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Staple Hall Inn

In Witney at the junction of Bridge Street, West End, Broad Hill and Newland, to the north of the River Windrush.

The original Staple Hall that stood on this site in Bridge Street is said to have been erected by Sir Roger de Stapleton in the 14th century at the same time as he had Exeter College built in Oxford [1]. It is thought that at one time Oxford colleges used the building as a place of refuge from the plague. It presumably acquired its name through being sited close to a wool hall.

Staple Hall Inn, Witney - name stone by a side gate.
Staple Hall Inn, Witney - name stone by a side gate.
The stone building that stands there today is mainly 17th century and was almost totally rebuilt as an inn following a fire, by Ursula Marriott (an ancestor of the Marriott blanket making family of Witney) and her husband William Townsend in 1668. It remained in their family until 1795 and although William was killed by a falling tree in 1686, his widow Ursula presided as the Grand Old Dame of the inn for very many years; she died in 1731 at the impressive age of 106 [2]. The Staple Hall Inn became popular with local wool merchants and fellmongers on their way to and from the Cotswolds and for many years it was also a staging post for the 'Rival' and 'Retaliator' horse drawn passenger coaches [3].

It was here that the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company held some of their general meetings for the first nine years of its existence from 1711 until the Blanket Hall was built. Dinner was provided by the Townsends at sixpence a head and was paid for out of the Blanket Company's funds [4]. The building today houses a nursing home.

Clare Sumner