I’m not sure how ancient I am. My current innkeeper thinks I am about 500 years old but my being but a simple old inn, my memory fails me. My keeper believes too that I was named after the then eponymous reigning monarch, but I fear it was no-one so grand: GEORGE was the original victualler who first opened the structure as a hostelry to lodge merchants travelling between Sheffield and Castleton trading in, I recall, pins from England’s first pin factory here in Hathersage.
Over the years – centuries even – I have had numerous keepers, some of them quite famous: George Morton, for instance, was said to be “familiar” with the author Charlotte Bronte, who is said to have modelled her novels around Hathersage; another was a Mister Liquorice, whose claim to fame was that he arrested “Lord Haw Haw”, the Second World War propagandist.
When brewers started acquiring pubs as outlets for their ale, I was acquired by Tennants, who were themselves then acquired by Whitbreads (strange to think they went on to become Premier Inns), and in the 1960’s I was one of their most prestigious hotels. I recall in those days, when licensing hours were longer in the country than in the city, the young blades of Sheffield climbed into their E-Types and Minis at 10.30pm and raced for the last pint before 11.0’clock closing time at my place. A far cry from the coach and horses that I remember from little more than 100 years ago.
Alas I became unloved and unkempt for the last few decades of the last century, until lifelong hotelier Eric Marsh – he of the renowned Cavendish Hotel on Chatsworth Estate – came one day looking for a pension plan. He made a cheeky bid for me, and in 1998 I became his. Cheap I might have been, but I had character, and Eric, recognising my potential, lavished nearly as much on me as I had cost to buy. And he is still doing it. From my being a grotty pub with even grottier rooms, I am now a posh hotel with four star – standard en-suite rooms, a highly rated restaurant, a trendy bar, and function rooms to accommodate anything from an executive conference for four to a wedding party for upto one hundred.
Eric’s latest idea is to plant a vintage grey Ferguson tractor – with sheep! – outside my west wing: do not ask me why, for I know not, but I see he has named it after me, and I hear a LOT of people talking about us…mmmm.
Ghost written for GEORGE by
Eric Marsh, Proprietor, The George Hotel, Hathersage, S32 1BB