Joseph Root and Aileen Keeble, daughter of Albert Keeble, behind the Three Cups Hotel bar on their wedding day; with Albert's best friend, Berty Keeling, in the foreground to the left, 1949.
"... Albert George Keeble, licensee of the Three Cups Hotel, Harwich, was summoned for supplying intoxicating liquor to James Benellack during non permitting hours. James Benellack, Church-street, Harwich, was summoned for consuming intoxicating liquor during non permitting hours, Edwards Horace Staniland, a seaman, was summoned for aiding and abetting Benellack to consume the liquor. Defendant Keeble pleaded guilty to both summonses and defendant Benellack pleaded not guilty. Defendant Staniland did not appear but wrote asking the Bench to take a lenient view of the case.
Outlining the case for the prosecution Mr. Tinsley said at 3.45 p.m. on Sunday March 2, P.s. Stapler went into the Three Cups Hotel and entered the hotel bar. There he saw Benellack standing near a shelf on which there were four glasses partly filled with beer and another on a table nearby. The sergeant asked if any of the beer belonged to him and he replied “Yes, this one is mine, I live here.” Defendant Keeble then came in followed by Staniland and the sergeant pointed out that Benellack was drinking. Keeble replied “Yes he is a friend of Mr. Staniland, a guest who is staying here and who bought him a drink.” The sergeant asked further questions and found that Benellack did not live at the hotel and was only visiting Staniland.
Mr. Tinsley explained that a man staying at the hotel was entitled to have a drink at any time, but was not entitled to entertain anyone who came to see him. P.s. Stapler and P.c. Brown gave evidence in support of this statement. Defendant Keeble said he had misinterpreted the law in thinking that a guest at the hotel was entitled to buy a drink and said the thing was not done intentionally. Defendant Benellack denied having said he was living at the hotel. He was was invited to see his friend Mr. Staniland who asked him to have a drink and he accepted not knowing it was not allowed.
The Bench fined Keeble £2 for supplying the drink and £1 for aiding and abetting Benellack to consume, and Benellack and Staniland were fined £1 each."
(The Standard, 12 April, 1941)
Fatal Boat Accident. - We have to record another melancholy accident which has occurred of our shores during the past week, resulting in the death by drowning of two persons. The circumstances, briefly stated, are as follows. On Tuesday morning last a gentleman named James Harris, from London, who had been staying at the “Three Cups” Hotel on the previous night, engaged the lugsail boat Marquise of Lorne belonging to a waterman named James Watchman, and started for Walton-on-the-Naze about half-past nine a.m. The day was fine and the wind was from S.W., rather squally. All appears to have gone well until about mid-day when the boat had proceeded to within a mile or two of her destination. It is supposed that a sudden gust then caught and threw her back, and being heavily ballasted she filled and sank. This supposition is apparently the right one as the mast of the boat was subsequently seen above water at low tide, with the sail set. It is reported that some Harwich watermen were within hailing distance and saw the boat shortly before she sank. One of these men states that he distinctly heard shouting but was under the impression that it came from the shore. If this be correct, it was, in all probability, one of the drowning men, although the sudden disappearance of the boat not giving rise to any alarm has not been clearly explained. The body of the gentleman was picked up at 2.30 p.m. the same day having floated. He is described as being very stout, and £5 5s. In money was found upon his person besides a gold watch and Albert chain, a locket, large gold ring, and excursion ticket No. 186, for the Woolwich Companys boats, a cigar case, and diary written up to the previous night. Our Walton-on-the-Naze correspondent writing on Wednesday evening states that the boat was recovered on Wednesday, but the body of the waterman could not be found up to post time, when the coastguard were creeping for it. He was in the habit of wearing heavy water boots which would preclude any chance of his being able to save his life even if he was able to swim. The affair has created a painful interest in this town owing to the fact that the deceased gentleman was in company with several residents who were in the “Three Cups” Hotel on Monday evening and that Watcham has relatives here. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 7 July 1877, p.1.)
THE RECENT FATAL BOAT ACCIDENT. – An inquest was held at the “Three Cups” Hotel, an Thursday last, by W. Codd, Esq., coroner, touching the death of James Watcham, a waterman who was drowned under circumstances detailed in our columns last week, and whose body was discovered by James Fincham, mariner, whilst he was fishing for lobsters off Walton-on-the-Naze, on Wednesday last. The evidence of James Bennett, waterman and the son of the deceased having been taken, Police-Inspector Guy identified the body and stated that it was towed in by the smack to which Finchman belonged, and handed over to him. The coroner having summed up, a verdict to the affect that deceased was drowned by the accidental swamping of his boat was returned. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 14 July 1877, p.1.)
On Monday afternoon last, at the "Three Cups" Hotel, Messrs. Frank Lewis and Kemp, auctioneers of Gresham Street, London, disposed of some freehold property, consisting of three dwelling houses, Nos. 50 and 51, West Street, and a cottage adjacent. One of the house is occupied by Mrs. Richmond, at a rental of £23 per annum, the next one to Mrs. Nunn, at £31 10s. per annum, and the cottageis let for £10 per annum, thus making a total of £64 10s. per annum. The number of persons who attended the sale was about a dozen, and the first bid, £300, was given by Mr. E. Butcher. The property was ultimately knocked down to Mr. James Durrant for £670. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 6 July 1878, p.1.)
Freehold House Property in the Borough of Harwich, and Copyhold Property in the Parishes of Ramsey and Wix. Mr. Henry D. Grice, is favoured with instructions from the Trustees, under the Will of the late J. H. Nalborough, Esq., deceased, to Sell by Public Auction, At the "Three Cups" Hotel, Harwich, On Wednesday, August 28th, 1878, At Two for Three o'clock in the Afternoon, the following Freehold and Copyhold Properties comprising:-
4 Substantial Brick Built Freehold Houses, being Nos. 6, 7, and 8 Eastgate Street, and No. 1, Castlegate Street, in the several occupations of Aurthur Bowling, George Cullingford, William Maskell, and James Warner, at a gross rental of £54 4s.
A Freehold House and Shop, being No. 12, St. Austin's Lane, in the occupation of James Ward, at a rental of £14.
Two Ranges of Brick Built Cottages and Premises with good gardens, in the parish of Ramsey, in the occupation of Scott, Saxby, and Others, at rentals amounting to £52, and a Copyhold of the Manor of Michaelstowe Hall.
The Public House called the Oak with about 4 acres of Arable Land adjoining, with good garden, barn and outbuildings, in the parish of Wix, in the tenure of Messrs. Steward Patteson & Co., let under lease at a rental of £35, and Copyhold of the Manor of Wix Park Hall. For further particulars and conditions of sale, apply to Mr. R. S. Barnes, No. 63, Church Street, Harwich; of the Auctioneer, 10, King's Quay Street, Harwich; and at the place of sale. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Staurday 17 & 24 August 1878, p.1)
An inquest was held by W. Codd, Esq., Coroner, at the Three Cups Hotel, on Monday afternoon, touching the death of Joseph Sanvel, a French seaman, who had been serving on board the ship Bombay, of Bath, Maine, U.S., and had died on Saturday morning last. The jury was composed as follows:- E. R. Bird (foreman), H. D. Grice, A. A. Parsons, J . Self, W. Lawrence, J. J. Crane, J. Calver, W. Carman, J. Smith, T. Adams, H. Hill, and J. Lambert. Mr O. J. Williams, Consular Agent was present. The Coroner, in operating the proceedings, read a letter he had received from Inspector Guy, giving an outline of the case. The jury then proceeded to view the body lying in the mortuary, and the following evidence was taken.
Charles Ridley, of New Orleans, U.S., a man of Herculean frame, said he was chief-officer of the Bombay, a full-rigged ship. The deceased was taken on board on the 28th ulto., at Bremerhaven, as an able seaman, when he was very drunk. It was generally the case at foreign ports that the boarding masters brought the men aboard more or less intoxicated. Deceased came aboard about 2.30 a.m. The crew were mustered to see if they were all present, and the ship was cast off and hauled towards the dock gates. The deceased seaman made several attempts to jump overboard, and witness put him in irons and locked him up in the carpenters workshop. In about five minutes he broke the door open and jumped overboard. The ice on the water was very thin, so he went through. The distance he fell was about 18 feet. They had him hauled aboard again, and his wet clothes were taken off him as well as the irons, and he was put to his bunk after dry clothes had been put on. The berth he was in was about 3ft. by 6ft. He had a bed, pillow, and blanket and was warmly covered. He went to work the same morning when he had become partly sobered, and did not appear to be much the worse for the fall or immersion. He seemed to be allright until about four o'clock the next morning, when he complained of soreness in the chest and shivering. Witness told him to go to his bed, and he did so. Linniment was given to him to rub on his chest with, but he continued in the same state, and complained all the next day and night of the soreness in his chest. Witness looked at his chest, but saw no marks or redness whatsoever, On the morning of 30th the ship got ashore on the Gunfleet Sand. The deceased was in his bunk the whole day, continuing to rub the linniment on his chest, still complaining. The vessel was towed off the sand and into Harwichj harbour the same evening at 7 o'clock. Deceased did not complain any more.
The Coroner: Did you send for a doctor?
Witness: The captain was absent, and I was waiting for him to return. He did not order a doctor as I am aware. I changed the medicine and gave him a pou7ltice.
The Cornoner: Did he express a wish for a doctor?
Witness: No, the only thing he told me was that he would be allright by and by: I gave him poultices and plenty of covering, as I supposed he had a fever upon him. When I retired at night I gave orders of the watchman to have his poultices renewed every hour. Deceased remained in the same state on 31st (Friday), still keeping his berth, and the poultices were still kept on him. At 6 a.m. the next morning (Saturday) I was called and told that the man was dead. I went to see him, and upon going to his berth found him lying on his side quite dead and cold... (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 8 February 1879, p1.)
In our report of the deaths that had happened during the week in the borough, we stated that Mrs. Knott was a relative of Mr. John Bull of the Three Cups Hotel. Such report is incorrect. The deceased lady was the eldest daughter of the Rev. J. N. Bull, formerly many years vicar of the parish, and in no way related to the above family. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 8 February 1879, p1.)
Mr. Henry D. Grice. Is favoured with Instructions from the proprietor, to Sell by Public Auction, At the "Three Cups" Hotel, On Wednesday, August 28th, 1878, At Two for Three o'clock in the afternoon, all that substantial brick-built freehold residence, situate and being No. 47, Kings Head Street, in the Borough of Harwich, in the occupation of Mrs. Lord. Containing on the 1st floor:- 3 spacious rooms and pantry. On the 2nd floor:- 5 bedrooms; and on the 3rd floor:- 6 bedrooms and a loft; good cellar, kitchen, and out offices, with large paved yard, 2 pumps and rain and water tank, a side entrance, and right of way into King's Quay Street. Particulars and Conditions of Sale may be had of Mr. A. Tolhurst, Solicitor, New Road, Gravesend; Mr. R. S. Barnes, Church Street; or the Auctioneer, 10 King's Quay Street, Harwich, and the place of sale. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 24 August 1878, p.1.)
Property Sale.- On Wednesday afternoon last Mr. Henry D. Grice offered for sale, a quantity of valuable and desirable household property, situated in Harwich, and Wix, at the Three Cups Hotel. There was a good attendance of bidders, and the following were the lots sold:- Lot 1, Mr. Maskell, "255; Lot 3, Mr. W. Harvey, £230; lot 6, Messrs. Steward Patterson & Co., of Norwich, £465. The other lots were not sold. After the above a substantial freehold residence was offered for sale, situated in King's Head Street, in the occupation of Mrs. Lord, which was purchased by Mr. J. B. Durrant for £330, the vendors were represented by Mr. R. S. Barnes, Harwich, and Mr. Tolhurst, of Gravesend. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 31 August 1878, p.1.)
