A Country Inn in 1839

One of my favorite activities as a writer is to visualize the space my characters move about in.  Naturally I was thrilled when I ran across An Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture and Furniture; containing numerous designs for dwelling from the cottage to the villa, including farm houses, farmeries, and other agricultural buildings; several designs for country inns, public houses, and parochial schools; with the requisite fittings-up, fixtures, and furniture; and appropriate offices, gardens, and garden scenery; each design accompanied by analytical and critical remarks, illustrative of the principles of architectural science and taste on which it is composed, by John Claudius Loudon.  The volume I’m excerpting was published in 1839 but earlier editions exist.

Let’s start with a country inn:


A complete Country Inn may be considered with reference to its accommodation, arrangement, or distribution, its situation and architectural style. The accommodation includes that of the house, of the stable offices, and of the gardens and grounds.

The Accommodation of the house, we have already said, is essentially that of a private house, with the housekeeper’s room, or bar, placed in a conspicuous situation, instead of in a private one; and with the store-room and larder also exposed to public view. The inn contains an entrance hall, in which there ought always to be a porter to announce the arrival of guests, by ringing one bell for the hostler, and another for the waiter; an ante-room or strangers’ room, into which the guests are first shown, and where they are waited on by the master, mistress, or some upper servant, to ascertain the kind of accommodation which they desire. A complete inn ought to have large rooms for parties to dine in on public occasions, or in which may be held public meetings, assemblies, balls, &C. : it ought also to have suites of apartments, consisting of one or two sitting-rooms, one or two bed-rooms, a maid-servant’s or nurse’s room, and a water-closet; such suites of apartments being frequently required in first-rate Inns, by wealthy families who travel with their own carriages and horses, and who wish to live at an inn as privately as if they were at home. There ought also to be suites of apartments for single persons, consisting of a bed-room and sitting-room each. There ought to be small dining-rooms for small parties to dine together; and numerous bed-rooms, some with dressing-rooms, and some without them. In a large inn, there ought to be also a billiard-room for exercise and amusement during bad weather and long evenings; and also one or more musical instruments; and in every inn, whether large or small, there ought to be a library of books; which may be put under the care of the bar-woman, and lent out to guests at a small sum per volume. Among the conveniences, there should be hot, cold, saline, vapour, and air baths.

The Bar or Office of an Inn being its characteristic feature, it is proper that it should be shortly described: its situation ought to be central in the interior of large buildings, commanding views of the front entrance hall and back entrance; and, as far as practicable, of the foot of the principal staircase, and along the principal passages. These objects can only be obtained by having the room of some size, almost insulated by broad passages, and with windows on all sides; or having the sides formed by glazed partitions. Considerable assistance might be afforded to the bar-woman, to enable her to see in every direction, by looking-glasses, judiciously disposed without and within the bar, as these would reflect places and persons which could not otherwise be seen. The situation of the bar, in a narrow building, may be at the end of the entrance-hall, with one side looking towards it, and the one opposite looking towards the yard. In size, the bar need never be large; because, though, in small public houses and inns, it is used as a shop or store-room, as well as an office, yet, in general, it is used in the latter capacity only. Here the books of the inn are kept, and orders given to the cook, the keeper of the cellar, the ostler, or the stable-yard keeper; and here also all monies are given in, which have been received by the different servants or waiters. Adjoining the bar there is usually the private room of the master and mistress of the house; and the larder and general store-room are commonly near, and within sight of it.

The Accommodation of the Stable-court ought to be proportionate to that of the house. In a conspicuous situation, at the entrance to the court, there ought to be the office of the superintendent of this department, which should command a view of the interior of the stable-yard; and also, if possible, be seen from, and look to, a window in the bar-room. In very extensive country inns, the stable-yard should be a distinct part of the establishment from the farm yard, for obvious reasons; but in small establishments they may often be combined, the cattle-courts being altogether separated from the courts for post horses, travellers’ horses, and carriages. The principal buildings in the stable yard of an inn are the stables, coach-houses, and houses for corn and fodder. There ought also to be an ample harness-room, a room for boiling or steaming food for sick horses, an hospital, a shoeing-house or smithy, and a wheelwright’s shop, or place for repairing carriages. There are other minor accommodations which will readily occur. In all large establishments there ought to be a riding-house; and the business of a riding master might be very well combined with that of innkeeper.

