Derby was the victor receiving 430 guineas in all, and this was at a time when several servants could be kept on an income of £300 per year.

Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester.
(1776 - 1834)

During the late 18th and 19th century the Bull remained the centre of Preston's social life, but as the Industrial Revolution developed it also became a business and political centre. Before the Great Reform Act of 1832, Preston had the rare distinction of universal suffrage (with the exception of women) and as a result, elections in the town excited national interest. The town attracted candidates wishful of reforming the established system whereby new manufacturing cities like Manchester had no M.P.'s, and boroughs with only a handful of voters were able to return two or more Members to Westminster. Between 1768 and 1795 the Lord Derby of the day had been able to nominate both candidates for election to Parliament, and Preston was virtually the Stanley's pocket Borough. However, in 1796, and backed by the Corporation, John Horrocks, head of the rising cotton empire, put up as candidate against Lord Stanley, later the 13th Earl of Derby, and after an intense campaign which involved Stanley addressing crowds from the windows of the Bull, both Stanley and Horrocks were elected.

John Horrocks
John Horrocks M.P. (1768 - 1804)

The election of John Horrocks dented the Derby's power in the town, although later Derby's were both M.P.'s and Mayors of the town, and the 13th Earl worked closely with first, John and after 1807 with Samuel Horrocks, and they frequently dined together at public dinners at the Bull.

In 1820, on the death of George lll a General Election was held, and the great Radical, Henry "The Orator" Hunt stood as candidate, but was defeated. He had had to leave the polling early to appear at the York Assizes where he was sentenced to 21/2 years imprisonment for his part in the 1819 Peterloo Massacre.

Henry "The Orator" Hunt  (1773 - 1835)

Fierce riots had broken out during the thirteen days of polling, and feelings were running very high. The Mayor and Town Clerk had attempted to read the Riot Act from the Grey Horse in Church Stret, but the mob pelted them with stones, and they retreated, to climb over pailings at the rear of the Bull, finally reading the Riot Act from one of the upper storeys of the Bull., The mob were unable to reach them, but they smashed the ground floor windows, several people were seriously injured, and the 7th Dragoons were called in.

In the 1826 Election Lord Stanley, later the 14th Earl of Derby was a candidate, and Hunt was again the Radical candidate, but lost, and Preston-born Lord Stanley, who was to be three-times Prime Minister was returned. Following the death of George lV in 1830, another election was triggered, and once again Stanley was elected. However, in the December of 1830, after Lord Stanley had accepted the role of Chief Secretary of State for Ireland, a By-Election was held and Hunt was again nominated, but it was thought unthinkable that a Minister of State could be defeated, and Hunt didn't even appear until the fifth polling day. The campaign run by Stanley from the Bull and Royal was the subject of fundamental errors based on the same assumptions spoken about above, and Henry "The Orator" Hunt was victorious. Delighted by the result, the Radicals set up a national fund and presented each Preston voter with a silver medal, inscribed on one side with the words:

                                    "H. Hunt Esqr. M.P. for Preston December 24th 1830"

Surmounted over a wreath with the words:

                                     "The time has come. The triumph of principle"

And on the opposite side read:  
             "One of the 3,730 electors of Preston. The grateful tribute of the people of England."

This result was bitterly resented by the Derby's and the special relationship between them and the town was broken. The races on Fulwood Moor ceased, and Patten House, the home of the Derby family for over 150 years, was closed, and in 1835 demolished. The Bull and Royal, however, was retained  until well into the 20th century. In 1835 the rift between the Derby's and the town were healed however, when the Hon. F.A. Stanley was elected Member of Parliament for Preston, after being requested to stand by the Corporation.

In 1837, the first Mormon missionaries arrived in Preston, just
seven years after their Church was founded in the U.S.A. by Joseph
Smith. Why Preston was chosen isn't clear, but this is where they
began  their missionary work, with meetings held at the Bull's Cock-
pit, and the first nine Mormon converts were baptised  in the River
Ribble on the 30th July 1837.

At the beginning of the 1840's Preston was suffering, like the rest of the country, from the industrial crisis, and in 1842 Chartist riots broke out in many places. In the August of that years, the Mayor of Preston, Samuel Horrocks, called in the detachment of the 72nd Highlanders who were station at the Bull Assembly Rooms on full alert. The Mayor and other Corporation Officials, together with Police set off down Fishergate to meet the rioters. It was on Fishergate that the Riot Act was read to the mob, and the Mayor was pelted with stones. The Police were unable to quell the riot and the 72nd Highlanders, armed with muskets were told to advance.

72nd Foot uniform.png
72nd Highlanders

The crowd fled out of Fishergate and into Lune Street and turned to meet the soldiers outside the Corn Exchange (Part of which is now The Assembly pub). Some rioters climbed onto scaffolding and threw stones at the soldiers, whilst anther group of rioters made their way through Fleet Street and Fox Street, doubling back on themselves down Lune Street in an attempt to surround the Highlanders.

Whilst this was going on some Royal Engineers, in Preston on Ordnance Survey work, marched down Lune Street. Their Captain, with sword drawn warned the mob that if they didn't disperse, the soldiers would fire. They replied with stones and the soldiers fired. Eight rioters fell wounded with five of them dying from their injuries,.

The memorial to the five people who died in the 1842 Chartist Riots.

During the period from October 1853 and May 1854, there were about 26,000 people out of work in Preston, and there was a great deal of poverty and suffering. In 1856, Charles Dickens came to Preston to get a first hand impression of the effects of the mill-owners lock-out of their workers. It is said that his novel "Hard Times" was inspired by what he saw, although he claimed that the work was underway before he arrived here. Furthermore, it is believed that the "Coketown" in Hard Times is really Preston.
Charles Dickens stayed at the Bull and Royal whilst in Preston, 
describing the hotel as "an old grubby, smoky, mean, intensely
formal red brick house."  
Dickens made a further visit to Preston in 1868, but he was too
ill to fulfill any of his engagements. The Manager of the Bull and
Royal, Christopher Townsend, borrowed £120 from customers and
friends at the Bull, and personally went to the Guild Hall to repay
all those who had wanted to hear a reading from the great man.
He was to give no further readings before his death in 1870.
In 1862 there was another  By-Election in Preston, and it was said that Sir Thomas George Hesketh, a Derby nominee, (below) spent the enormous sum of £10,000 bribing electors in the inns of the town. He was elected, but with only 1,527 votes, meaning that each vote had cost him £6.55p. Extraordinary.
Sir Thomas George Hesketh (1825–1872), 5th Bt, of Rufford
Sir Thomas George Hesketh (1825 - 1872)

During the time that this Town Hall was being constructed in 1862 - 63,
Preston Council meetings were held in the Derby Room at the Bull and Royal.

Queen Mary
Queen Mary (Elizabeth ll's grand-mother)
King George V

In July 1913, Lord Derby entertained King George V and Queen Mary
to lunch in the Derby Room on their visit to Lancashire.During the luncheon
music was provided by the band of the lV Battalion of Preston's regiment the
Loyal North Lancashire.

In the 1960's Bass Charrington acquired the Bull and Royal through a take-over of Massey's Brewery in Burnley and the building passed out of local hands. Bass refurbished the hotel and it continued to retain its prominent position in the social life of the town with gala balls and dinners, until its' closure in 1975 when the hotel that is now the Holiday Inn opened on Ringway.

After remaining empty for some years and after a lengthy public enquiry, the Bull and Royal is once again owned by a local company who plan to restore it to the mainstream of life in the town.

Things have gone well so far, and who knows what the future may hold.


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