The Swan, Lichfield

The Swan Hotel, Bird Street, Lichfield, WS13 6NP was an old Posting Inn.

The earliest mention of The Swan is in the ‘Victoria Country History’, in the Estates of the Cathedral Clergy. The vicars choral received grants of houses, land, and rent charges from the early 13th century and became the largest clerical landowners in the town. A rental of 1497–8 shows the extent of their property, which included the Swan in Bird Street (acquired in 1362).

In 1535, it was known as the ‘Lily White Swan’.

In 1572, the Lichfield waits were mentioned visiting The Swan, when they travelled to Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire to play for the WILLOUGHBY family.

In 1634, the Lichfield waits were praised by visitors who heard them at The Swan.

Like all public houses still standing, it has constantly been remoulded. The 17th and 18th century saw the most improvements to the three storey building. It grew to be one of Lichfield’s two principal Coaching Inns, serving the London to Holyhead and Carlisle road. It has a scrolled wrought-iron sign bracket above entrance.


Amongst its visitors have been Elias ASHMOLE, Dr Samuel JOHNSON and James BOSWELL.

In the later 1740s a main of cocks was held at The Swan. A pit was mentioned there in 1800.

Road improvements added to Lichfield’s popularity as a stopping-off place for travellers. Carrier, postal and passenger services connected Lichfield with London and other localities and led to the expansion in the size and number of coaching inns. Four inns dominated the trade, the George, Swan and King’s Head in Bird Street and the Talbot on Bore Street. Passengers and horses rested overnight in the inns or waited for a connecting service, creating their own demand for
local goods and services.

Political factions based their headquarters at local hostelries in Lichfield. At election time Tories met at the Swan and Whigs at the George.

In 1790, a dispute was settled between performing and non-performing members of musicians. The performers were to decide matters relating to the society's musical life, such as the purchase of scores and instruments, the choice of music to be played, and the restriction on the number of flutes, horns, and oboes to be used at a time. The number of non-performing members was fixed at a maximum of 60, and admittance to the feast-day concert and dinner was to be by
ticket only. The landlord was barred from membership and forbidden to invite outsiders to attend the concert, the venue of which was transferred from the King's Head to The Swan.

In 1828, the Lichfield City bailiffs closed The Swan pit, and despite initial resistance cock fighting there probably ceased.

In 1828, 1829 and 1830 The Swan was run by Thomas DUNN.

In 1828-29 coaches called at The Swan on route to various destinations

To Birmingham:- The Royal Mail (from Sheffield) calls at the George & Swan Inns alternatively, every afternoon at two. The Telegraph calls at the George & Swan Inns alternatively, every evening (except Sundays at six – the Devonshire calls at the same Inns alternatively.

To Liverpool:- The Royal Mail (from London) calls at the George & Swan Inns alternatively, every morning at 9; goes through Stone, Newcastle, Congleton, Knutsford & Warrington - the Alliance, calls at the same Inns alternatively, every morning (Sundays excepted) at six – the Express calls at the Swan Inn, every afternoon at nine; goes through Stone, Stoke, Burslem, Knutsford, Warrington, Etc. – and the Umpire calls at the Turk’s Head & Swan Inns alternatively every morning (Mondays excepted) at six; goes the same route as the Mail.

To London:- The Royal Mail (from Liverpool) calls at the George & Swan Inns alternatively, every morning at half past-eight; goes through Coventry, Stoney Stratford, Dunstable & St Albans – the Royal Mail (from Chester & Holyhead) calls at the George Inn every afternoon at half-past three; goes through Atherstone, Hinckley, Northampton, Woburn, Dunstable, St
Albans, Ec. – the Alliance (from Liverpool) calls at the Swan Inn every evening (Sunday excepted) at six; goes the same route as the Liverpool mail - the Express calls at the same Inn every morning at two.

To Sheffield:- The Royal Mail (from Birmingham) calls at the George and Swan Inns alternately, every morning at eight; goes through Burton, Derby, Ripley, Higham and Chesterfield. The Devonshire calls at the George and Swan Inns alternately, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings at nine; goes through Uttoxeter, Ashbourne, Bakewell, Etc – and the Telegraph calls at the same Inns alternatively every morning (Sundays excepted) at eleven; goes through Burton,
Derby, Chesterfield, Etc.

To Wolverhampton:- The Mail, from the George and Swan Inns alternately, every afternoon at half-past two.

In 1832, The Lichfield Newsroom was opened in a room in a house in Market Street owned by the Revd. J. T. LAW, the diocesan chancellor. It was intended for the use of gentlemen living in and around the city, as well as army officers temporarily stationed there. Members paid an annual subscription of 30 shillings (£1.10.00) or (£1.50), which was reduced to 25 shillings in 1836. The room was open on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. (10 p.m. from 1835); there was a selection of London and provincial newspapers, but no magazines. From 1837, the enterprise was in debt, chiefly because LAW, who had acted as chairman, secretary, and treasurer, devoted less time to it. In August 1841 there were 55 members, and in December that year 45. In January 1842 the institution was moved to a room at the Swan. It remained there until 1845.

By 1876, a hare-coursing club had been established by the landlord of The Swan, with meetings held on estates around Lichfield. The club still existed in 1891.

In 1881, the Hotel Keeper at The Swan was Sarah Marie OWEN, a widower, aged 50 from Stourbridge in Worcestershire, who had three daughters and two sons. The staff included a kitchen maid, cook, washer, chambermaids, parlour maid, billiard marker, barmaids and servants.

The Garden of The Swan 1899

The Garden of The Swan 1899

In 1901, a bowls club was established at The Swan, using a green on the north side of the building. In 1922 the club was named The Swan Bowling Club.

The 1890’s and early 1900's saw a phase when the public house was a meeting place for many a group and organisation, including the Road & Path Cycling Association. Formed in about 1895, the Road and Path Cycling Association had a short but busy life, being dissolved in about 1903.


In 1962 The Swan Bowling Club was re-formed as the Lichfield City Club and moved from The Swan to a green laid out by the city council in Beacon Park.

On the 5th of February 1952, The Swan was listed as a Grade II Listed Building by English Heritage Building ID: 382591.

In the late 1980’s, The Swan was in use both as a bar and college.

In early 2000, due to dwindling users and rising costs, The Swan closed.

On the 10th August 2005 the building reopened as an accommodation development by Oakmoor Estates comprising of nine suites.


The garden of The Swan development 2011