SUDDEN DEATH AT HARWICH. About half-past eleven on Thursday, a fireman, in the employ of the G.E.R. Company, at Parkston, named Walter Green, dropped down dead in King's Quay Street, just opposite the Three Cups Hotel stables. It appears that Green complained of feeling unwell to Mr. Jasper, landlord of the Duke of Edinburgh, early in the morning, and asked to be supplied with some rum. This was given him, and as he appeared to be getting better, although stopping in the bar for nearly two hours, Mr. Jasper asked him if he could take him home. Green declined the offer, and left the house, remarking that he would walk. When opposite the Three Cups Hotel stables, he was noticed by two men, named Thos. Sleeth and Saml. Sargeant, to lean against a post and gasp, and then fall down. Medical assistance was summoned, but death had taken place before Doctor Stuart arrived. Green was 35 years of age, and is said to be a native of Hull. The body was removed to the mortuary, under the superintendence of Inspector Amos.
The facts of the death were immediately reported to the Coroner, but on Friday morning Inspector Amos received a telegram to the effect that an inquest was not necessary. (Harwich & Dovercourt Free Press, Saturday 5 March 1898, p.4)
During excavations in Church-street, Harwich, for the laying of a new sewer, the brick vaulted cellars of the old Three Cups Hotel were found jutting out [under the road.] It means that for years the town's traffic [have driven over] these brick arches where in stage coach [.... ] the wine was stored. This confirms yet again [... ] that Harwich is honeycombed with cellars. [... ] part of one of the brick arches. The cellars [... ] as the sewer work is completed [... ]. (The Standard, 1962; from another publication, plate 36, caption: A view of the 1960s.... Opposite is the discovery of the old brick vaulted cellars of the 3 Cups, pictured in the 'Standard' in 1962. They were found jutting out into Church Street and believed to have been the hotel's wine store.)
From the 1740s to the 1760s magistrates adjourned to the Three Cups, the White Hart, or the King's Head after quarter sessions. In 1816 the Three Cups accommodated administrative and legal meetings, where a new assembly room had been built in 1807.
"In 1769 it was decided to rebuild the Guildhall, and meetings were held in the Three Cups till work was completed in 1770." (The Borough of Harwich 1318-1974, L. T. Weaver, Harwich, 1974, p.V.)
The guide states: "The principle Inns are the Three Cups, and the White Hart; and, as they have constant influx of company, visitors are sure to find good accommodation and entertainment; indeed, such is the hospitable reception experienced by foreigners, who land here from the packets, that the jolly host of the Three Cups, Mr William Bull, has acquired among them, the national appellation of John Bull."
Sir John and Madam Abigail Adams sent a letter to George Washington's Aide, Colonel William Stephens Smith from the Three Cups, Harwich, on 5th August 1786: "Saturday at The Sign of the 3 Cups , a tolerable house where a better is not to be had, with a fine view of the water from 3 windows, and a memento mori from the fourth, viz a burying ground and church within half a rod of us". (Colonel William Smith and Lady, Katherine Metcalf Roof, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1929, p.140)
Series seven episode four of the cult comedy series Hi-Di-Hi, was filmed in Olde Harwich. 'Spaghetti Galore' was partly filmed at the former Three Cups Public House, next to St Nicholas' Church, which was used as 'Tony's Trattoria':
It's Gladys' birthday and Clive (David Griffin) takes her out for a meal. However, Harold Fox (Gavin Richards), Maplin's hatchet man, also invites her and she feels obligated to go. She arranges to meet him early and they go to the local trattoria (The Three Cups) for spaghetti but Gladys (Ruth Madoc) feigns illness and Peggy (Su Pollard) whisks her off on a motor-bike to meet Clive - who takes her back to the trattoria for more spaghetti. After her date with Clive she is treated to a birthday surprise by the other staff - which turns out to be a trip to the trattoria for another meal of spaghetti!
At the Three Cups Inn, Harwich, whither she went with the intention of following her husband, Mrs Coke, wife of Henry C. merchant from Hampshire, who went lately in the packet to Cuxhaven, leaving an infant 14 months old. (The Gentleman's Magazine, April 1806, vol.99, p.388.)
In 1592, Thomas Thompson, the future father-in-law of Mayflower master Christopher Jones, master of Hawkins' ship the Dainty, had engaged in battle and captured the mighty Portuguese ship 'Madre de Dios' out in the Azores. When he returned to London, he stopped off at Harwich, and sold his share of the fabulously rich cargo to Richard Goodwyn of the Three Cups.
Richard Goodwyn, dwelling at the Three Cups in Harwich, was reported to have 'bought out of Dainty of Sir John Hawkins so many calicoes, silks and spices as came to £100, all which were taken out of the carrack' (Pirate Nation - Elizabeth I and her Royal Sea Rovers, David Childs)
Church Street, N. E. Side : -
(3). The Three Cups Hotel, N.W. of the church, was built early in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and N.E. There is a 17th-century addition between the wings. Inside the building two room have original moulded ceiling-beams or joists. The staircase of c.1700 has turned and twisted balusters, close string and moulded hanrail. A room on the first floor has a late 16th-century plaster ceiling (no longer extant) with oval wreaths, Tudor roses, fleur-de-lis and conventional foliage. (Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England.), An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume III, London, 1922, p.135, photo p.234, no.3)
The Gothic Lodge was registered in Harwich in 1792, renumbered 227 in 1814 and erased in 1828. From 1806 the Lodge met at the Three Cups Tavern, Church Street, Harwich, Essex. A Gothic Lodge certificate is dated 3rd September 1811 and was issued to William Garred. Signatories are John Sans(ville); S W (Francis?) Stevens perhaps related to John Stevens another member in 1794; J W (Thos?) Hanson and Secretary Samuel Hesltine. A Third Degree certificate of the Gothic Lodge No.186 meeting at the Three Cups Tavern, Harwich, Essex, was issued to William Garred by Grand Lodge of England at London on the 14th April AL 5812. AD 1812.
There was a reading room in the Three Cups by 1840 (72. T. Wright, Hist. Essex i. 349)
The Guildhall which we see today was erected in 1769, when it was decided to rebuild and enlarge the premises at a cost of £1,086 5s 3 1/2d. 'During the alterations, meetings were held across the road, in the Three Cups, which had a fine assembly room.' (Weaver, L.T [Harwich Archivist] The Guildhall at Harwich, Essex Countryside, Vol.30, no.309, p.70)
Voyages of Discovery in the Arctic and Antarctic Seas, and round the World by Robert McCormick (for research)
The main inn in Harwich in the late 1700s was the Bull Inn, named neither after an animal nor John Bull, but rather the proprietors, whose surname was Bull; also known as the Three Cups Hotel & Tavern, it remained in the Bull family until the 1880s. (Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland, 1810, p.82,83)
The above advertisement was found on the front page of the Harwich, Dovercourt, and Essex Halfpenny Newsman, on Saturday 25th November 1871.
Percy Hales, late of the Three Cups Hotel, Harwich, in the county of Essex, deceased, who died on 11th day of April, 1936. (The London Gazette, 22 May 1936)
On 28th December 1848, Mr. Bagnold, the Three Cups, Harwich. Requests permission to supply Lord George Beauclerk with topmasts and deals to build floating stages to enable the horses, which have been aboard the transports for six weeks, to be brought ashore during the neap tides.
The death was announced, at about midday on 27th February 1875, of Mr Joseph Leech Bull, landlord of the Three Cups and farmer of Blue House Farm. The deceased was an old and highly respected inhabitant. The licence was transferred to John Bull whose son William was to become brewer at the 'workhouse brewery'. (Harwich and Dovercourt Pubs, P. R. Goodwin, Gloucestershire, 2004, p.32.)
Death of Mr J. L. Bull. We regret to announce the death, about midday yesterday, of Mr. Joseph Leech Bull, of the Three Cups Hotel. The cause of death was paralysis. Deceased was an old and highly respected inhabitant. (East Anglian Daily Times, Saturday 27 February 1875)
Petty Sessions, Yesterday. The licence granted to Joseph Leech Bull (Deceased) of the Three Cups Hotel, was transferred to John Bull; and the licence granted to Robert Lewis, of the Angel Inn, was transferred to Herbert Gooch. (East Anglian Daily Times, Wednesday 5 May 1875)
In 1901 Mr Bray, the landlord of the Three Cups, 64 Church Street, Harwich, was charged with permitting his house to be used as a resort for persons of ill repute - these persons being ladies of the night. The case, after evidence was submitted, was dismissed. (Harwich and Dovercourt Pubs, P. R. Goodwin, Gloucestershire, 2004, p.33.)
In a contemporary newspaper account of a story about a woman described as, 'an inebriate, an incorrigible and degraded woman born around 1852': "When Louisa was searched a small bottle of whisky was found and 8s 7d in her hand. She had been refused drinks at the Three Cups and Duke of Edinburgh, but said 'they will not serve me in pubs so I send out for it'. She asked to be put under a bond for six or twelve months, and she would keep it. She was fined 9s and 12s costs or one month's labour. She said she would pay it, 'but you only have 8s 8d.' She said she would pay with a sovereign and to the surprise of the female searcher, fumbled in the finger of her glove and found the sovereign. She paid and was liberated; 'too artful even for the searcher'. (Harwich and Dovercourt Pubs, P. R. Goodwin, Gloucestershire, 2004, p.57.)
Thomas Cobbald (Mayor of Harwich in 1828, 1832 and 1844, son of John) had taken over the brewery along with Anthony Cox (Mayor of Harwich in 1808, 1818, 1820, 1822, 1824, 1828, 1830 and 1841, son of Charles who was mayor 1784, 1789, 1798 & 1803) at the turn of the 19th century. They put the brewery, tun rooms, malt and hop lofts, counting houses and premises, (rebuilt within a few years) together with twenty inns and public houses up for sale by auction and retired in 1840. He died in 1845. The brewery closed, the contents were split up and the site was acquired by John Brice, who built the Pier Hotel. The new brewery now appeared on the site of the old workhouse behind the Three Cups, which John Bull (a member of the Bull family who owned the Three Cups and used it as a brewery and beer shop) acquired in 1840. (Harwich and Dovercourt Pubs, P. R. Goodwin, Gloucestershire, 2004, p.58.)
"But now we're at Harwich, and thankful am I,
Our Inn's the Three Cups, and our dinner draws nigh,
But first for a walk to survey this old Borough,
To peep at the church, and the churchyard go thorough.
On the opposite shore Languard Fort boldly stands, Well secur’d by Britannia’s invincible bands.
Long, long may our Monarch the honour retain
Of being King of the Islands that govern the Main!"
(Journal of a very young Lady's Tour from Canonbury to Aldborough, through Chelmsford, Sudbury, and Ipswich, and back through Harwich,
Colchester, September 13-21, Miss Ann Susannah Nichols, London, 1804, 24 copies printed, 16 pp., Svo; also:
The Suffolk Garland: Or, A Collection of Poems, Songs, Tales, Ballads, Sonnets and Elegies, Legendary and Romantic, Historical and Descriptive, Relative to that Country; And Illustrative of Its Scenery, Places, Biography, Manners, Habits and Customs, John Row, Ipswich, 1818).
There was a reading room in the Three Cups by 1840. This room was reputed to have been haunted by Nelson's wife, who was born Frances (Fanny) Woolward, becoming Viscountess Nelson when he was raised to the peerage. When a wall was knocked down in 1949, the spirit disappeared. Lord Nelson and the two women in his life, including Lady Hamilton, still adorn the wall of the former Three Cups hotel in Harwich.
Season at Harwich with Excursions by Land and Water by W. H. Lindsey (1851)"...Prince Edward, and his mother, Queen Isabel," continued the Doctor, "landed here from Hainault, in 1327, with a force of 2,750 soldiers; and the excitement, pomp, and circumstance of such an event can be more readily conceived than described."
"What object had they in view?" inquired Charles, who, with his brother, seemed to be wholly engrossed by the historical account they ad just heard.
