Crown and Crossed Swords

In 1812 The Commercial and Sword Inns were combined and renamed ‘The Commercial & Sword Hotel’. Both were owned by the sword maker, Christopher Oley. For many years it was a coaching Inn and on the original gatepost faded letters still read “HOTEL LIVERY STABLES”. Today, the outbuildings in the car park are used for storage.

There is a legend that his relation, Robert Oley, had made a wager with other sword-smiths that he could produce a blade that would excel any they might make. His double-edged sword was so fine that he was able to coil it inside the brim of his hat. In honour of his winning the crown for the best sword in this ‘all-England’ competition, the hotel became known as the ‘Crown and Sword’. It was listed as that in Hagar’s Directory (1851). Another three public houses in the village were also listed: Wheat Sheaf (demolished for road widening); Derwent Hotel (now residential) and William IV (now the Kings Head).

Some time between 1890 and 1922, the Sword Hotel was enlarged with the addition of an upper story and bay windows on the first floor. During the same time frame photographs show that the Kings Head was remodelled and the cottages on Burnmill Bank, leading to the river, were demolished.

There is a crown and crossed swords above the entrance to the former Commercial Inn. It was made by Consett Engineering in 1980, to replace an earlier version created when the name was changed to the ‘Crown & Crossed Swords’, after 1922.  The name first appeared in Kelly’s directory (1938).