London Inn, Ivybridge 

having succeeded to the above Inn, W. Rivers avails himself of this opportunity of soliciting the patronage of the Nobility, his Friends, Commercial Gentlemen, and the Public generally. The Premises being replete with every comfort for families, he trusts his endeavours will ensure him success. Good stabling, Lock-up Coach Houses

The Western Times 1830

London Inn, Ivybridge 

having succeeded to the above Inn, W. Rivers avails himself of this opportunity of soliciting the patronage of the Nobility, his Friends, Commercial Gentlemen, and the Public generally. The Premises being replete with every comfort for families, he trusts his endeavours will ensure him success. Good stabling, Lock-up Coach Houses

The Western Times 1830

Coaching Inns

For around 200 years from the mid-17th century, the principle mode of transport for the long-distance traveller was the stage coach or mail coach. Having to make frequent stops, a comprehensive network of coaching inns was established to support the coaches and passengers. These inns provided stabling and often fresh teams of horses to replace tired ones. Trained hostlers or “ostlers” were employed to tend to the horses and were able to change teams rapidly, enabling the Royal Mail to adhere to its demanding delivery schedules. The inns also catered for passengers with refreshments and overnight accommodation. The domestic services at the inns were overseen by a housekeeper, quite often the wife of the owner. Over time, the inns improved with the emergence of dining rooms or “coffee rooms” as they were called, making for a more pleasurable stay. The term hotel (taken from french) was rare in England before 1800. The earliest reference to hotel can be traced to an advertisement in 1770 for The Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. This hotel reached the national news headlines in 2016 following a devastating fire.

A painting entitled Ivy Bridge London Inn dating from the 1780s clearly depicts the inn alongside the bridge

With the improvements to the road between Exeter and Plymouth, a new inn called the “London Inn” was established sometime during the 1780s in Ivybridge, located conveniently on the coach road at the bridge. The owner was Henry Rivers, an inn-keeper from Modbury. He was a shrewd businessman and invested heavily within Ivybridge. He became the owner of Stowford Estate buying it from William Dunsterville. He also purchased a number of other leases in the village. However, his business activities were curtailed in 1816 when he was declared bankrupt. His grandson, William Rivers, was set to carry on at the London Inn running it with his wife, the daughter of John and Ann Stevenitts, the innkeepers of The Ivybridge Hotel.

In 1800 the inn was described as

an excellent good house … cool and pleasant with a romantic walk on the other side of the river above the bridge

With the improvements to the road between Exeter and Plymouth, a new inn called the “London Inn” was established sometime during the 1780s in Ivybridge, located conveniently on the coach road at the bridge. The owner was Henry Rivers, an inn-keeper from Modbury. He was a shrewd businessman and invested heavily within Ivybridge. He became the owner of Stowford Estate buying it from William Dunsterville. He also purchased a number of other leases in the village. However, his business activities were curtailed in 1816 when he was declared bankrupt. His grandson, William Rivers, was set to carry on at the London Inn running it with his wife, the daughter of John and Ann Stevenitts, the innkeepers of The Ivybridge Hotel.

In 1800 the inn was described as

an excellent good house … cool and pleasant with a romantic walk on the other side of the river above the bridge

A painting entitled Ivy Bridge London Inn dating from the 1780s clearly depicts the inn alongside the bridge

RM1

Mail Coaches

These were originally designed for a driver who was seated outside and up to four passengers travelling inside. The guard, an employee of the Post Office meanwhile travelled on the outside at the rear next to the mail box. Later, the number of passengers increased with provision made for travellers to be seated outside next to the driver. These coaches were more expensive than private stage coaches but were faster and generally less crowded and cleaner. Travel on the mail coach was almost always at night, a time when the roads were less busy permitting the coach to make better speed.

 

Stops to collect mail were short. The Plymouth to Exeter coach took around 3½ hours whilst the whole journey to London took around 22 hours. There were change-over points for fresh horses located at Chudleigh, Ashburton and Ivybridge.

‘QUICKSILVER’

The Devonport to London Royal Mail coach

This coach, bearing the striking Royal Mail red and black livery, became known as the fastest coach in the country as it travelled its regular route from London to Falmouth in Cornwall.