"To march," replied the Doctor, "against their unfortunate sovereign, Edward II., who had alienated the affections of his people by his indolence and reckless conduct, exhibited more especially in lavishing on his worthless favourites, the Spensers and others, such extravagant honours. On being joined by several of the nobility, landed by Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk, the Lord of the Manor of Harwich and Dovercourt, the resident at his palace in the town, they proceeded to Bristol." (A Season at Harwich with Excursions by Land and Water, W. H. Lindsey, 1851, p.59-60)
'Famous courtyard with Clematis [at The Three Cups]. The garden extended to include the present Vicarage and included a 300 year old mulberry tree cut down in 1972 as part of the Wellington Road demolition.' (A Walk Around Harwich, The Harwich Society, 1973, revised 2014)
Sophie la Roche wrote in 1786 of "Grasping and suspicious Customs officers", whom she described as "Hogarthian eccentrics", but had nothing but praise for the accommodation and arrangements at The Three Cups Inn. This was by far the best inn, where royalty was entertained, the civic banquets were held, and local gentry danced and drank chocolate or tea in its Assembly Rooms. (Weaver, L. T. Harwich-Holland, The story of the service and the boats since 1661, Seaford, p.7)
The host at the Three Cups our abode in Harwich, kept horses grooms and coaches of which he had all kinds, and let them out for London. He had connections with landlords at Mistley, Colchester, Witham, Ingatestone, Romford and London, who if one arrived with his coach would immediately be furnished with the best horses. Our coach held five comfortably, was lined with fine cloth, and as well built as a stage coach. ("Sophine in London" (1786) 2B, B. Carlyon-Hughs Notes in P.O. Records)
The main inn in Harwich in the late 1700s was the Bull Inn, named neither after an animal nor John Bull, but rather the proprietors, whose surname was Bull; also known as the Three Cups Hotel, it remained in the Bull family until the 1880s. (Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland, John Gamble)
The Suit of Cups, Goblets or Chalices is one of the four suits of Latin-suited playing cards. The suit of hearts is derived from the suit of cups. The oldest surviving card deck which includes the suit of cups dates back to the Pierpont-Morgan Bergamo deck from 1451 AD. The figures on the suit of cups wear gold garments, embellished by the heraldic device of sun and rays; each figure holds a large chalice, as it is often the case with the suit.
In English-speaking countries Tarot cards came to be utilised primarily for divinatory purposes. The element of cups is water, and the suit of cups pertains to situations and events of an emotional nature. Cups were the symbol of the clergy in feudal times, and thus cup cards can also be interpreted as having to do with spiritual or religious matters.
Three of Cups signify the three Graces who dance and cavort, each maiden bearing a cup. It indicates a time of merriment and celebration such as that to be had at an establishment providing entertainment.
WANTED. A Good Cook, to serve in a Tavern, where there is a kitchen maid kept under her. Such a one, well recommended for her honesty and sobriety, may hear of a place worth her acceptance, by applying to Tho. Hallsted at the Three Cups in Harwich, or Mr. Tuckely, near the Corn-Hill, Ipswitch. N.B. Wages and vails confidential. (The Ipswich Journal, Saturday 28th May 1763)
To be SOLD to the best bidder, at the Sign of the Three Cups in Harwich, on the tenth of May, between the hours of two and five in the afternoon. A WINDMILL, about three or four years old, with all its appurtenances, situated at Arwarton, near Shotley - Gate in Suffolk, now in the occupation of widow Scarf. For further particulars enquire of Mr. Wm. Truelove, Baker, in Harwich. (The Ipswich Journal, 4th May 1765)
To be sold by auction, on the premises, On Wednesday the 25th of March next, And Enter'd upon at Old Lady Day. That good-accustom'd Tavern call'd the Three Cups at Harwich, with all the stables thereants belonging. - - - The place and day of sale will be fixed in this paper the last week in February. For further particulars enquire of Capt. Cockerell at Harwich. (The Ipswich Journal, 14th February 1767)
A man took an inn in a country town, in which were the signs of the Bear, Angel, Ship, and Three Cups; on which he put up the sign of the White Horse, and under it the following lines:
My white horse shall bite the bear,
And make the Angel fly;
Shall turn the ship her bottom up,
And drink the three cups dry.
The consequence was, that the man got a great trade, and two of the other houses lost all their business. (The Ipswich Journal, Saturday 24th June 1775)
A biography of John Buchan relates that in 1914 the author, who wrote The Thirty Nine Steps, was in Harwich boarding a packet to Holland. He would have heard about this mysterious stranger at the Three Cups, and used the story as the spark of inspiration that led to the opening chapter of the novel mysterious stranger (English spy) trying to get back to England with vital information, with German spies hot on his trail:
'A middle-aged man was before the Harwich magistrates yesterday. Neither his name nor the charge against him was mentioned in open court.
Inspector Metcalf, of the local police, said he had received a telegram from the Foreign Office asking that the man should be released.
The accused, the inspector said, arrived from Rotterdam the previous evening, and acted very foolishly in the Three Cups Hotel. As he declined to give a proper account of himself the police were obliged to detain him while inquiries were made.
In his pocket was a ten-chambered automatic pistol fully loaded.
The accused: "I have no grievance against the police inspector. He did quite right in the circumstances. My instructions are to give information to nobody. I bought the revolver on the Continent. I have funny places to go to in Holland. In peace times I represent a firm of wholesale chemists in London.
At the magistrate's suggestion the accused wrote his name for comparison with another signature. The magistrate, after examining the writing; said: "You appear to be a man of education and a gentleman. In these times it is very important to be quite sure. If you are prepared to leave your pistol and ammunition I will let you go."
The accused: I am quite prepared to hand over the revolver. It is no use to me in this country.
Thereupon he was discharged on condition that he left the town at once.' (Manchester Evening News, Thursday 19 November 1914)
As if they knew about every change of weather, much to the scorn of the old mariners on the beach beneath them. In a private room of the Three Cups (for are the not Three Cups at Harwich as at Colchester?) sit a young lady and three gentleman. It is a pretty room with a bay window; and a tradition says that Lord Nelson used to stand there and look out upon the harbour and that he used... (Tinsley's magazine, Edmund Hodgson Yates, volume 30, 1882, p.174)
HARWICH, Oct 12. On Thursday last sailed the Earl of Berborough packet, with a mail for Holland; the same day Phillips Baggott, Esq; mayor, committed Thomas Garrod, boot cleaner at the Three Cups, to Goal, for robbing the gardens of the Earl of Shipbrock, at Nacton, in the night of the 2d inst. of sundry kinds of fruit. (The Ipswich Journal, 14th October 1780)
THREE CUPS INN, HARWICH.
To be LET and entered upon immediately all that large and commodious Inn, called the THREE CUPS, in this town, an old established house well furnished for trade. The stock and household furniture may be taken at a fair valuation. Enquire for further particulars of Mr. Abraham Hinde, sed. the present occupier, who from ill health is under the neccessity of declining bussiness. (The Ipswich Journal, Saturday 18th April 1795)
The next General Meeting of the trustees is appointed to be held at the Three Cups Inn, in Harwich, on Tuesday the 25 Day of May next, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon; at which meeting, all such persons whose compositions will expire on the 8th day of the same month of May next, may then renew the same for the year ensuing. Manningtree, April 24. By order of the Trustees, Wm. Perkins, Clerk. (The Ipswich Journal, 22 April 1797)
Whereas a commission of bankrupt is awarded and issued forth against John Wigner, of Harwich, in the county of Essex, sail-maker, and he being declared a bankrupt, is hereby required to surrender himself to the commissioners in the said commission named, or the major part of them, on the 17th and 18th days of November, and on the ' 9th day of December next, at eleven in the forenoon on each day, at the house of William Bull, called or known by the name or Sign of the Three Cups Inn, in Harwich, in the county of Essex, and make a full discovery and disclosure of his estate and effects; when and where the creditors are to come prepared to prove their debts, and at the second sitting to choose assignees, and at the last Sitting the said bankrupt is required to finish his examination, and the creditors arc to assent to or dissent from the allowance of his certificate. All persons indebted to the said bankrupt, or that have any of his effects, are not to payer redeliver the same but to whom the commissioners shall appoint, but to give notice to Mr. Benjamin Chapman, solicitor, Harwich, Essex, or to Thomas Evans, Esq. Hatton- Garden, London. Harwich, 20th October, 1817.
The remains of Capt. Dawkins, of the 1st regt. of foot guards, are laying at the Three Cups, until an order is received from his friends for his interment. The above gentleman died on Sunday last on board the Ariadne transport. He was wounded in both legs, and a mortification ensuing, terminated in his death. Several wounded officers have been bought ashore to the Three Cups and White Hart Inns, where they are attended by the military surgeons belonging to the hospitals here. (The Ipswich Journal, 26 October 1799)
Plot C is bounded on the west by Church Street, on the south by the Church, on the north by the Three Cups Inn, and on the east by a path through the yard. It contains some 46 monuments, among them some of great interest. There are none quite defaced. (Heraldry and Monumental Inscriptions in the Churches, Nonconformist Chapels, and Burial Grounds of Harwich, Dovercourt, and Ramsey, Hemsworth, Harvey J. Bloom, 1893, ccxiii-cclvii, p.51-59.
'To be sold by Auction, under a Commission from the High Court of Admiralty, at the Three-Cups Inn, in Harwich, Essex, on the 18th Instant, at Eleven o'Clock, The Ship called the Two Brothers of Larwick, in Norway, burthen about 370 Tons, Peter Jacobson, Master, now lying at Harwich, with her Masts, Yards, Bowsprit, Anchors, Cables, Sails, Boats, standing and running Rigging complete. Inventories to be had of Charles Cox and John Hull, Esqrs. at Harwich; of George Norman, Esq; Crescent-. Place, Blackfriars; and of Mr. Sansum, Attorney, Farrar's Buildings, Temple'. (The Gazette, London Issue, p.651, www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/15266/page/651/data.pdf)
Royal posts were laid to wherever the Court was situated outside London, and until about 1540 were temporary. The system of "riding post" that is for the rider to pick up a fresh horse at recognised intervals was increasing, and the landlord at the Three Cups Inn at Harwich was known to have had reciprocal arrangements with other inn keepers on the road to London so that the traveller suffered as little inconvenience as possible. (The Harwich Packets 1635-1834, Ian Trinder, Colchester, 1998, p.1)
CURCH STREET, which twists very slightly, is altogether varied, starting at the south end with No. 5 (Foresters), mid C16 with jettied front, North of the church, the Guildhall and the THREE CUPS face each other, the later early C16 L-plan, faced in Georgian brick and the seven-bay street front rendered. Staircase of c. 1700 with twisted balusters. (The Buildings of England, Essex, James Bettley & Nikolaus Pevsner, reprinted 2010, p.475)
"The Three Cups" has its origin in Harwich from the deep pot-ations of the Vikings, or Danish Rovers. Never did mortals drink more deeply than the Teutonic warriors; they imbibed more than freely at their boisterous revels out of the skulls of enemies slain in battle. The word "cup" can be clearly derived from this root-caput, contracted, cup; and when the skull was sawn in half; the occiput formed the "bowl.
ODIN, or WODEN, was a Teutonic god who distributed rewards to Vikings that died in battle. In his hall they drank ale out of the skulls of their enemies. This, to say the least of it, was sharp practice with the Danish chieftans when they held a drinking bout at the Three Cups in Harwich. (A Historical and Archaeological Sketch of the Town Harwich, Richard Cutler, Church Street Harwich, c.1863, p.14-15 & 89)
As early as 1753, Mr Hallstead of the Three Cups in Church Street, Harwich, was inviting people to stay at his inn and take the seawater cure at his new baths. (Harwich & Dovercourt Through Time, Michael Rouse, Stroud, 2013, p.3)
As this vessel forms part and parcel of every house in Harwich, it will be as well that I should endeavour to trace the origin of the name more accurately than in the few words where it is alluded to in the Sketch of the "Three Cups"... (A Historical and Archaeological Sketch of the Town Harwich, Richard Cutler, Church Street, Harwich, c.1863)
Perhaps the most curious are the oil paintings on canvas, let into panels over fire-places, as at the Three Cups. They are, I take it, Flemish, scriptural subjects. There is only one still remaining refect - the Magi, worshipping the child Jesus whom they found sitting in the lap of his Virgin Mother. There were, as Mrs. Bull, who has kept this inn for seventy years, informed me, others within her remembrance - Abraham offering up the ram caught in the thicket, &c.; but she added, the young officers, roistering blades, passing through Harwich in war times, had pushed their swords through the canvas of most of them, which in consequence became useless and unsightly, and were removed.
