Dr. Samuel Johnson, poet, essayist and lexicographer (famous as the collater of the first English dictionary) was great friends with Ashbourne's Revd John Taylor and a frequent
guest at his Mansion House in Church Street. Johnson was often accompanied by Boswell his biographer and so we are privileged to details of these visits.
At the town end of Church Street, where it becomes St. Johns Street, is "The Royal Green Man and Blackamoor's Head Commercial and Family hotel" with its road-divning gallows sign - listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest inn sign in the world. It commemorates the amalgamation of 2 coaching inns in 1825. Johnson and Boswell never actually stayed here, but in September 1777 they were given a meal by Mrs. Killingley, the landlady, as Boswell records:
"I took my post-chaise from the Green Man, a very good inn at Ashbourne, the Mistress of which, a mighty civil gentlewoman, curtseying very low, presented me with an engraving of the sign of her house; to which she had subjoined in her own handwriting, an address in such singular simplicity of style that I have preserved it, pasted upon one of the boards of my original journal at this time, and shall here insert It for the amusement of my readers.
M. Killingley's duty waits upon Mr. Boswell; is exceedingly obliged to him for this favour, whenever he comes this way, hopes for a continuance of the same. Would Mr. Boswell name the house to his extensive acquaintance. It would be a singular favour conferred on one who has it not in her power to make any other return but her most grateful thanks and sincere prayers for his happiness in time and in a blessed eternity. "
The pub has two bar areas, each with a different character; Johnson's is modern and lively whilst Boswell's Lounge Bar is traditional and relaxed with dark wood panelling topped by a dark red frieze and ceiling. It is comfortable but spoilt by the social club type tables and chairs. A wide selection of food is available and the pub is open all day. There is also a very nice bitter, called Dr. Johnson's Bitter, brewed exclusively for the pub.