 

It was also famous for a rather unusual occurrence on 20th October 1816. While on its way to London on said evening, it drew into the Pheasant Inn on Salisbury Plain. There, quite unexpectedly the leading horses were attacked by a lioness which had escaped from a travelling menagerie. The extraordinary incident became the subject of a painting by artist James Pollard.

Rogers Arms

The Rogers Arms

later to be called the Ivybridge Hotel, was established at the turn of the nineteenth century. A lease was granted to Henry Rivers, owner of the London Inn. Rivers, unable to run the establishment himself, appointed innkeepers John and Ann Stevenitt. 

Strategically placed on the Plymouth to London road, it became the principal coaching inn at Ivybridge for the next fifty years and for a time, the post office, with four mail coaches calling each day. 

Unfortunately, its success was short lived. With the introduction of the railway line in 1848, resulting in a sharp decline in stagecoach travel, coupled with the deteriorating condition of the property, the decision was taken to close the hotel in 1851. All surviving stagecoach business would be left to the ‘London Inn’ and the ‘King’s Arms’ in Fore Street, a house that had proved popular since its establishment in the 1830s, having accommodation for vehicles. The Ivybridge Hotel was later converted to three dwellings. We know the property today as Grosvenor Court.

A pleasant evening was passed …

A true account of an incident at the London Inn in 1830.

 

In the village of Ivybridge, Devonshire, on the main road from Devonport to London, close to that little trout stream, the Erme, stood Henry River’s small snug hotel, which those of you who have travelled by the Quicksilver Mail will no doubt remember. One day a gentlemanly man dressed in one of those long coats which button down almost to the feet, and which were fashionable at that time, called at this hotel and engaged a room for the night. After a capital dinner and mine host’s best wine, he sent the waiter to ask the landlord if he would join him in a cigar and a glass of grog. So a pleasant evening was passed and the two parted at bedtime well pleased with each other’s company. The traveller gave orders to be called early next morning. Punctual to his orders the boots called him, but great was his consternation when he recalled and informed by the gentleman that his breeches had been stolen during the night. Here was an embarrassing situation for an inmate of a respectable hotel to be placed in. But Mr Rivers speedily came to the rescue. In fact, the credit of his house demanded it, and a pair of the landlord’s best breeches were placed at the stranger’s service. So far all was satisfactory but Mr River’s troubles were not over and when the travelling gentleman informed him that there was a five pound note in the breeches pocket he had no other course but to replace the one lost.

 

And so, the man departed in peace, or rather in Mr River’s breeches with the £5 note safely in his pocket. Mr River’s again and again expressing his regret at the unfortunate occurrence. Of course, he at once set out to discover the daring thief. He never found him, but he learned that the stranger had sold his own breeches in Ashburton the day before arriving and that the reason he could not find his own that morning was because he had got none on when he arrived at the hotel, his long coat so hiding.

The Duke of Wellington visits Plymouth

In 1846 there was a well-documented visit to Plymouth by the Duke of Wellington. Serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces he was due to inspect the defences. The Duke was able to make use of the “iron road” for the majority of his journey, leaving London from Paddington and not Waterloo! However, the railway line at that time only extended as far south as Teignmouth, so from there he had to travel the rest of the journey by horse-drawn coach. At Ivybridge the coach stopped to change horses as was the norm but none were available. It seems likely that this happened at the London Hotel. As word travelled, Wellington not wishing to draw attention to himself, slipped away and continued his journey to Plymouth on foot, knowing his carriage would catch him up once new horses were obtained. Before long the regular “Tally Ho”, Exeter to Devonport coach pulled up alongside, the guard asked whether the Duke would do him the honour of taking a seat on his coach. The Duke, now well into his 70s, graciously declined the offer deciding to continue with his walk. He was eventually met by his carriage and taken to Plymouth before making his inspection at the Citadel the following day.

 

Whilst there are no memorials commemorating the visit, there are several reminders in and around Plymouth, Devonport and Torpoint, with street names of Wellington and indeed Waterloo.

The London Hotel

changed hands many times after the long stewardship under the Rivers family. If one studies the directories, it seems that the hotel adopted the name of each proprietor.

From 1861 until 1878, the hotel was being run by William Mallett and his family, with the establishment simply described as ‘Mallett’s Hotel’ in news articles. The hotel having a large concert hall, private gardens and a ‘favourite resort of visitors and tourists.’

