The Waggon and Horses is lovely old thatched inn at Beckhampton in the North Wessex Downs. It was built in 1669, partly from material from the Avebury Stone Circle just over a mile away (photos 1& 3).
Its location on the Old Bath Road made it a perfect stop for horse pulled freight wagons, and this the image on the inn sign (photo 2). At the time the route was on a track that went directly over the high downs and teams of carthorses were needed to both pull and push the wagons over the hill.
By the eighteenth century the inn was an important stop on the coaching route between London and Bath. New turnpike roads on the route inspired the building of the much grander Beckhampton Inn which attracted the wealthier coach travelling passengers. The less wealthy though continued to use the Waggon and Horses. After the demise of coaching the new inn became a private house, and this is now the centre of Beckhampton’s horse racing industry.
Charles Dickens must have been one of the poorer passengers because he stayed at the Waggon and Horses. He used it as the model for the inn in the Bagman’s Tale in The Pickwick Papers, about commercial traveller Tom Smart. Lazing in front of the fire he saw
a charming prospect of the bar reflected in glass over the chimney piece, with delightful rows of green bottles and gold labels…and cheeses and boiled hams, and rounds of beef, arranged on shelves in the most tempting and delicious array.
The pub continues to offer top quality food on a classy menu, though pub favourites like fish and chips are there too. Beer is from Wadworths with four of their cask ales on offer, and there is an extensive ranges of gins.
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