A cornice in the coffee-room at The Cups is worthy of notice, as the portraits in medallions on the part that remains perfect in this cornice distinctly mark the date by the unmistakable Holbein dress in the regn of Edward VI. Here hang a King and Queen -
"Cooling and billing.
Like Philip and Mary on their shilling."
... Probably this cornice was put up at the time such great preparations were made, 1558, by the Corporation for Philip's coming to Harwich. (A Historical and Archaeological Sketch of the Town Harwich, Richard Cutler, Church Street Harwich, c.1863, p.51)
The two great Inns, The Cups and the White Heart, which must have been originally quadrangular buildings, with an open court, the gallery round it, as a general passage to the chamber doors of the travellers who occupied the several rooms. These open galleries are partially still in existence; but both the lodgings above, and the hall, with its offices beneath, are so entirely altered, that you can hardly recognise what they really once were as mediaeval hostelries, to which pilgrims and travellers resorted.' (A Historical and Archaeological Sketch of the Town Harwich, Richard Cutler, Church Street Harwich, c.1863, p.23-24)
On Monday February 28, 1814, at the Three Cups Inn, Harwich, for the Benefit of the Underwriters, THE Sloop ANNETTE MARIANNE, of Koningsberg, J. C. Gronlioff, Master, burthen 46 Tons; with her masts, yards, staudingand running rigging. The above sloop is Prussian clinch-built, not free, about seven years old, and will be put up liable to the duties of customs, which are to be paid by purchasers. The vessel may be viewed, and further particulars had on application to Heseltine aud Biilingsley, Harwich. WANTED, THE several SUMS of £ 2,000 and £ 1,600, on eligible Security. For particulars apply to Mr F. H. Newell, Solicitor, 46, High-street, Colchester. (The Colchester Gazette, 8th November 1817)
In 1799, Captain Renton, of his Majesty's sloop Martin was one of a party of navel gentleman who had agreed to dine at the Three Cups Inn at Harwich. During dinner, quitted the room, and went into one adjoining, where he put an end to his existence by a loaded pistol, which it is supposed he had in his pocket.
He was the Second Lieutenant and signal-officer onboard the Venerable, Admiral Duncan's ship, in the action of the Battle of Camperdown on 11th October 1797. (The Gentleman's Magazine, vol.85, London)
The Three Cups Hotel, N.W. of the church, was built early in the 16th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the S.E. and N.E. There is a 17th-century addition between the wings. Inside the building two rooms have original moulded ceiling-beams or joists. The staircase of c. 1700 has turned and twisted balusters, close string and moulded handrail. A room on the first floor has a late 16th-century plaster ceiling (Plate, p. 235) with oval wreaths, Tudor roses, fleurs-de-lis and conventional foliage.
Architectural advice has been given that the beams in the Three Cups, stopped being carved in their manner, around 1480. As the main historic structure does not include re-used ships timbers, construction must have been before 1480. Dendro-dating may hold the key to proving the answe
Royal posts were laid to wherever the Court was situated outside London, and until about 1540 were temporary. The system of "riding post" that is for the rider to pick up a fresh horse at recognised intervals was increasing, and the landlord of the Three Cups Inn at Harwich was known to have had reciprocal arrangements with other inn keepers on the road to London so that a traveller suffered as little inconvenience as possible. (The Harwich Packets, Ivan Trindler, 1635-1834, Colchester, 1998, pt.1, ch.1, p.1)
'The Proprietor of "The Three Cups" gladly shows enquirers the room with a very fine ceiling in plaster, also the "smugglers' hole" - a passage which is said to have given access to the shore.' (Harwich & Dovercourt Official Guide, Extract, 1930s?, p.18)
There are four tunnels radiating from two cellars complexes under the Three Cups. Two tunnels, one with an arched entrance, and one rectangular with door hinges, are to be found in different cellar rooms under the East Wing. These head South-southwest, under Church Street towards the Guildhall. There are at least two tunnels from the six known cellar rooms under the West Wing. One low arched tunnel heads West-northwest behind the buildings of Church Street, and the other heads North-northeast from the end of a network of barrel-roofed cellars which expand out under the carpark towards the sea. (Brett Hammond, 2017)
Coaches - William Collen and Co proprietors of the Harwich coaches to and from the Spread Eagle Inn Gracechurch Street London morning and evening to the Three-Cups and White Heart Inn Harwich.
The Three Cups Hotel, Harwich. The Oldest and Best Family and Commercial Hotel. Headquarters of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. Close to station and pier. Hotel Porter meets all trains. Visitors to Harwich should not fail to see the rooms occupied by Lord Nelson, and also Queen Elizabeth's bedroom in this historical house. First-class cooking. Moderate charges. F. A. Bray, Manager. Telephone 82 Harwich. (Happy-Go-Lucky Harwich, T. West Carnie, 1920?, George Pulman & Sons Ltd, p.iii)
The building [The Three Cups] was used as council chamber prior to rebuilding of Guildhall and referred to as 'mansion' in circa 17th century. It seems probable that this is a purpose-built inn of circa 1500.
The largest [inn] must have been the 3 Cups in Church Street. Certainly it holds a large position in the town's history. From it's somewhat obscure origins - it was open for business in the 16th century, although undoubtedly being a smaller property - it expanded to fill a prominent location in the former 'High Street', and by the end of the 19th century it was being termed the 'Three Cups Estate'. (Harwich, A Town of Many Pubs, Brian Woods, Dovercourt, 2002, p.26)
'They went to adopt Sir Dudley Hill, who arrived in Harwich a few days before the election. Headed by a band and colours, he was drawn in his carriage from Dovercourt to the Three Cups, where he made a speech from an upper window, set up his Committee Rooms, and began to canvass the voters. When Attwood arrived he also made his headquarters at the Three Cups, and shared Hill's Committee Rooms. Haste drew up a list of voters which he presented to Attwood with the threat that they would not give him one of their two votes unless he "made them a good offer." "You arrange with us, and we can carry the election which way we like."
Evidence of buying votes from James Horlock: 'Where did you go to get your money? - At the Cups.' (Weaver, Leonard T. Harwich Papers, 1994, p.107) (Weaver, Leonard T. Harwich Papers, 1994, p.105)
William Bull, landlord of the Three Cups, said after the polling some voters came in, and one named Fuller said: "Where can Mr. Attwood's voters have refreshment? In what rooms?" About 70 or 80 were shown into the front rooms on the ground floor; Bull was told to supply drinks "at discretion" and they ran up a bill for £20.2.6, while others, in the bar, consumed beer and spirits amounting to £7.12.0. Upstairs, in what had been Hill's room, Haste, Paine, Horlock, Alexander, and others ordered teas, dinners, drinks, and cigars, and sent the bill for £16.6.6. to the landlord, who indicated it under the heading "Refreshments" in a total of £81.2.10 paid by Attwood for his stay at the [Three Cups] Hotel.
Bull agreed that Attwood had no time to examine the account, which ran to 3 or 4 pages and was presented when the carriage was waiting to take him to catch the train at Manningtree; but he was paid immediately in Harwich notes - notes issued by Messrs. Cox, Cobbold & Co.
Sir Dudley Hill paid £28.18.0 for his stay. Mr. Bull was asked about a dinner on August 11th:
Was it for those who had plumped for Mr. Attwood at the election? - It was called a plumper's dinner.
Do you know how many dined there? - Forty three.
Who took the chair? Mr. Lawrence of Ipswich.
Who ordered the dinner? Mr. Haste, Mr. Paine, Mr. Alexander, and others.
And who paid for the dinner? - It is not yet paid for.
Mr. Attwood was not at the dinner, I suppose? He was not. (Weaver, Leonard T. Harwich Papers, 1994, p.109)
The Committee resolved: that the Election for the Borough of Harwich, so far as regards the return of John Attwood, Esquire, is a void election.
The Name (Three Cups) Has Religious Connotations The property is appropriately sited between the former church house and the churchyard. The extent of the structure maybe indicated by the fact that in 1600 it paid a council rate of 15s. per year in contrast to the 11s. paid by other pubs. The owner, around 1672, took a lease on some council waste ground, to the rear of the pub, which appears to be the site of its garden and coach house, although it had also had another garden plot facing the Electric Palace, which also became a stable block.The building had £200 spent on 'improvements' in the 1750's of 60's, when it was probably given its Georgian facade and the archway at the rear. In the 1780's the pub offered a private carriage hire service, but also diversified into assembly balls, bathing and opened a public reading room in 1831. It remained the last Mail coaching pub in the town into the 1950s. (A Town of Many Pubs, Brian Woods, Dovercourt, 2002, p.26)
On this recent visit I again made my way to the Three Cups Hotel, which must be known to thousands of sailor-men all over the world.
"Mudgy," the cameraman who accompanied me on my tour of East Anglia, took a photograph of the local hotel because I felt that a sight of the old place might bring back a dormant memory to some sailor in a far corner of the world. Some relative would send a copy of the Sunday Graphic to him and make him feel at "home."
The hotel is associated with Nelson and Lady Hamilton (there is a plaque of the good lady on the wall at the back of the premises and there are the oak-beamed rooms in which the admiral is supposed to have stayed).
The hotel, to-day, is run by a young Swiss, M. Edmond C. J. Guignard, who learned his proffession in the school of J. Lyons and Co. He came up from London with his savings, invested them in this old hotel business, and gave me the impression that he loves the history of it.
I'd hate to prick the pride of Edmund, but there is a historian in the town who told me quite a lot about the "authenticity" of Nelson's association with Harwich. Let it go at that. Edmund is a good scout and joys in his job. Ask him for a similar glass of port as the one he gave me. All your worries will disappear like an icicle in the sunshine. (Sunday Graphic, 1936)
In 1792 the town constables were ordered 'to enter the public houses, to prevent gaming and improper tipping; to prevent apprentices being harboured to the prejudice of their masters service'. And it was around this period that most pubs were said to be associated with smuggling. In 1814, for example, Samuel Nalborough, William Parsons and Benjamin Points found themselves in Chelmsford prison. Nalborough of Kings Head Street, was a local trader who frequently purchased contraband from the Packet boat sailors and sold it on to others such as the landlords of the 3 Cups and the Angel. (Harwich, A Town of Many Pubs, Brian Woods, Dovercourt, 2002, p.32)
Herewith the transcript of the above court proceedings regards the Three Cups Inn, Harwich, found in the archives of the Guildhall (Bundle 2, no.2). Some words are illegible and have added hyphens in such occurrences. That notwithstanding, the meaning of the content is clear:
I think almost the only building with a history in the town is "The Three Cups" Hotel, for here Nelson stopped, and you may, through the courtesy of the proprietor, see the great admiral's room; but, whether you see Nelson's room or not, do not fail to see the quadrangular courtyard of "The Cups", with the gigantic wisteria that forms a roof to it. When in full bloom it is a sight alone worth a visit to Harwich. (In Quaint East Anglia, T. West Carnie, London, 1899, p.84)
'The following remarkable circumstances in Ichthyology occurred last week at the Three Cups Inn, at Harwich: on opening a large oyster, an eel pout, six inches long, was discovered within the shell, the oyster had entirely disappeared, and a considerable quantity of spawn was deposited in its place. It is supposed that the eel pout had insinuated itself when very small whilst the oyster was feeding and destroyed it. The fish and shell are preserved as curiosities. (The Cheltenham Chronicle, 16th March 1820)
Identified in the plan of Harwich in Leonard Weaver's Harwich Papers, 'Three Cups Lane' is identified as number 12. The remaining part is now called Cow Lane. 'Three Cups Lane' is shown running from Church Street to Kings Head Street, before the 'infill' house and garden was built, closing off the Church Lane end. (Harwich Papers, Leonard T. Weaver, 1994, plan on p.7)
'In the afternoon our guns, carriages, &c., were embarked; but as the wind blew right into the harbour, the agent would not attempt to get out, and we ajourned to Mr. Bull's comfortable house (the Three Cups), there to pass our last evening in England in the enjoyment of a good dinner, and perhaps for the last time to sleep in good beds.