By 1889, the name had changed to ‘Bohn’s Hotel’ reflecting the new proprietor, James Bohn. It would appear he was an experienced hotelier, having run the Ilfracombe Hotel and, at the time, the proprietor of the ‘Grand Hotel’ on the Hoe, described as ‘the only hotel with a sea view’. This would explain the census of 1891 recording a Frank Edward Bohn as Hotel Manager at the London Hotel, aged just 23. He was the son of James and one assumes he ran the hotel whilst his father remained in Plymouth.

When the hotel was sold in the early 20th-century it became known as Millbourne’s London Hotel. The proprietor was now Elizabeth Millbourne. The hotel was described as ‘comprising of bar, smoking, commercial, and tea-rooms, 3 private sitting-rooms, billiard and large assembly rooms, 16 bedrooms, a public bar known as the London Hotel Tap, stabling for 24 horses, motor garage, lovely gardens and riverside walks, the whole site covering about 1 ¾ acres’.

 

The London Hotel during the latter part of the nineteenth century was the venue for Petty Sessions in the area. Handling lesser legal cases both criminal and civil, they were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. They were normally prominent landowners or gentlemen. Henry John Fice Lee and members of Allen family, owners of the paper mill, served as Justices of the Peace in Ivybridge.

The first case heard at the London Hotel …

For the first time in the history of Ivybridge the magistrates Mr J.D. Pode and Mr J.J. McAndrew sat in the Assembly room of the London Hotel. The court was held for the decision of a case which has created great excitement in the village … a respectably dressed man, visited the Bridge inn, kept by Mr S.Northmore, and called for a glass of ale, but after he left the house he went round and re-entered by the back door… the landlady bolted the door and captured the trespasser on the stairs. In spite of his struggling she clung to him until assistance came. He was handed over to P.C. Bastin, who found in his pockets a cold chisel and three skeleton keys. After a night in the lock-up, the prisoner was taken before Mr J.D.Pode at Cornwood, and formally remanded …On the way back to Ivybridge police station Bastin held him in tow with a stout cord attached to his wrist… whilst distracted, the prisoner managed to untie the cord, but still held it in his hand so as to avoid detection. About three quarters of a mile from Ivybridge he suddenly bolted down Kennel lane and as he was a good runner speedily got away from the policeman. An excited chase was then started on foot and also on horseback. After a brisk two hours run the game went to cover. A man named Blackler discovered the prisoner hiding under one of the shrubs at the back of the Highland House, and he was conducted in triumph back to the police cell… he admitted that he was George Wakeham, son of a gardener who some years ago was employed at Highland House… The sentence was that he be imprisoned for three calendar months with hard labour… A strong conviction is felt that he was connected with a robbery that took place at Mr Beer’s on the 4th March..
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser 21 May 1879

In more recent times the London Hotel was a very popular venue for countless social gatherings and will be recalled with fond memories by many within Ivybridge.

The ballroom was the venue for the 1st Ivybridge Scout Gang Shows in the 1940s to 50s and was also used by the Ivybridge Garden & Allotment Association for their Autumn Shows.

Stowford Paper Mill was a regular patron of the hotel and the Ivybridge Young Farmers regularly used the hotel for gatherings and events as did Ivybridge Badminton Club from time to time.

A great annual event was the opening meet of the Dartmoor Foxhounds at Stowford Lodge lawn. This was followed by the annual Hunt Dinner at the London Hotel. Commander Davey, Master of the Dartmoor Hounds was always in attendance leading the merriment.

London Hotel & Dartmoor Hunt
The Dartmoor Hunt meeting outside the London Hotel

Commander Charles Henry Davey had settled in Ivybridge soon after the First World War, living as a bachelor at Beaconville. He was a very competent horseman and soon accepted the Mastership of the Dartmoor Foxhounds, a position he held for over 20 years. In this role he befriended the farming community. He kept a stud of some 20 horses and was described as the ‘mainstay and inspiration’ of the Plymouth Polo Club.

At the age of 60 he returned to active service at the outbreak of the Second World War and sadly lost his life in 1940 when his vessel was sunk by a mine. He had entered the Navy as a Britannia cadet at the age of 13 in 1893 and as a midshipman served in China. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1900 and two years later joined the Vernon to specialise in torpedoes serving on many ships afterwards as torpedo officer. He retired in 1911 but re-joined for the Great War, when he was on the staff of the Admiral of Mine sweeping. He was made O.B.E. and promoted to Commander from the date of the Armistice.

