Staffordshire - Pubs and Inns with a literary connection

A plaque on the wall of the George Hotel states that playwright George Farquhar stayed here whilst recruiting troops in Lichfield and he wrote some of his play The Recruiting Officer here around 1705/6. Dublin born Farquhar initially became an actor but gave up the stage after accidentally wounding a fellow player during a fencing scene. He then took to writing comedies, the last two of which, ‘The Recruiting Officer’ and ‘The Beaux Stratagem’ were his best and are still regularly performed today.
The Beaux Stratagem was actually written about life at The George and certain characters are based on the family who ran the inn at the time. The play tells the story of two young bucks - Aimwell and Archer, who, having spent all their money by living too well in London, leave the capital and roam from town to town in search of love and fortune. In order to find a wealthy heiress for at least one of them, they pose as master and servant – exchanging roles from one town to the next.
The play begins in Lichfield, with Boniface, the seemingly honest and hospitable innkeeper welcoming the arrival of the two confidence tricksters. They do meet two lovely, wealthy women but problems abound. As the story unfolds it is revealed that almost none of the players are quite who they seem. When Archer entrusts a strongbox full of money to the cheery host, Cherry, at first suspects Archer of being a "parliament-man", come down to Litchfield to buy votes. But later she decides he and his servant are highwaymen in disguise. Boniface is in fact in league with a gang of thieves led by the highwayman Gibbet (disguised as a soldier). About the only person who turns out to be what they appear is Cherry.
At the time Farquhar stayed here the George was a galleried inn and Snape’s map of 1781 shows it as a compact square of buildings around a courtyard – the entrance being on Bird Street. When the railway system was established in 1838, travel by stage coach disappeared and the archway in the centre, through which the coaches passed to reach the inn-yard behind, was blocked in. The George was later redeveloped as an hotel with provisions for persons to stay for more than a day or two. Over the past few years The Victorian George has been restored to its former glory.

The George - Lichfield - Staffordshire - George Farquhar

Copyright T.W. Townsend - the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and any observations were correct at the time of the review.

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