About two p.m. on the 11th, a light breeze from the N.W. induced our agent to get under way...' (Journal of the Waterloo Campaign: Kept Throughout the Campaign of 1815, Cavalié Mercer, Blackwood, 1870)
'The town was better illuminated on Monday night than the oldest inhabitant ever remembers; and without the town, there were fireworks and bonfires. the bells rang almost incessantly, flags were displayed every where, Languard Fort fired its artillery, the Loyal Harwich Volunteers paraded in great stile, decorated with laurel, and finished with feu de joie. The Gentleman of the town dined together, Rayner Cox, Esq. the Mayor, presiding: and Royal toasts in abundance were drank with the greatest unanimity.
The fishing-smack owners dined together yesterday at the Three Cups, and celebrated the blessed occasion most happily and merrily. The Sub-scribers to our Coffee-room give an elegant ball to the Ladies on Friday next.' (The London Courier, 16th October 1801)
Elizabeth Marriot and Co. most respectfully return thanks to the inhabitants of Harwich, Manningtree, Mistley, and places adjacent, for the numerous favours received, and trust their future conduct with merit a continuance of the same. That for the better accommodation of their friends and travellers in general, their Old Established HARWICH POST COACH will on and after Monday next, the 9th May, go every Evening, at 1/2 past six o'clock, from the Three Cups, Harwich, to the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch-street, London, and return from thence every Evening, at Seven o'clock.' (The Ipswich Journal, 7th May 1803)
'Two foreigners arrived last week at Harwich. They came in a neutral vessel from Holland, and represented themselves as private Couriers, with dispatches for our Government. Not being known or accredited messengers, it was thought necessary to send a confidential person with them to the town, and they were sent back on Friday. Whilst at dinner at the Three Cups Inn, at Harwich, they fell out. They immediately went to a hardware shop, where they purchased two knives, with which they attacked each other. Before they could be separated, one of them received a wound in the shoulder. The other was stabbed in the side, and the wound is considered mortal. he is now lying at Harwich, and his opponent, whose wound is slight was sent back to town, where he arrived on Saturday. (The Norfolk Chronicle, Saturday 21st April 1804)
In history the seaport of Harwich is famous, and the old records of the borough show the visits of many distinguished folk in days gone by. Mr. T. West Carnie, the author of “Happy go Lucky Harwich and Drowsy Dovercourt” has for some years past associated himself with the task of regaining for Harwich various relics belonging and appertaining to the heroes of the past. In taking over the The Cups Hotel, Mr. West Carnie and his partner, Mr. C. Fredk. Cartmael, have secured the resting-place, or home when in Harwich, of many famed folk – of Lord Nelson among the number. During the past few weeks the hotel has been renovated, and many quaint relics have been discovered. On Saturday the Nelson rooms and an exhibition of Nelson relics were opened. The ceremony was performed by Col. A. J. H. Ward, in the presence of the Mayor (Alderman R. Hill), Alderman W. J. Nalborough, Mr. And Mrs. Ellwell, Rev. Father Walsh, Rev. E. J. Frayling (vicar of Harwich) and Mrs. Frayling, Mr and Mrs. Anabona, Me. And Mrs. Tye, Mr. J. R. Franks, J.P., Dr. H. Gurney, J.P., Mr. Mathews, R.N., and Meesrs. W. McLearon, W.C. Grice, C. F. Bevan, R. Wilson, and others. The exhibition room, with perculiarly ancient carving, panelling, and wains-cotting, and low ceiling, is of exceptional interest. The many valuable prints, groups of Staffordshire china, patch boxes, plaques, bed quilts, articles of furniture, copies of “The Times” describing the battle of Trafalgar and death and funeral of Lord Nelson, evoked great interest. In declaring the exhibition open, Col. Ward dwelt on the events which the relics recalled to mind. – The Mayor moved a vote of thanks o Col. Ward, and afterwards the visitors were entertained to luncheon. (East Anglia Daily Times, August, 1904)
O.K. an unusual combination we concede. However, it gives us an opportunity to view the holiday scene, and consider how secure the visitors should have felt. It is also an opportunity to up-date our visits to the area of the 3 Cups which we have followed through this work. By 1910 the paddle steamers of the ‘Belle’ line – the ‘London Belle’ and ‘Woolwich Belle’ in the main, together with the Victoria Steamboat Association’s ‘Royal Sovereign’, which had been coming to Clacton and Harwich since the 1890s. And, of course, they had also been taking Harwich folk out on a river trip or to other parts of the coast. The GER steamers, as just one instance, conveyed passengers to and from Ipswich and Felixstowe four times daily during the Summer, or twice a day during the Winter, on average for a 4d return ticket...
However, anyone staying in the town may have made their way along Church St. To the long established 3 Cups hostelry, which in 1905, was still trading heavily on its Nelsonian connections. As mentioned earlier it was an extremely picturesque, historic building with part of its back extension coming out over the ‘Church Alley’, and cantilevered onto its enclosed garden wall. Next to the garden were its stables and coach-houses – no garage as yet! At the time of the 1901 census the licensee was John Broadbent from Manchester, and there were 11 occupants of the building in total, although only 3 were guests. Next to the previously mentioned stables, stood the Mortuary and Borough Fire Station. (The New Harwich Story: The History and Development of an Essex Sea-Port 1170-2004, Brian Woods, 2005, p.105)
In the book The Great Tide, which documents the 1953 flood disaster, the chapter entitled 'The Sea Strikes', tells of a Harwich police constable who was detailed to warn the inhabitants of the Old Town as the water advanced up the streets between 11 p.m. and midnight: "By the time the tide turned, an overall height of some three feet of water was coming over the quayside and smashing its way into the Old Town from the north, but long before then it had surrounded the constable, and imprisoned him upstairs in the Three Cups until it ebbed."
Between 1 and 2 a.m. "In Harwich Old Town the Salvation Army major in Church Street was sitting patiently on the stairs, watching the level on the canteen floor. Farther up Church Street the constable marooned in the Three Cups telephoned the police station at 1.20 a.m. to say that he was still cut off there."
In the hours before dawn, there was a mobilisation for rescue and relief: "Shortly before 4 a.m. a Harwich police sergeant, accompanied by two Colchester constables and two civilians, managed to enter Harwich Old Town on foot by the way of the promenade, and by climbing round the Customs' lookout post and town mortuary. In the Old Town they found the floodwater running back from the streets into the sea as the tide ebbed, leaving only the basements flooded and pools lying in hollows. They made their way up the quayside where they met, first, the two constables who had tried to reach the Anchor public house to rescue the licensee, both soaking wet, then, soon afterwards, the constable who had been cut off in the Three Cups. All three constables were able to give the sergeant first-hand information of damaged premises and conditions generally in the Old Town." (The Great Tide, The story of the 1953 flood disaster in Essex, Hilda Grieve, London, Dunstable and Dagenham, 1959, pages 104, 149, and 193-194)
By BUNNEL and JACKSON, At the THREE CUPS INN, HARWICH, on WEDNESDAY, the 14th Inst, at Twelve, under the execution from the Sheriff of Essex, THAT beautiful and well known Packet called the PRINCE of WALES, Capt. Hearn, of the Port of Harwich, burthen about 120 tons, fitted up in a superior stile, for the accommodation of passengers, with all her materials, beds, and bedding; and Inventory of which will be produced at the time and place of Sale. (The Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, London, 9th August 1805)
WITH SUCH a history, the marvel is that Harwich has no backlog of ghost stories. But it can compensate with a few grisly and true tales of whichcraft trials.
In 1605, Mary Harte was fighting for her life, charged with bewitching seven pounds of meat and turning it rancid. She got off, but the year after was convicted in a Trial at the Three Cups on a charge of bewitching a sailor and so killing him. This time she was hanged.
White Manningtree at the head of the Stour Estuary was the witchhunting centre par excellence (see The Lower Stour, Stourdale Press), Harwich seemed to have had less convictions for sorcery than one would expect.
Leonard Weaver, a former mayor of the town and author of The Harwich Story (privately published, 1975), recalls that Bridget Weaver - no relation - was the last recorded Harwich witch. She was tried in 1660 for feeding an evil spirit in the likeness of a bird and for suckling one of Satan's imps. Incredibly she was let off with a fine. (Clacton and Harwich and the 'Essex Sunshine Coast', Terry Palmer, Colchester, 1976, p.45)
Opposite to the Guildhall is the Three Cups Hotel, a building of great age, which contains some fine oak beams, plastered ceilings, and smugglers' passage. The building has been used as an inn from certainly the 16th century, and many famous personages have rested there. (Harwich, Dovercourt and Parkstone Guide and Directory, The "Standard" Printing & Publishing Company, West Street, Harwich, 1931, p.9)
...since being planted by Mrs W. Bull – the former landlady – in 1851. As one writer observed: ‘...it covers the whole courtyard of this old fashioned hostelry and there are few visitors to Harwich who can go away without visiting the spot’. Visitors were also encouraged to view the Hotel’s so called: ‘Nelson Room’ where, for a small admission fee, one could enter the very bedroom of the great Admiral – the room he occupied on his periodic visits to Harwich. (The New Harwich Story: The History and Development of an Essex Sea-Port 1170-2004, Brian Woods, 2005, p.89)
‘The first tour of pleasure was to Harwich with Mr. and Mrs. Fisher of Woodhamwalter, my father and mother. We left home in the morning early, breakfasted at the 3 Cups, an agreeable well-accomodated inn...’(Essex people, A. F. J. Brown, 1750-1900, Essex County Council, 1972, p.2)
Nevertheless both hotel’s remained open for the rest of the century. As did the town’s oldest business the ‘3 Cups,’ despite similar fluctuating fortunes. In the 1880s the owner, John Bull, experienced financial problems and was forced to sell out in 1886, pending his bankruptcy the following year with debts of £1962. (The New Harwich Story: The History and Development of an Essex Sea-Port 1170-2004, Brian Woods, 2005, p.?)
John Tye was apprenticed to Groom's Harwich cod smacks. He twice absconded, on his second conviction in 1848 was sentenced to three months' hard labour along with another apprentice, Thomas Randall. Three years later he was in trouble again when, as a member of the crew of a Colchester smack Good Agreement, he was caught with a bottle of Dutch gin intended for his Christmas treat. Later he was skipper of Lewis's Queen and Tryal, and when Harwich had its first RNLI lifeboat in 1875 he was appointed cox'n. When he retired [in 1891] he kept the Three Cups inn and was prominent in model yacht racing, (The Salvagers, Colchester, Hervey Benham, 1980, p.36 & also p.89)
‘...everyone in the coach was in good humour, except a John Bull who was in the coach, who had not an idea beyond his roast beef and porter, and growled more than laughed at the pleisanterie; complaining at our patience in listening to French palaver. However she there amused us; her spirits were far different afterwards, for, on arrival at dinner, madame was impatient to begin.
