Public house probably since the mid-C18, possibly with origins as a C17 house.
Reasons for Designation
115 and 115a Friargate, a public house probably since the mid-C18, and possibly with origins as a C17 house, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* probably of late-C17 origins and retaining a significant proportion of fabric at least as early as the C18;
* with numerous features of interest throughout, some in the cellar in particular likely to relate to the use as a public house.
* as an example of a public house almost certainly created to take advantage of the notorious gin craze of the early-C18;
* for its association with Thomas Swindlehurst and his decision to forswear all alcohol, which anticipated the advocacy of teetotalism by the temperance movement, of which he was one of the leading crusaders.
The building stands on the edge of the area of medieval Preston, just outside the bar depicted across Friargate on a plan of approximately 1690. John Chorley is thought to have had a house here in 1668, and is shown as occupying the property on the 1690 plan.
A detailed map of the 1715 Battle of Preston suggests that the property escaped the fires set by General Wills in an attempt to dislodge the Jacobite rebels besieged to the south of the bar, which stood just to the south of what is now Marsh Lane. The 1732 poor survey records the property as a house, let to a widow Shawe and occupied by Thomas Shawe. The use as a public house began between this survey and 1796, when a landlord of this Plough Inn was first recorded (there had been another Plough Inn on Church Street, which closed by 1701).
The mash-pit and C-shaped stand in the cellar probably relate to a gin still and have been identified as likely to date from the middle of the C18 (the gin craze was largely over by 1757). The Gin Act of 1751 required gin licensees to trade from premises with a rental value of at least ten pounds a year, which probably excluded this property. This suggests that the still-related features probably date from between 1732 and 1751. The quality of the stonework suggests that the well in the cellar pre-dates the change of use.
Around 1831 the inn was advertised to let, together with an attached dram shop. This was probably at the rear and accessed from Plough Yard. An advertisement for the sale of the inn, dated 6 July 1833, does not mention the dram shop. This might have ceased to operate as a result of government advocacy against wines and spirits, including relaxation of brewing and licensing laws in the Beerhouse Act of 1830. However, an advertisement of 1854 for the auction of the inn stated that it had a large vault, ‘doing a first rate business’, presumably referring to the cellar. Probably around this time (based on the refuse recovered when it was excavated) the well was filled in.
The building appears with its current footprint on the 1:1,056 Ordnance Survey (OS) Town Plan of 1849, and the adjacent yard is named as Plough Yard. The inn itself is named on the 1:500 OS Town Plan of approximately 1890. In the 1890s the name was changed to the Hotel National, but it closed in 1913. Probably in the late-C19 the front wall had false timber-framing applied, and this is probably also when the roof structure above the first-floor front room was replaced. From 1923 for nearly 100 years the building was used as a restaurant or shop, with the upper floor used as a meeting hall by the Oddfellows Society from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Between 2015 and 2018 the building was restored and repaired. Render was removed from the front wall, the pvc first-floor front window was replaced with a timber bay window, and the C19 leaded circular window in the gable was discovered and restored. The cellar floor was excavated along with the well which was revealed. The building reopened as a public house in 2019.
Thomas Swindlehurst (1785-1861) was a pioneer advocate of total abstinence. He was born at Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland. By 1830 he was operating a business making rollers for cotton machinery from what is now Marsh Lane, and in 1841 he was living in Great Shaw Street, both within 100m of the Plough Inn. However, by the autumn of 1830 he was in considerable debt due to drunkenness. One of his creditors, John Finch (an iron merchant of Liverpool) was a member of a temperance society in Liverpool, and persuaded Swindlehurst to become the first man in Preston to sign the temperance pledge to abstain from spirits, and drink ale and wine only in moderation. However, Swindlehurst found it impossible to drink moderately. On 6 March 1832, while drinking in the Plough, he resolved to totally abstain from alcohol for a year, a pledge which he kept for the rest of his life.
Joseph Livesey (known as the father of temperance) named Swindlehurst as deserving to be known as one of the ‘men of Preston’, along with the seven who signed a pledge of total abstinence on 1 September 1832 and are commemorated on the Preston Abstinence Memorial (Grade II, National Heritage List for England entry 1458333). Swindlehurst became known as the king of the reformed drunkards. He lead the first temperance procession in the world, in Preston in 1833, and also took part in the first temperance crusade around east and south Lancashire in July that year. Twenty years later, riding again in the annual temperance procession, he was still hailed as the king of the teetotallers, and a large crown was carried above his head. From 1832 until his death he spent much of his time and money advocating the cause around the country.
Public house, mid-C18, possibly with origins as a C17 house.
MATERIALS: brick (hand-made) with a slate roof.
PLAN: a linear range in three parts.
EXTERIOR: the building is two storeys tall with a gabled attic. The wall is of hand-made brick laid in English Garden Wall bond, with three stretcher courses between header courses. The attic has a round, leaded window and the first floor has a timber, canted oriel window. The ground floor has a timber shop front with a timber awning box. The shop front is framed by pilasters with consoles. At the left a six-panel door (flush) and at the right a half-glazed door (recessed), both with overlights, flank a blind shop window with three lights above and a low stall riser tiled in embossed tiles. The stall riser returns in the right-hand doorway, which also has a monochrome-tiled floor.
The side and rear walls are largely obscured by the attached buildings. Towards the rear, the north wall faces onto Plough Yard, and is also of hand-made brick. This two-storey rear block has a flat roof. The rear of the front block is gabled, and largely obscured by the central block, which has a gable of a lower pitch, with a door opening onto the flat roof of the rear block. The central block’s gable is also of hand-made bricks.
INTERIOR: the ground-floor retains a truncated ceiling-beam supported by a cast-iron column with twin barley-twist shafts with decorative capitals, timber ceiling joists and geometric decorative ceilings with boarded walls concealing some historic wallpaper. Two semi-circular brick arches survive in the north wall, one bricked up and the other opening into a shallow recess. Stone steps access the cellar, which retains walls and a shallow-vaulted ceiling of historic brickwork, as well as the rendered mash-pit and still-stand. A circular well lined with dressed buff sandstone blocks descends approximately 14 metres. Above the mouth of the well a ring of five courses of modern brickwork is let into the floor, with a glass cover. The attic floor retains a reed-and-plaster ceiling, historic roof timbers and a small fireplace. The front first-floor room retains plaster cornicing but is open to the roof, which has machine-sawn king-post trusses and is under-boarded. A fireplace survives to the rear.