In 1991 the site was sold for re-development, to provide a boost to Ivybridge’s housing stock at that time. The project retained the front façade of the hotel but everything else was completely demolished.

A project to improve the riverside area to the front shortly followed. A scheme, assisted by a European grant, transformed the former hotel car park and overgrown garden area into an attractive open space with new trees, riverside walk with viewing points and picnic area. The old Pelton wheel water turbine, which had been saved from the provender mill (Lee & Son) in Fore Street, was placed on permanent display here.

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This riverside area is also the location for a Dartmoor granite memorial commemorating the American servicemen of the 116th Infantry Regiment. In 2001, a memorial was erected as a tribute to the US forces who stayed in the area. The monument has an American combat helmet carved on the top and is inscribed with the words “Dedicated to all the American Servicemen based in Ivybridge 1943-1944 particularly the 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Regiment who made many friends with local residents. Sadly many of these men were to die on, or after, D-Day the 6th June 1944”.

References : Articles from the Ivor Martin archive collection kindly donated by Lesley Martin

THE LONDON HOTEL

For around 200 years from the mid-17th century, the principle mode of transport for the long-distance traveller was the stage coach or mail coach. Having to make frequent stops, a comprehensive network of coaching inns was established to support the coaches and passengers. These inns provided stabling and often fresh teams of horses to replace tired ones. Trained hostlers or “ostlers” were employed to tend to the horses and were able to change teams rapidly, enabling the Royal Mail to adhere to its demanding delivery schedules. The inns also catered for passengers with refreshments and overnight accommodation. The domestic services at the inns were overseen by a housekeeper, quite often the wife of the owner. Over time, the inns improved with the emergence of dining rooms or “coffee rooms” as they were called, making for a more pleasurable stay. The term hotel (taken from french) was rare in England before 1800. The earliest reference to hotel can be traced to an advertisement in 1770 for The Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. This hotel reached the national news headlines in 2016 following a devastating fire.
With the improvements to the road between Exeter and Plymouth, a new inn called the “London Inn” was established sometime during the 1780s in Ivybridge, located conveniently on the coach road at the bridge. The owner was Henry Rivers, an inn-keeper from Modbury. He was a shrewd businessman and invested heavily within Ivybridge. He became the owner of Stowford Estate buying it from William Dunsterville. He also purchased a number of other leases in the village. However, his business activities were curtailed in 1816 when he was declared bankrupt. His grandson, William Rivers, was set to carry on at the London Inn running it with his wife, the daughter of John and Ann Stevenitts, the innkeepers of The Ivybridge Hotel.
In 1800 the inn was described as “an excellent good house … cool and pleasant with a romantic walk on the other side of the river above the bridge”, whilst in 1830 The Western Times carried an advertisement which read

“ London Inn, Ivybridge – having succeeded to the above Inn, W. Rivers avails himself of this opportunity of soliciting the patronage of the Nobility, his Friends, Commercial Gentlemen, and the Public generally. The Premises being replete with every comfort for families, he trusts his endeavours will ensure him success. Good stabling, Lock-up Coach Houses”.
A painting entitled Ivy Bridge London Inn dating from the 1780s clearly depicts the inn alongside the bridge

