The Star & Garter was the town's main hotel, which used to be in Victoria Street, where Pizza Hut now stands. It closed in April 1961 and was demolished in about 1964 when the area was redeveloped to make way for the Mander Centre. The building occupied the site of a 16th century half-timbered house in which King Charles I sheltered during the Civil War, and from this the hotel was named. The hotel was re-built in 1836 in-character with the original building.
In the 20th century the hotel was a popular place to hold parties and special events and many dances were held there.

 

 

An advert from 1939 which gives an impression of how the hotel looked at the time.

The following photographs and hotel history are from a booklet that was produced by the hotel in the mid 1920s.


The restaurant.

The historical associations of the original hotel are deeply interesting. About 60 years ago the present Victoria Street was better known as Cock Street, the name being altered to Victoria Street after the visit to the town of Queen Victoria in 1866. On the site of the present handsome building was its ancient predecessor, the Old Star & Garter Inn. This three-storied house, a half-timbered building in the Elizabethan style of architecture, in all probability dated its erection back to the dim ages of the middle of the 16th century.
From a little distance, the view of the building with its heavy-looking porch and red-tiled roof presented an attractive and by no means an ungraceful appearance. On the contrary, the very irregularities of its outline gave to it an air of quiet and almost dignified purpose. The interior of the old hostelry was quite as comfortable as its exterior was quaint and inviting. On the ground floor, on one side of the entrance was a commodious dining or general assembly room. On the other side was a smoke room, and beyond the cosy little bar was a fair sized kitchen or tap-room.


The writing room.


The lounge.

The rooms above were mostly sleeping chambers, with one or two larger apartments on the second storey for the private private accommodation of travellers. At the back of the inn was a large yard, complete with stabling and all the necessary conveniences of an old-fashioned house.

It is open to question whether the Old Star and Garter could claim to be, as has often been asserted, the oldest licensed house in the town. However, in its favour it can be said that of all the old taverns that have been swept away in recent years, by successive improvement schemes, and of the few still remaining, not one of them can compare with the Old Star and Garter in regard to the historical and other interesting associations connected with it.

Chief amongst these historical associations is that which links it with the unfortunate King Charles the First.

Beneath its ancient roof King Charles sought temporary shelter on his march from Shrewsbury to London, a few days before the fierce battle between the Royalist Army and the Parliamentary Forces in command of the Earl of Essex, at Edge Hill.

At that time, in 1642, the house was not a licensed inn, but the private residence of a certain Madame St. Andrew, by whom His Majesty was entertained. She was either sister or aunt to Mr. Henry Gough, a wealthy merchant, to whom the property belonged.

Cock Street was then little better than a narrow, irregular lane, bounded on either side with barns, fold-yards, and a few scattered two-storied, red tiled dwelling houses and straw-thatched cottages.


The front of the hotel.


The drawing room.

The only structures now remaining that can be supposed to have been standing at the time of King Charles’s visit are the half-timbered building at the bottom corner of John Street – and which, it may be stated, is the only old dwelling-house in this part of the country that presents in its construction the ‘herring-bone’ style of bricksetting – and the three low-browed tenements on the opposite side. To these, perhaps, may be added the ancient-looking shops nearer to Queen Square and immediately facing these the old licensed house known by the sign of the Spread Eagle.

In its palmy days, early in the eighteenth century, the Old Star and Garter had a genial mirth-provoking host, by the name, Paul Law. Born in 1799, and reared beneath the roof of the old house that had afforded temporary shelter to the martyr King of England. Young Paul, as he grew up, became a general favourite with its frequenters. In the year 1818, Paul’s father John died and Paul took, to a large extent, his late father’s place in assisting his widowed mother in the management of the business. A few year’s later, when his mother died, he became the landlord. 


The old Star & Garter Inn.

From that period the fortunes of the house gradually improved and the custom greatly increased.

Many happy stories are told to the pleasant, good-looking and humorous young host, whose house was patronised by many of the local squires and gentry. He drew around him a numerous, but at the same time select circle of regular frequenters, real jovial spirits like himself, who nightly made the old oak beams and rafters ring with the hilarious laughter provoked by the landlord’s quips and jokes, his racy anecdotes and smart repartee.

The landlord, despite his easy, careless disposition was, however, shrewd enough to observe that, regardless of the many quaint and historical associations of the hostel, it was neither sufficiently large nor attractive enough externally and internally for modern requirements.


Queen Square.

Desirous of keeping pace with the times, he interviewed the owner, Mr. John Gough, and submitted to him a proposal for pulling down the old premises and erecting on the site a hotel of similar character, so far as the preservation of  the similar outlines was concerned, but of more extensive and handsome proportions.

Mr. Gough, who took a kindly interest in the landlord, undertook to execute the proposed alterations and improvements at his own expense.

In the year 1834 the work of pulling down the old structure in portions at a time, so as not to interfere unduly with the business commenced. In October, 1836 it was brought to a successful completion, the expenditure having amounted to over £7,000. One of the apartments on the second floor, selected as occupying about the same position as the one in the old house in which King Charles was supposed to have slept, was named “The King’s Room”. It was never allowed to be occupied, but was open for the inspection of visitors.


Compton Holloway.

Paul Law was keenly desirous of preserving the historical associations of the place, and he had this particular apartment fitted up so as to represent the period of His Majesty’s Visit. In the room was an old-fashioned canopied bed, but whether it was, as was asserted, the same one on which the unhappy King slept on the occasion of his visit, it is difficult to state. A cabinet of carved, black oak, the chairs and other accessories were all arranged “en-suite”, whilst the walls of the chamber were adorned with pictures and oil paintings all having references to the life of Charles I.

In November 1836, a house-warming dinner, to mark the re-opening of the improved hotel was given, and was attended by a large and representative gathering of the gentry and leading tradesmen of the town.

In later years further additions and improvements have been effected at the Star and Garter Inn, so that today it ranks as one of the most attractive and comfortable commercial inns and family hotels in Wolverhampton.

Return to the Services Hall