Provided by local historian, Geoff Elkin
The Swan Hotel, located in the heart of Stafford, Staffordshire, is believed to have been built on the site of an old monastic college.
Thought to have originally been two houses that were combined in the mid 1700’s by the construction of an archway that once gave entrance to the yard at the rear of the hotel, and the construction of rooms above.
One of the original houses is believed to have been called The Swan. During the mid eighteenth century the houses were converted to an inn, accommodating travellers between the growing industrial areas of South Lancashire and The Black Country.
The early nineteenth century saw passengers arriving by coach at all times of the day and night and business was booming.
However the opening of the railway line through the town in 1837 saw a dramatic decline in business for The Swan.
The hotel has been mentioned in various writings, most famous of which was by Charles Dickens.
The famous author found himself stranded between trains for the night in Stafford, and wrote of Stafford being,
“as dull and dead town as anyone could desire not to see”
and described The Swan itself as,
“The Dodo in the dull High Street”.
He also wrote,
“it provides me with a tactless desert of a sitting room, with a chair for each year, a table for every month and a waste of sideboard where a lonely China vase pines in a corner for its mate long departed and will never make match with the candlestick in the opposite corner if it lives till Doomsday. The dodo has nothing in the larder. Even now I behold the boots returning with my sole in a piece of paper and with that portion of my dinner, the boots, perceiving me at the blank bow window, slaps his leg as he comes across the road, pretending it is something else. The Dodo excludes the outer air. When I mount up to my bedroom, a smell of closeness and flue gets lazily up my nose like sleepy snuff. The loose little bits of carpet writhe under my tread and take wormy shapes The Dodo is narrow minded as to towels, expect me to wash on a freemasons apron without the trimming; when I asked for soap gives me a strong hearted something white, with no more lather in it than the Elgin marbles. The Dodo has seen better days”.
Since Dicken’s time The Swan has seen several changes. Stafford Race Course brought many affluent visitors to the area, and after renovation in 1886, the manufacturing boom brought salesmen, agents, contractors and businessmen to the hotel to conduct their business.
Motor travel brought the hotel into the 20th century, with the introduction of garage space. By 1924 The Swan had the approval of both the AA and the RAC.
Today, Stafford has seen great transformation. But until now, The Swan has been allowed to slip back to the state Dickens described in his writings.
Acquired by The Lewis Partnership in 2002, who also own The Moat House, Acton Trussell, the hotel has successfully returned to its former glory days and make The Swan a great place to be.