The Duke of Wellington visits Plymouth

In 1846 there was a well-documented visit to Plymouth by the Duke of Wellington. Serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces he was due to inspect the defences. The Duke was able to make use of the “iron road” for the majority of his journey, leaving London from Paddington and not Waterloo! However, the railway line at that time only extended as far south as Teignmouth, so from there he had to travel the rest of the journey by horse-drawn coach. At Ivybridge the coach stopped to change horses as was the norm but none were available. It seems likely that this happened at the London Hotel. As word travelled, Wellington not wishing to draw attention to himself, slipped away and continued his journey to Plymouth on foot, knowing his carriage would catch him up once new horses were obtained. Before long the regular “Tally Ho”, Exeter to Devonport coach pulled up alongside, the guard asked whether the Duke would do him the honour of taking a seat on his coach. The Duke, now well into his 70s, graciously declined the offer deciding to continue with his walk. He was eventually met by his carriage and taken to Plymouth before making his inspection at the Citadel the following day.
Whilst there are no memorials commemorating the visit, there are several reminders in and around Plymouth, Devonport and Torpoint, with street names of Wellington and indeed Waterloo.
The London Hotel changed hands many times after the long stewardship under the Rivers family. If one studies the directories, it seems that the hotel adopted the name of each proprietor.
From 1861 until 1878, the hotel was being run by William Mallett and his family, with the establishment simply described as ‘Mallett’s Hotel’ in news articles. The hotel having a large concert hall, private gardens and a ‘favourite resort of visitors and tourists.’
By 1889, the name had changed to ‘Bohn’s Hotel’ reflecting the new proprietor, James Bohn. It would appear he was an experienced hotelier, having run the Ilfracombe Hotel and, at the time, the proprietor of the ‘Grand Hotel’ on the Hoe, described as ‘the only hotel with a sea view’. This would explain the census of 1891 recording a Frank Edward Bohn as Hotel Manager at the London Hotel, aged just 23. He was the son of James and one assumes he ran the hotel whilst his father remained in Plymouth.
When the hotel was sold in the early 20th-century it became known as Millbourne’s London Hotel. The proprietor was now Elizabeth Millbourne. The hotel was described as ‘comprising of bar, smoking, commercial, and tea-rooms, 3 private sitting-rooms, billiard and large assembly rooms, 16 bedrooms, a public bar known as the London Hotel Tap, stabling for 24 horses, motor garage, lovely gardens and riverside walks, the whole site covering about 1 ¾ acres’.
The London Hotel during the latter part of the nineteenth century was the venue for Petty Sessions in the area. Handling lesser legal cases both criminal and civil, they were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. They were normally prominent landowners or gentlemen. Henry John Fice Lee and members of Allen family, owners of the paper mill, served as Justices of the Peace in Ivybridge.
In more recent times the London Hotel was a very popular venue for countless social gatherings and will be recalled with fond memories by many within Ivybridge.
The ballroom was the venue for the 1st Ivybridge Scout Gang Shows in the 1940s to 50s and was also used by the Ivybridge Garden & Allotment Association for their Autumn Shows.
Stowford Paper Mill was a regular patron of the hotel and the Ivybridge Young Farmers regularly used the hotel for gatherings and events as did Ivybridge Badminton Club from time to time.
A great annual event was the opening meet of the Dartmoor Foxhounds at Stowford Lodge lawn. This was followed by the annual Hunt Dinner at the London Hotel. Commander Davey, Master of the Dartmoor Hounds was always in attendance leading the merriment.
Commander Charles Henry Davey had settled in Ivybridge soon after the First World War, living as a bachelor at Beaconville. He was a very competent horseman and soon accepted the Mastership of the Dartmoor Foxhounds, a position he held for over 20 years. In this role he befriended the farming community. He kept a stud of some 20 horses and was described as the ‘mainstay and inspiration’ of the Plymouth Polo Club.
At the age of 60 he returned to active service at the outbreak of the Second World War and sadly lost his life in 1940 when his vessel was sunk by a mine. He had entered the Navy as a Britannia cadet at the age of 13 in 1893 and as a midshipman served in China. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1900 and two years later joined the Vernon to specialise in torpedoes serving on many ships afterwards as torpedo officer. He retired in 1911 but re-joined for the Great War, when he was on the staff of the Admiral of Mine sweeping. He was made O.B.E. and promoted to Commander from the date of the Armistice.
London Hotel front facade and scaffolding
In 1991 the site was sold for re-development, to provide a boost to Ivybridge’s housing stock at that time. The project retained the front façade of the hotel but everything else was completely demolished.
A project to improve the riverside area to the front shortly followed. A scheme, assisted by a European grant, transformed the former hotel car park and overgrown garden area into an attractive open space with new trees, riverside walk with viewing points and picnic area. The old Pelton wheel water turbine, which had been saved from the provender mill (Lee & Son) in Fore Street, was placed on permanent display here.
This riverside area is also the location for a Dartmoor granite memorial commemorating the American servicemen of the 116th Infantry Regiment. In 2001, a memorial was erected as a tribute to the US forces who stayed in the area. The monument has an American combat helmet carved on the top and is inscribed with the words “Dedicated to all the American Servicemen based in Ivybridge 1943-1944 particularly the 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Regiment who made many friends with local residents. Sadly many of these men were to die on, or after, D-Day the 6th June 1944”.
References : Articles from the Ivor Martin archive collection kindly donated by Lesley Martin