The first dish introduced and placed before her was a large one filled with hard Norfolk dumplings. This she said was épouvantable. After waiting some time in came two boiled barn-door fighting cocks, tough combatants, and a large piece of bacon; five minutes after was the disheartening announcement of “The coach is ready.” Bad was our dinner, they took care to charge a good price for it. On resuming her seat, her silence soon convinced us that she was not pleased with her English fare; the remainder of our journey we sat like Quakers not moved by the spirit, and silence was only broken by the John Bull, who snored most fiercely from time to time, till we got to Harwich. The Norfolk dumplings had not only been a damper to our appetites, but to our conversation.
Arrived at “The Three Cups,” an excellent inn, where foreigners are continually going and coming, the fricassee and omelette, I dare say, were very acceptable to madame, and made up to her for the bad English dinner, especially after having told us of the many delicious petits plats at Paris. The next day we took our departure in the packet for Helvoetstuys, about two o’clock.’
(The Reminiscences of Henry Angelo with Memoirs of His Late Father and Friends, Including Numerous Original Anecdotes And Curious Traits Of The Most Celebrated Characters That Have Flourished During The Past Eighty Years, Volume II, London, Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1830, reprinted London, 1904, p.429-430)
LONDON, Sept. 14, half past nine, p.m.- At Mr. Bull’s, the Three Cups Inn at Harwich, contrary to the representations of tourists, we met with great civility and very moderate charges. There were about thirty of us, passengers, wishing to proceed to London, and only two chaises are kept in the town. The morning coaches were gone, and no other public conveyance till night. Luckily my companion had the precaution to bespeak a chaise on the moment of our arrival; and we were of the few who got forward to town. A young Dutchman joined us in a chaise from Harwich. We got cleared at the Custom-House, so as to leave at eleven, and travelled post to London.Dined at Colchester, and are just arrived. X (Letters written from the continent, during a six weeks' tour in 1818, and afterwards published in the York Chronicle, Jonathan Gray, W. Blanchard, York, 1919, p.119)
'I owe that officer thanks. Before we parted he urged me to visit the Nelson Museum at the Three Cups Hotel, where, as he phrased it, the people would show me "the bedroom of Horatio Nelson, my boy, and his handwriting, and all that sort of thing, by G__!" So, after much rambling up and down in what Mr. Morrison would call "mean streets," I sought out the Three Cups Hotel, and was soon in "Nelson's Bedroom" that looks down on King's Quay Street. Other rooms are also associated with memories of that great hero - one, now half hidden by clematis, is over the courtyard, and photographs of it may be bought in the town. I was shown a panel from the Nelson pew at Burnham Thorpe, a punchbowl used at the inn in his day, many old prints relating to the man or his deeds, a manuscript letter bearing his signature dated from the Victory at sea on July 1, 1804. Follow where we may in the footsteps of Nelson, we soon learn that the memory of few men is more warmly cherished. At many shrines we are requested to take an interest in a saint; it is taken for granted that we are interested in Nelson.' (In Constable's Country, by Herbert, W. Tomkins, London, 1906, p.252)
'The Three Cups at Harwich, a pleasant old inn, which can boast the patronage of Lord Nelson, remains intact to this day. I find it mentioned in a diary of the year 1761 that mine host of that period used to waylay the boat passengers on their landing and carry them bodily off in his anxiety to secure custom.'
(The Reminiscences of Henry Angelo with Memoirs of His Late Father and Friends, Including Numerous Original Anecdotes And Curious Traits Of The Most Celebrated Characters That Have Flourished During The Past Eighty Years, Volume II, London, Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1830, reprinted 1904, p.324)
'Later you can wander down Church Street and look at the Three Cups - you will be in good company, Nelson and Lady Hamilton used to 'book in' and favoured the room with the Fleur-de-Lys in its Tudor ceiling...
It was here that there was another of the famous Nelson touches. He had come in the Medusa and after a convivial night at the Three Cups called for his pilot in the morning to beat out, in case the French arrived on the scene. There was a stinking south easter blowing straight into the harbour entrance and the pilot, wise man, refused to take the unwieldy ship out on a straight beat round the treacherous Cork Sands and stone banks. So Nelson promptly grabbed the unfortunate local Marine Surveyor, a gentleman called Spence and said 'we're off'. It was touch and go fairly literally, but they made it safely past the Naze to deeper water and that is why to this day it is called the 'Medusa Channel' on your chart. It is not all beer and skittles in a maneuverable little yacht and I wouldn't much like to have been in Master Spence's shoes. I bet he got his anchor up at a rate of knots if the tide was showing signs of ebbing.' (East Anglia from the Sea, by David and Joan Hay, London, 1972, p.46-47)
MEDUSA channel deriving its name from an incident in Nelson's history is used by vessels passing from Harwich into the Wallet or vice versa it lies between Halliday flats and Naze ledge to the westward and the Ridge and Stone banks to the eastward the least depth at low water is 1 1 feet but it is narrow and indirect. (North Sea Pilot, Part III, East Coast of England, Second Edition, London, 1869, p.201)
The Conservation Area Partnership Scheme (CAPS) funded selected improvements and repairs. The scheme ran from three years ending March 1999. The money came from a partnership of English Heritage, Essex County Council, and Tenring District Council. Of the eight projects completed in Harwich, The Three Cups was the first in the list. (Highlight, Journal of the Harwich Society, No.114, Harwich, Winter 1998/9, p.17-18)
Restoration work at the 'Former Three Cups Inn' was also praised under the conservation panel by Peggy McSweeney. (Highlight, Journal of the Harwich Society, No.113, Harwich, Autumn 1998, p.8)
"Many of the ancient houses remain, and these gabled and half-timbered structures lift the town from the rut of the commonplace, and dignify it by many an interesting association with the past. One of the "Show Houses" of Harwich is the Three Cups Hotel, where, in the delightful courtyard at the back, beautiful with clusters of clematis, is shown the window of the room occupied by Nelson during his visits to the town." (Harwich & Dovercourt Information Brochure, undated copy)
In 1870 only two Hotels were mentioned in the town: 'Harwich (69 3/4 miles). Hotels (Three Cups, Spread Eagle), population 5,070. It is situated near the mouth of the Stour and has a commodious harbour dock yard. Ship building with other trades depending on it, is the chief source of industry. There is a regular traffic passenger service between Harwich and Rotterdam, three a week, and between the same place and Antwerp, twice a week. Landguard Fort, comanding the harbour and its approaches, was constructed in the reign of James I. One mile from Harwich is Dover Court, an agreeable bathing-place.' (Appleton's European Guide Book, Route 45 - London to Harwich, p.96)
Singles Bedrooms from 3/-
Doubles Bedrooms from 5/6
Breakfast from 2/-
Luncheon from 2/-
Dinner from 3/6
Tea from 1/-
Boarding Terms from 8/6 per day
Saturday to Monday 10/6
Per Week 55/-
(Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to Dovercourt and Harwich, 1906, reprint)
Eileen Keeble recalls this sighting during World War II, when divers salvaging H.M.S. Gipsy (H63) in Harwich harbour in 1943, were staying at the Three Cups. Gipsy was a G-class destroyer built during the 1930s. The ship was used to escort shipping in our local waters after the beginning of the war, but within a month she struck a mine outside Harwich and sank with the loss of 30 of her crew.
The salvagers, who were staying at the Three Cups, reported a terrifying experience. A veiled figure trying to pull the bed covers off them during the night. Although the group of divers were adamant about this physical encounter, Eileen is cynical about the sighting as she 'could not be sure how much they had to drink'.
If anyone else remembers hearing about this or any other paranormal activity at the Three Cups, I would be very happy to hear from them. (Brett Hammond & Eileen Keeble (daughter of Albert Keeble), who was resident at the Three Cups from 1938-1951, interviewed 2nd November 2018)
EN PENSION TERMS
(inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Dinner).
Daily .. 10s. 6d.
Weekly .. £2 12s 6d.
BED AND BREAKFAST
Single from 6s. 6d.
Double Large Bed from 10s. 6d.
Double Twin Beds from 12s. 6d.
SPECIAL TERMS for long periods will be quoted on application.
The usual arrangements are in force with regard to Registration on arrival, notice of departure before noon, and deposit of valuables with Proprietor for security - otherwise no responsibility is assumed.
(The Three Cups Hotel, advertising booklet, Harwich, 1937, p.8)
HARWICH, Dec. 6.
Saturday last being St. Andrew’s Day, the Corporation met at the Town-hall, when Joseph Graham, Esq. was elected and sworn in as Mayor of this borough for the year ensuing. A very handsome dinner was provided by the late Mayor, J. Hopkins, Esq. At the Three Cups Inn, to which a large party was invited. Many loyal and constitutional toasts were drank with enthusiasm; on the toast being given to the memory of the ever to be lamented hero Lord Nelson, the bands of the Royal Westminster regiment played the Dead March in Saul, which had a grand and pleasing effect. (The Ipswich Journal, 7 December 1805)
During the filming of the Yangtse Incident (the story of H.M.S. Amethyst) which was filmed in Harwich, many of the actors and crew were either staying or being 'made up' at the Three Cups.
The downstairs was used by the wardrobe and special effects departments, while some of the famous actors were lodging upstairs. Residents were Richard Todd of The Dam Busters (1955), played Lieutenant-Commander John Simon Kerans; William Hartnell of Dr. Who fame (1963-1966,1972-1973), who played Quartermaster Leslie Frank; and Sam Kydd as Able Seaman Walker, who played hundreds of film and TV roles including Perkins the coach driver in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and became well known for his children's programs in the 1970s.
Other famous people that Eileen remembers staying at the Three Cups are the Earl of Craven and his cousin. (Brett Hammond & Eileen Keeble (daughter of Albert Keeble who was resident at the Three Cups from 1938-1951), 2nd November 2018)
You can still catch the aromas of the nutmegs about the premises:
At the THREE CUPS INN, HARWICH, TO-MORROW the 24th Inst. at Eleven, for the Benefit of the Underwriters, THE FOLLOWING GOODS, VIZ.- About 8 Tons Raw Coffee, 25 Cwt. Indigo, in casks, 2 Cwt. Nutmegs. The whole divided into Lots. Samples to be seen, and Catalogues had, of Messrs. PUGH, 71 Tower-street, Londson; Mr. ABRAHAM HINDES, Auctioneer, and Mr. JOHN HOBDAY, Ship Agent, Harwich (Advertisement from the Public Ledger and Advertiser, 23 February 1809)
Monday the 21st inst.Lieut. J. G. Ogle, of the West York Militia, undertook to walk 22 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes, backwards and forwards from Shoarman's Blue House Farm to Ramsey church, which he did in 10 minutes under the time given, and thereby won a wager of 20gs. Captain Blake, of the same regiment, also undertook, for a wager of 10gs. to walk blindfolded from Barracks here to the Three Cups Inn, a distance of about one mile, in 43 hours, which he did in 2 hours. (The Ipswich Journal, 2 June 1810)
In history the seaport of Harwich is famous and the old records of the borough show the visits of many distinguished folk in the days one by. Mr. T. West Carnie, the author of "Happy go Lucky Harwich and Drowsy Dovercourt" has for some years past associated himself with the task of regaining for Harwich various relics belonging and appertaining to the heroes of the past. In taking over the Three Cups Hotel, Mr West Carnie and his partner, Mr. C. Fredk. Cartmael, have secured the resting-place, or home when in Harwich, of many famed folk - of Lord Nelson among the number. During the past few weeks the hotel has been renovated, and many quaint relics have been discovered. On Saturday the Nelson rooms and an exhibition of Nelson relics were opened. The ceramony was performed by Col. A. J. H. Ward, in the presence of the Mayor (Alderman R. Hill), Alderman W. J. Nalborough, Mr and Mrs. Ellwell, Rev. Father Walsh, Rev. E. J. Frayling (vicar of Harwich) and Mrs. Frayling, Mr. and Mrs. Anabona, Mr. and Mrs. Tye, Mr. J. R. Franks, P.P., Dr. H. Gurney, J.P., Mr. Mathews, R.N., and Meesrs. W. McLearon, W. C. Grice, C. F. Bevan, R. Wilson, and others. The exhibition room, with peculiarly ancient carving, panelling, and wainscotting, and low ceiling, is of exceptional interest. The many valuable prints, groups of Staffordshire china, patch boxes, plaques, bed quilts, articles of furnature, copies of "The Times" describing the Battle of Trafalgar and death of Lord Nelson, evoked great interest. In declaring the exhibition open, Col. Ward dwelt on the events which the relics recalled to mind. -The Mayor moved a vote of thanks to Col. Ward, and afterwards the visitors were entertained to luncheon. (East Anglian Times, August 1904)
"A fine Norfolk Plover, sent me on the 11th, was shot the previous day at Bradfield, nearHarwich, in a turnip-field. On the 20th several Woodcocks were seen migrating ; one flew into the yard of 'The Cups Hotel' at Harwich" (Zoologist: A Monthly Journal of Natural History, by Newman West, 1881, p.26)
At Harwich we went to the "Three Cups", and refreshed ourselves with a drink of "porter", which we particularly liked, and ... For the six of us and our luggage we next hired a coach to London for 24 shillings. (Martinus van Marum. Life and work [1750-1837, visit to London in 1790], volume 2, p.267)
Gothic Lodge of Freemasons, No. 186, Harwich. – Mr S. Race, Librarian and Curator to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire, writes that the Library possesses a Geneva Bible, dated 1592, which has a note written on the fly-leaf to the effect that it was ‘The gift of Bro. Joseph Spooner to the Gothic Lodge, No. 186, on its removal to Harwich.’ The Lodge was formed in 1765 and had meeting-places in Westminster and neighbourhood until 1805; it was erased on 5 March, 1828... Mr. Jowett; after which the Lodges dined at the Three Cups, and spent the day in the utmost harmony.
