7: The Cock and Bottle


Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle


Located on Swadford Street, the front façade of this public house has always intrigued me. At first glance, it gives the impression of being at latest of the 17th century, possibly even Mediaeval, by its comparatively low height for a three storey building, its oriel windows and small gables. Is it really of this period or a Victorian construction replicating an earlier form of architecture?

On studying an early map dated 1757 I find that the current Cock and Bottle Yard, to the rear of the property, extended at that time right through to Swadford Street. This suggests that at least part of the front façade to the present building is of a later date. A map of 1832 also shows the yard extending through to the main street which further appears to confirm this suggestion. The Yard itself and the building to the rear of the Inn is certainly at least old as 1729, since this date and the initials K.S. are displayed over a window in the building. The initials refer to Katherine Sugden who was the owner of the building at that time.

The ‘Manor Call Books’ suggest that John Manks became tenant of the Cock and Bottle in 1731. An entry in the Parish Registry refers to his wedding to Mary Hartley in that year and it describes him as a Victualler. Perhaps the date the Cock and Bottle Yard access from Swadford Street was sealed will give some clue as to when the front façade of the building took on its present form? The first Ordinance Survey of Skipton was published in the 1850s and this still shows a passage through to Swadford Street. In the 1909 version the yard is shown sealed. It is therefore suggested that the present front façade must have been formed sometime between the years 1855 and 1909.

Unfortunately, the front façade in question is fully rendered, so the masonry behind cannot be examined to give clues to its history. The ground floor window surrounds appear to be rather later than 1729, though the right hand jamb of the right hand window reveals a splay which could denote the remains of a mullioned window, say 1700? Interestingly, an internal beam and floor joists above this window, could confirm this sort of date? Certainly, the left hand ground floor window surrounds are what one might expect of the mid to latter part of the 19th century.

The first floor oriel windows are more than likely to be Victorian replicas of past architectural styles as are the interesting attic windows having unmoulded splayed mullions and four centred hood moulds. However the attic roof space reveals quite a surprise. To the centre and East are the remains of Cruck timbers which are Mediaeval, whilst to the West is a comparatively modern roof truss, possibly on the line of the old passageway from the yard to Swadford Street, which suggests its installation sometime between the years 1855 and 1909. It is feasible that the Cruck timbers could have been reused from a building elsewhere in the Town, but then Swadford Street is an ancient, possibly Roman, street. so it is highly likely that the Cruck timbers in the roof of the Cock and Bottle are part of a Mediaeval building on the same site.

My conclusion therefore is that the front façade of the building is a wonderfully romantic reproduction of earlier times created in the mid 19th century to be enjoyed by all. Much of the structure behind however, must date to at least as early as 1729, if not Mediaeval times. This is, in my opinion, a very important historic building in Skipton and worthy of further detailed study in greater depth.

Barry Rawson, June 2014