I have always been curious about the heritage of old buildings, drawn to their sense of character, history and the intrigue of who might have lived or worked there before me.
While refurbishing The Maytime Inn in the village of Asthall recently, my team uncovered much about the building’s rich past, most notably, its history as a blacksmith’s shop.
The unusually large chimney set within one of the original eighteenth century walls made us suspect it could have had a former purpose, and after a little more digging we discovered that since 1726 the innkeepers are believed to have also been farriers. For this reason, the inn was called ‘The Three Horseshoes’ for over 200 years, a name we are delighted to be returning to when we reopen the pub this week.
It seems being an innkeeper was not a full-time occupation during this period, with many proprietors taking on other professions to subsidise their income. This is traditionally how pubs such as The Carpenters, The Drapers or The Builders’ Arms would also have been given their names.
Records suggest that farriers worked in the oldest part of The Three Horseshoes’ building, with the shoeing of horses happening in the garden outside – most likely travellers in need of repair as they journeyed through the countryside.
As someone who has reared, ridden and loved horses for many years, I like imagining a bucolic scene like this unfolding in the heart of a village meeting place. You will still notice lots of horseshoes dotted around the pub, from the logo drawn by my great friend Hugo Guinness to the antique horseshoes placed above some of the doorways and fireplaces where they are thought to ward off evil spirits.
I hope that in restoring the original name, we are able to honour this part of the pub’s history. It is comforting to think that the next chapter for The Three Horseshoes will see it returned to its roots; a legacy continued for future generations.