‘Manmathe.’- What is the meaning of this word, and where is its provenance? In some handwritten accounts, dated 1604, inserted in a Geneva Bible [dated 1592], formerly the property of the Gothic Lodge of Freemasons of Harwich, to which no clue is given but the name of ‘Francys Byshopp,’ and are the following entries:
For 2 manmathe in South medland vjd.
For a 10 manmath late J.H. 5s.
For a 5 manmath late J.F. 2d.
For a fre rent of 3 manmathe and 4 manmath 2pepercorns
(The Essex Review, 1950, volumes 57-59, p.7)
An advertisement in the same paper of a fortnight earlier, set out the programme of the proceedings, viz: ‘meet at the Three Cups at 9 o’c., ‘to open the Gothic Lodge’; Lodge at 10 o’c.; ‘Procession to Divine Service at Eleven’; ‘Dinner at Two. Tickets at the Bar 10s. 6d. Each.’ – G.O.R.
(The Essex Review, 1950, volumes 57-59, p.24)
David, Albert Keeble's grandson who grew up playing at the Three Cups, recalls his mother Sheila Keeble, experiencing a particularly bad paranormal haunting at the Three Cups. Late one evening while preparing to retire for bed, she felt a pair of cold hands being slowly clenched around her neck in an apparent attempt of strangulation. Was this the same entity that the salvagers of the Gipsy experienced in 1943? (Brett Hammond, 10th September 2018)
The traditions attaching to some of our ancient hostelries are treated with varying respect in different parts of the country. In certain licensed houses their reputed connexion with celebrities is not only treated with the greatest respect- not to mention blind faith-but no opportunity is neglected of exploiting these traditions. Others care so little for historical affinities that not an effort is made by the owners to preserve any records of association with personages of note. A few of the humbler hostelries are practically kept alive by legends, more or less spurious, of relations with that arch-scoundrel, Dick Turpin. On the other hand, the demolition of so striking relic as the ‘Nelson Room’, in that fine old hostelry, the ‘Three Cups’ at Harwich, ought surely to have been avoided in a patriotic country.
Parts of the building belong undoubtedly to the sixteenth century, while portions of more modern accommodation were re-modelled in the classic style which prevailed during the latter years of the eighteenth century. But the oak overmantel and panelling of the room which the greatest of all our admirals occupied was a production of the seventeenth century and its aspect when cared for must have been both dignified and comfortable.
Of the late years the apartment, in spite of its reputation, was neglected: its ceiling sagged and its floors became unsafe. And now another remembrance of the great has gone- to make way, it is said, for a garage. But despite its loss the ‘Three Cups’ remains a wonderful hostel. The bressummers in its picturesque, flagged courtyard display the finest of Elizabethan carvings in the way of arabesques, and the moulded and beamed ceilings in more than one part of the house bear witness to the stout thoroughness with which builders of the early sixteenth century did their work.
The most ancient portions of this hotel must have been in existence something like 150 or 160 years, when the great naval scrap between the Dutch fleet and the English came off in 1666. The combat, which was hotly contested, lasted all day till seven in the evening, and its varying fortunes were watched by a crowd of spectators which collected on Beacon Hill, close to Harwich. We can imagine the rejoicing attending our victory which were carried on at the ‘Three Cups’ during this and subsequent evenings. The structure of the present tap-room must certainly have witnessed these scenes. (Essex Survivals with Special Attention to Essex Smugglers, by Fred Roe, R.I., R.B.C., London, 1929, p.49-51)
We found the town in no small confusion, the good people being occupied in pulling down the church in pecking up the streets previous to their being paved, and in boring for water. There were also several new buildings in the course of erection; and the whole was about to be newly lighted with gas. All these circumstances were tokens, that Harwich is not declining; and it seems probable, from the exertions of the inhabitants, that it will shortly rank as a bathing place of respectability. Its lighthouses and the sunk redoubt in particular deserve being visited. The surrounding country is cheerful, and, at full tide, the Orwell and Stour rivers add greatly to its beauty. My friend Mr. O., who was to accompany me as far as Stockholm, (being attached to our embassy there) arrived at Harwich a few hours after I did: the consul general of Sweden Mr. W., who was proceeding to Gothenburgh, where he resided, was also to have been our companion, and was to have met us there; some unknown cause, however, detained him; and the time for the sailing of the packets arriving, we were compelled to give up the hope of having the pleasure of his company. Having taken leave, then, of our attentive host at the Three Cups, we embarked at four in the afternoon on board the Charlotte packet, captain May, and set sail with a fine breeze from the S.W. (Travels Through Sweden, Norway, and Finmark: To the North Cape, in the Summer of 1820, by Arthur de Capell Broke, London, 1823, p.3,4)
HARWICH, December 26. Three reindeer (two females and a male) have arrived in this country from Gothenburg by the Emily packet, and are now in the charge of Mr. Bull at the Three Cups Tavern. The beasts are the property of J. R. Wise, Esq., his Britannic Majesty's Consul General for Sweden.
[Author’s note. A few days later it was announced in the Norfolk Chronicle of 3rd January 1824 that the three reindeer had transferred to premises in Colchester. The report continued: These reindeer are eventually bound for the North of England where an attempt is being made, with every prospect of success, to naturalize this useful, animal. It appears the favourite food of reindeer is mountain moss, which abounds in many districts of Northern England. (The Ipswich Journal, Saturday 27 December 1823)
On the same date the Norfolk Chronicle also reported that: On Wednesday, that extraordinary majestic animal, the Swedish Elk, which has for some time been at the Three Cups in Harwich, was sent off to London. It was led off harnessed by the head with a strong leather halter, attended by five men; but after going five or six miles his tractableness rendered more than three handlers unnecessary. He is said to be for public exhibition at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, as the breed is now near extinct in Europe, and this is the only one ever imported alive into this country. Although he has not yet attained half growth, he has already reached a height of nineteen hands at the shoulders. The Swedish Elk is a singularly made animal capable of enduring much fatigue and going at an incredible speed. One has been driven in a sledge from the interior to Stockholm, a distance of 360 miles, in thirty hours; but the exhausted animal was obliged to be killed on its arrival. (The Norfolk Chronicle, Saturday 27 December 1823)
“INCIDENTS OF THE STORM - A gale cost Harwich an interesting relic in the shape the massive chimney in Nelson’s room at the Three Cups Hotel. The chimney weighed nearly half a ton. The room in which Nelson slept, is practically undamaged.” This account explains the initial difficulty of locating where the inside photographs of the ‘Nelson Room’ where taken due to the not being able to locate thefireplace. (Liverpool Daily Post, Wednesday 30 December 1914)
“Strolling through the quaint little streets of Harwich, one cannot help thinking of its history in the old days, when our heroes of the days of William the Protestant, of John Churchill, and of Arthur Wellesley, took ship to join their friends, who it is to be regretted “swore so...
Although one can no longer gaze out of the windows of the “Three Cups” on to the sea, owing to a barrier of bricks and mortar, the old hostelry is still where Nelson sipped his punch and made merry with his captains. The glory of the “Three Cups” is now somewhat departed, and the kings uniform, or the “government rags,” as some spirited young subalterns love to term their blue and scarlet is but seldom to be seen there.” (The Battle-Ground of 1815, by Arthur Paske, The Illustrated naval and military magazine: A monthly journal devoted to all subjects connected with Her Majesty's land and sea forces, W.H. Allen & Company, 1886, volume 3, p.111)
In the afternoon our guns carriages were embarked but as the wind blew right into the harbour the agent would not attempt to get out and we adjourned to Mr Bull's comfortable house the Three Cups there to pass our last evening in England in the enjoyment of a good dinner and perhaps for the last time to sleep in good beds About two pm on the 11th a light breeze from the NW induced our agent to get under way and we repaired on board our respective ships with every prospect of a good and speedy passage. (Journal of the Waterloo Campaign: Kept Throughout the Campaign of 1815, by Cavalié Mercer, commanding the 9th Brigade Royal Artullery, Edinburgh and London, 1870, vol.1, p.5) N.B. Abraham Hinde was the Innkeeper up to 1823, not William Bull.
Mystery of the bedclothes that move at night. Standard reporter ANDREW WARNER begins a two-part series on some ghostly goings-on in Harwich.
There has been a buzz around the Three Cups at Harwich in the week before Christmas, so would all seasonal customers please refrain from telling landlords Ricky and Kim Good any more ghost stories?
"Sssssh!" says Ricky when I mention ghosts, "ever since we became landlords in April this year Kim has been hearing bumps and bangs. She thinks the place is haunted and it doesn't help with all the stories we have heard about this old place."
It seems the young couple have heard many a yarn, but the most consistent one is of a ghost which visits at Christmas and tugs at the bedclothes. "I don't believe any of it," says Ricky, "but Kim thinks we have got a poltergeist. The very first night we moved into the pub she woke me up in the middle of the night saying someone or something had tugged at the bedclothes. I would have looked, but she had got hold of me so tight I couldn't even move!"
Apparently, things have quietened down at the Three Cups since then, but now Christmas is upon us people have though more and more of spirits - and not those sold behind the bar. "Only the other day I was told of a Trinity seaman who stopped a night at our pub some years ago. It was at a time when the Three Cups had other buildings, which have since been demolished, and was run as a hotel," Ricky went on.
"He slept in a room, which if it had still been around would have neighbored ours, and in the middle of the night was awoken by the feeling of bedclothes being tugged. To stop this he took his boots, which were very heavy seaman's boots, and placed them on the corners of the bed and of course went back to sleep.
"The boots seemed to do the trick as he did not feel the tugging again, but in the morning he awoke to find his boots were no longer on the corner of the bed but were together underneath the bedroom window. He left saying he would never stay in the pub again."
It sounds like the sort of story that would give everyone a laugh, but not if you had to sleep in the next room. Of course the Three Cups has quite a history - being in Church Street, the oldest part of the town - much of its property recorded in the town's records.
Local historian, Mr Leonard Weaver, has lent a number of bits and pieces to the Goods since they have been landlords. One document tells of a trial in the pub of Mary Hart for witchcraft. The evil magic had supposedly been troubling the pub and the outcome was the woman being hanged. The trial had to be transferred from the Guildhall while it was restored.