The Accommodations in the Grounds are first and principally a dairy, a poultry house, and an ice bouse; there ought also to be a complete farmery; a kitchen-garden, with forcing-houses; an orchard or a vineyard, according to the climate; and a large park for guests to take exercise in on horseback or in carriages, and for a herd of deer, as well as other animals for profit and pleasure, including what is called game. Near the house there ought to be lawns and pleasure-grounds for pedestrian exercise.

In Public Houses, or Inns of an inferior Description, all these accommodations must necessarily be very limited: the park may be dispensed with; the farmery included in the stable-court; and the pleasure-ground limited to a bowling-green, tea-gardens, and place for playing at skittles or other games.

The Situation of an Inn, or Public House, for ordinary purposes, should in general either be on or near a public road, or on the margin of a canal or river; but the particular points along roads or other lines for public conveyances on which inns should be placed are subjects which require some consideration, especially in new countries, where most people travel in stages or coaches, which stop for refreshment only at certain distances. The great object ought to be, so to arrange the stopping places, as that the inns may always be built in dry healthy situations, with extensive and agreeable prospects; we say extensive, because one object, with all travellers, is, to form some general idea of the country through which they pass. With respect to inns of recreation, it is obvious, that to place them on any other spot than one of great natural beauty can never be a voluntary act; since situation and accompaniments, much more than the plan of the dwelling, will naturally be the principal inducements to guests. Under inns of this sort, we of course include those of watering-places, baths, springs, fishing and shooting stations, and various others, which it would lead us beyond our proposed limits to describe.

A Country Inn in the Italian Style; having, besides public rooms, Thirty Bedrooms, and Stabling for Twenty Horses.

inn1

inn2

Accommodation. The general appearance is shown in fig. 1295; and the ground floor, fig. 1298, consists of an entrance porch, a; vestibule and staircase, b; two parlours, c; passage, d, to the garden, x; store-room, e; bar, f; family sitting-room, g; back parlour, h; back stairs, i; water-closet, k; tap-room, l ; kitchen, with oven and hot water boiler, m; back-kitchen and scullery, n; coal-house, o; larder and pantry, p ; dust-hole, q; boot-closet, r ; covered yard for gigs, chaises, &c., sstables, t t; coach house, u; privies for servants, v v; stable-yard, w; garden, x; veranda for skittles, y; and liquid manure tank, z. The chamber-floor, fig. 1296, has two sitting-rooms, a a; and a large room for balls, or public meetings, b; the ceiling of this last room is on a level with the ceilings of the rooms of the attic story, and is marked, in fig. 1297, by the same letters. All the other rooms in the chamber-floor and attic story, figs. 1296 and 1297 (thirty in number), are sleeping-apartments.

Construction. The walls are supposed to be of brick, and the roof covered with Peake’s Italian tiles, such as are shown in § 50 or in § 1368 ; the eaves being supported by wrought cantalivers. To render the bed-rooms fire-proof, the joists may be covered with plain tiles bedded in Roman cement, and having a coating over them of the same material; the tiles and cement being closely joined to the brickwork of the walls, and the skirting being formed of stucco or cement. The floors, after being made a year or more, may be washed over with oil, and painted either a plain colour or an imitation of any particular kind of wood, marble, or stone. The ceilings may be formed in the same manner. The staircases may be of cast-iron, the treads being covered with stone plates. The garden, x, is shown with a circular grass-plot in the centre, and a border of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and flowers next the walls. The kitchen-garden and farm are not seen in this plan.

General Estimate- The cubic contents of this building are 201,908 feet; which, at 5d. per foot, is £4203 : 8s.: Ad., the probable cost of an edifice in this style, plainly finished, in the neighbourhood of London.

Remarks. The ground plan of this Design was contributed by Mr. Taylor, and the elevation has been supplied by Mr. Robertson. The inn seems well adapted for country business; having large rooms for meetings, a spacious covered yard for the protection of carriages of every description, and abundance of stabling. A large kitchen garden will be required for such an establishment, unless there be a market-garden close at hand.

 

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