Salute the Soldier, Wells Market Place, Saturday 17th June 1944
The Crown is believed to have been built around 1450, originally as houses, commissioned by the then Bishop Beckynton. Later on The Penn Bar was divided into two buildings providing a bar for The Crown coaching inn and a separate inn called The Royal Oak.
In 1695 from an upper window at The Crown, William Penn, a Quaker who later gave his name to Pennsylvania USA and our bar, preached to a crowd of around 2-3,000 below in the Market Place.
William Penn’s speech was interrupted by a local constable with a warrant from the Mayor to arrest him for unlawful assembly. It took weeks for the matter to be settled but William Penn later returned to The Crown and public speaking.
We know little of the history of The Crown from Penn’s time until to 1900 when Tom Price (pictured above) became licensee of The Royal Oak at just 20 years of age. He left a couple of years later but returned to take over the running of The Crown in 1912, where he stayed for forty two years.
During the First World War troops were billeted at The Crown, taking over the front half of the building. For more details of The Crown’s role during WWI please visit www.wellsremembers.com.
Shortly after the war, Tom’s first wife and son died as a result of the ‘flu epidemic that swept the country at that time.
Tom later married May Bailey in 1922 and all four of their children, twin boys and two girls, were born and grew-up at The Crown.
In the 1930’s The Crown was converted into a nine-bedroom hotel, the rooms having previously been used as long term lets. During market days The Crown also stabled between 60 to 70 horses for traders to use at the rear of the building.
During the Second World War, The Crown again was a temporary home to troops coming back from various conflicts, including the Dunkirk landings. After some rest and recuperation, they were kitted out and sent off to fight again.
Tom Price retired in 1954 as Wells’ longest serving landlord and a very popular figure in Wells. We are grateful to his family for providing us with the information you have just read.
In January 1993 The Crown was boarded up and in receivership. Adrian Lawrence (licensee at The Fountain Inn 1981 to 2013) thought this a great shame. The Crown was purchased from the receiver and Adrian set about trying to improve its fortunes. Adrian and his wife Sarah have owned and run The Crown ever since with the help of an excellent management team and staff.
More recently, in 2006, The Crown became the exterior of the pub in Hot Fuzz, directed by local boy, Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. In 2007, the trio returned to The Crown to enjoy dinner in Anton’s Bistrot, during the special ‘Wells premiere’ evening organised by our local cinema owner, Derek Cooper.
Famous faces staying at The Crown have included Stephen Merchant, Jonathon Ross and comedians Greg Davies, Adam Buxton, Sean Hughes, Ardal O’Hanlon, Tim Minchin and Arthur Smith. Lord Sebastian Coe and Nicolas Cage have dined here too.
The Crown has been an important focal point in Wells throughout the 550 years it has stood and remains popular with locals and visitors.
We like to operate The Crown as an inn with rooms, offering traditional hospitality whether it is for a drink, meal or overnight accommodation. We hope you enjoy your time with us at The Crown, no matter how brief, and that we’ll have a chance to welcome you again in the not too distant future.
Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Tim Minchin and Arthur Smith
Copyright 2017 The Crown at Wells and Anton's Bistrot Site developed by Sara Blair