The Three Cups in the 18th century was the place to stay and it was visited by royalty and nobility. The King stayed at the pub in 17143; Edward VII, as Prince of Wales, stayed in 1895 and so did Lord Nelson in 1801. Other yarns told to Ricky and Kim involve the ghost of Nelson and even a nun seen walking from the Cups to the Guildhall or visa-versa - nobody is quite sure.
The cellar at the Three Cups is immense, stretching far out into the car park at the rear, and - so Ricky has been told - has tunnels blocked off and bricked up that used to lead to the Hanover public house and other buildings in the town which also have bricked-off passages. It is thought that the tunnels also led to the sea so smugglers could use them.
Mr Weaver is not certain about this. He doesn't believe the sand that Harwich sits on would make tunnels possible and thinks the passages are really rainbacks - devices in which rainwater could be collected. He said: "Water was very scarce in this town in the past and the local inhabitants got very used to drinking rainwater instead of real water when there was a drought. These rainbacks could store water in a sort of tank. I cannot believe they were used by smugglers as the cellars would be the first place the soldiers would look for them."
The town records mention the Three Cups quite often and it seems to have been a favourite place with town Councillors in the past. Financial accounts show that in the 18th century out of £34 spent only £4 was spent on anything other than alcohol by the council. In one sitting Councillors managed to drink themselves through a fiver, which in those days was a lot to drink. For example, the accounts book also shows that two large holes in the sea defence walls were repaired for a total cost of just £1.79. The records also mention a well-loved publican of the Three Cups called John Bull, not his real name. One evening some guests decided to test his good nature by eating at the pub and then complaining bitterly about the standard of the food. Mr Bull took this all in his stride. (The Standard, Thursday 23 December 1982, p.4)
The Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt bearing Date the 14th day of December 1813 awarded and issued forth against Richard Wood the elder, late of Harwich, in the County of Essex, Fisherman, Dealer and Chapman, intend to meet on the 16th day of May next, at Twelve of the Clock at Noon, at the Three Cups Inn, in Harwich aforesaid, in order to make a First and Final Dividend of Estate and Effects of the said Bankrupt; when and where the Creditors, who have not already proved their Debts, are to come prepared to prove the same, or they will be excluded the Benefit of the said Dividend. And all claims not then proved will be disallowed. (The London Gazette, part 1, p.873)
BANKRUPTCY ACT, 1869. Proceedings for Liquidation by Arrangement or Composition with Creditors. NOTICES OF FIRST MEETINGS. Friday, Nov 24, 1871.- Vincent, Chas. Harwich, Essex, Blacksmith; Dec 18, at 3, at Three Cups Hotel, Harwich. R. K. Hill. Ipswich. Attorney. (The Weekly Notes, 2 December 1871, p.399)
Another ghost story about the Three Cups crops up in an old book still kept by Dovercourt Library called Unknown Essex by Donald Maxwell. In it Mr Maxwell tells of his true adventure in the 1920s when he was sailing a small yacht from Lowestoft in a nasty December sea. He only just managed to get to Harwich before it became really dark and was certainly not in the mood for another night aboard the craft. He threw some clothes into a bag and sat on the low light putting on his shoes and socks. He continues: "The shore was deserted. There were a few lights in the dark mass of houses across the green, and I judged that I was not very far from warm fires and hospitable inns. As I approached what I thought was the opening to a road or alley I became aware of a dark figure just in front of me."
"It was that of an old man in a dress that suggested a pilot. He greeted me and we spoke of the weather and the chances of snow, and as we walked along together I asked him where he would advise me to put up for the night. 'The Three Cups,' he said, stopping and pointing to a lighted window. 'It is next to the church. I will show you the way.'
"I thanked him and again we walked along together. He was a curious figure with a white beard and venerable demeanor. Through a narrow street we entered into a paved court over which, upon a kind of trellis, there climbed a gigantic clematis. A welcome light streamed out chequering the flagstones at our feet. Through the window I could see a roaring fire and a glimpse of warmth and comfort that made me very glad I was not still upon the sea.
"I turned to thank the old man for his courtesy and to invite him to come inside, when I found that he has gone. I went back to the entrance of the courtyard, but no one was in sight. I could have sworn that he had entered the courtyard with me, but I had evidently been mistaken. "I am not superstitious, but I felt there was something strange in the sudden advent of the old man out of the darkness and his equally sudden disappearance."
Mr Maxwell, after dining, talking to the then landlord, who tried to explain the inn's name. He said the Three Cups was a corruption of the Three Purses, which is a most common symbol of St Nicholas, the name of the church next door. The golden bags, tied at the neck, have been turned upside down to look like cups. The landlord went on: "You see, your room contains a portrait of St Nicholas and tomorrow is the feast of the saint. Good night and may the saint preserve you."
"The face was familiar. St Nicholas, according to the artist, was not unlike the old pilot who had shown me the way to the Three Cups. I soon dropped off to sleep as the tower, visible from my bed, chimed 10.30pm," writes Mr Maxwell. "It was three in the morning, I heard the hour strike. Darkness had given place to light. White roofs and glittering gables gleamed under the moon riding high in cloudless blue. "The whole town seemed to be awake. There were lights in the windows and lights in the streets. I leaped out of bed and went to the window - the window that looks out upon the church. There was a light upon the roof - a man with a lantern standing upon the parapet looking towards the river and waving it to and fro as if to signal. "It was a familiar face, the old pilot of last night and St Nicholas, the friend of sailors. And I saw three ships come sailing in upon the flood tide into the Stour and into the harbour of Harwich.
"I was soon dressed and running up the street towards the quay. From the three ships there came three kings and each carried a golden cup and they went through the streets till they came to the church of St Nicholas. They stood before the door of the church and entered in. "Now when they knelt before the altar to worship Him, who is King of Kings, and to share the sacred feast, the priest who was before the altar took the golden chalice and with it touched the cups of the kings. And the three kings bowed low and went forth from the church and into the inn. And in the cups of the kings was poured forth wine to all who should receive it.
"And the old pilot told me that in the cups was the wine of life and because the kings have come to Bethlehem the wine which they carry has become precious, and because their cups have touched the sacred cup upon the altar all wine in the inns of the town and of this land has become sacred to me of goodwill. "But these were difficult sayings and I besought the pilot to explain why the kings should visit Harwich for it does not lie upon the way to Bethlehem, but all he replied was: 'Know you not that all places are upon the way to Bethleham?'
"The clock struck nine, I awoke and looked out of the window, a cloak of snow was over everything in Harwich. I was soon out and walking to the harbour. Then I remembered my dream, suddenly, for it had gone from me. "So now, whoever you may be, when you go to Harwich and see the sign think of good St Nicholas and learn to drink well and wisely of the wine of life." (The Standard, Thursday 23 December 1982, p.4)
The “Liverpool” arrived at Harwich at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday 7 December; there the survivors were landed and accommodated in local hotels. On 9 December an inquest was opened, before W. Codd, Coroner for Essex, at the Three Cups Hotel, Harwich, on the thirteen bodies that had been recovered from the wreck and brought to Harwich. On 10 December a second inquest was held before the same Coroner and jury on the bodies of four men and two women brought ashore by the “Liverpool” the night before. (The wreck of the Deutschland, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1980, p.20)
The hearing was resumed at Harwich Petty Sessions, on Tuesday, of the charge against Frederick Arthur Bray, licensee of the Three Cups Hotel, for permitting his licensed premises to be used by persons of irregular habits, and allowed them to remain for a period longer than was necessary for obtaining reasonable refreshment. The Magistrates present were the Mayor (Mr. W.H. Elwell), the Deputy-Mayor (Mr. W. McLearon), Mr F. Cottingham, and Mr. J.E. Cann, Mr. F.P. Sutthery again prosecuted, the defendant being represented by Mr. A.S. Leighton (Ipswich). The hearing occupied about five hours.
Mr. Leighton, addressing the Magistrates in defence, said the Cups Hotel was the primary hotel in Harwich, and that fact made it more important, both in the interests of the defendant and the persons who used the house, that the facts should be fully and carefully investigated. He had no doubt that the Bench would come to the conclusion that Mr. Bray had no knowledge that the persons were undesirable characters, and that being so, there should not be a conviction. Mr. Leighton severely criticised the action of the police in making allegations against the character of the barmaid at the Cups. Mr. Bray, he said, had taken every possible precaution in the conduct of his house: he had notices printed, and hung up in the slip and bars, bearing a warning as to staying on the premises. Mr. Bray and his staff had taken every care that the house was conducted to the satisfaction of the brewers and of the Bench.
A large number of witnesses, including members of the staff, and customers using the house, gave evidence, all denying that they had seen anything of an improper nature taking place at the house.
After deliberating for nearly an hour and half, during which time the Magistrates visited the locus in quo for the purpose of inspection, the Justices returned into Court, when the Mayor announced that they had given very anxious consideration to the matter; they felt the importance of it to both sides. There were four of them on the Bench, and they were equally divided; therefore, they could give no decision. The Mayor stated they were quite satisfied there was no ground for the allegation against the barmaid. (East Anglian Daily Times, 1 December , 1909)
"Among the Three Cups' more famous visitors was Admiral Lord Nelson who stayed there with his mistress Lady Hamilton. It is said Lady Hamilton's ghost still haunts the pub - drifting up the stairs like smoke." (Pub Crawl Around Harwich, by Ian Pickering with pictures by Ray Wood, The Standard, Friday 6, 1985, p.15)
Mr. Grimwade (of the firm of Sexton and Grimwade) sold by auction, on Thursday on the premises, the Three Cups Hotel. In introducing the property to the company the Auctioneer pointed out that this was one of the most important and valuable properties in the Borough of Harwich. It stood in the best possible position for trade purposes, being opposite the Town Hall and Post Office, and within three minutes of the Railway Station, pier and beach. The property was freehold, and the purchaser would have possession on completion of the purchase. The accommodation was ample for carrying on one of the largest businesses in the Eastern Counties. An excellent business had, he said, been carried on for many years, and he emphasised the fact that the property had never been in the market within the recollection of anyone present, having been in the hands of the present owner (Mr. John Bull) and his family for nearly a century. With regard to the furniture in the hotel, an inventory had been taken, and the purchaser of the hotel property would have the option of taking the furniture at a valuation; or the right was reserved of disposing of it on the premises by auction prior to the 31st of July next. – Mr. Jeffrey (a gentleman present) called attention to the condition that certain fixtures should be taken at a valuation, which he contended was unreasonable. He asked how such things as bells, wires, and cranks, stoves and sinks could be separated from the freehold. – The Auctioneer held that it was a usual condition, and thought it advisable to adhere to it. – The sale then proceeded, the bidding for the hotel commencing at £2,000 by Mr. W. Gooding, Coach and Horses, Harwich, and rising by £100 to £2,700, when the bids dropped to £50, reaching £2,800 it was knocked down to Mr. Walter J. Watts, Harwich. The next lot, a block of buildings, comprising a small residence, in the occupation of John Tye at a rental of £14 per annum, the hotel laundry, and two cottages, let at rents amounting to £16 6s., and some excellent stabling, all freehold, and adjacent to the hotel, was sold to Mr. John Harper Wallis, Dovercourt, for £360. – A small residence, No.8, Church Street, adjoining the Post-office, and let to Mr. James Hammond at an annual rental of £22, was purchased by Mr. Herbert Jervis White-Jervis at £280. – Mr. Ross Christopherson also offered by auction at the same Hotel on Thursday a freehold residence, known as “Esplanade House,” situate in King’s Quay Street, and commanding a view of the Green and entrance to Harwich Harbour. The bids rose to £510, at which sum the property was withdrawn. It was subsequently sold privately to Mr. Green, carter, for £550. – Mr. W. Salter also sold by auction at Messrs. Crane Brothers’ Enclosed Yard, on Friday, a large quantity of China, glass, earthenware, fancy goods, &c., and good prices were realised. (Harwich & Manningtree Free Press, Saturday 29 May 1886, p.4)
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