The Rose & Crown was located at Lower Somercotes and is believed to date from the 17th century or very ealry 18th century. It was one of the oldest Inns in the area and certainly the oldest in Somercotes. As a traditional inn, it catered for customers travelling on the old road from Alfreton to Pye Bridge and beyond, which at the time it was built ran from Flowery Lees Lane, across the back of Cotes Park, past Muckram and Pennytown, through Birchwood and over Smotherfly to join the road near the Black Horse Inn.
Traditionally, staging Inns were positioned approximately seven miles apart, but this was not always the case if it was thought that it was economically viable to build one closer. The Rose & Crown would have been about 3 miles along the road from the two main coaching inns of Alfreton, the Angel Inn and The George Inn. The Rose & Crown would also have been ideally situated at the southern end of the mining areas of Birchwood and Smotherfly, which by the 17th century were already being developed.
The Inn probably prospered until the construction of the Alfreton-Nottingham Turnpike [under part of the Newhaven-Nottingham Turnpike Act of 1759]. Instead of repairing and widening the old road, the Turnpike Trustees took the decision to drive a new road across what was then called Somercotes Common, joining Alfreton with the hamlet of Pye Bridge in a more direct route. The decision to create a new road effectively circumvented the hamlets of Muckram, Pennytown and Birchwood, consigning them to obscurity. Only Lower Birchwood still survives as it is on the route from Somercotes to South Normanton and Pinxton. As well as the new turnpike by-passing these hamlets and shifting the focus of Somercotes to “Upper Somercotes” the turnpike also by-passed the Rose & Crown. Despite this major change to the fortunes of the inn, it continued in business for many years.
One of the first mentions of the Rose & Crown in local newspapers is not until 1860, when, on 21 January that year it was reported in the Derbyshire Courier that the Licence was transferred from John Joseph Cammomile to William Smith, of Selston. Mr. Smith remained the landlord for several years. An article in the Ilkeston Pioneer, published on 9 August 1866 read: “On Wednesday August 1st, the eighteenth anniversary of the Alfreton Ironworks Lodge was celebrated at the house of Mr. Wm. Smith, Rose and Crown Inn, Somercotes, when upwards of sixty of the members sat down to an excellent dinner, which reflected great credit upon the host and hostess…” William Smith was still landlord in 1875, when a meeting of the Licenced Victuallers Association took place at the Rose & Crown.
Poster for an auction at the Rose & Crown Inn, September 1852
The Inn probably survived through the loyalty of its customers and its location close to the ironworks and collieries. Like many inns and beerhouses in the area however, reports of drunkenness and bad behaviour were regularly reported, and it even closed temporarily in 1875 [as reported in the Derby Mercury].
Over the long period of its life as an inn it is believed that several extensions were added so that additional accommodation could meet the needs of those seeking a room. Sometime in the very early 1800’s the original inn was extended to provide extra accommodation. This extension was built in brickwork, in contrast to the stone of the original building. A further extension was built later in the century to accommodate the influx of travellers and workers to the area. It is believed that the Rose & Crown had a good reputation for its hospitality.
As the main focus of the village shifted from Lower to Upper Somercotes and Leabrooks toward the mid to late 1800’s trade must have begun to suffer, and the Rose & Crown finally ceased trading around 1910. The Belper News, published on 4 June 1915 printed an article referring to the Riddings Floral Society, which stated that “… The six met in the taproom of a public house called the Rose and Crown, Lower Somercotes, which has longsince disappeared from the list of licenced houses in the Alfreton area. One of the founders [of the Riddings Floral Society] Mr Chester, lives on the site of this former public house."
Today, the Rose & Crown building is divided into four separate dwellings.
The Rose & Crown In was mentioned by name in several Trade Directories, as listed below:
1831 Pigot’s Directory. The landlord was William Castlied
1849 Pigot’s Directory. The landlady was Hannah Cartlidge
1857 Derbyshire Gazeteer. The landlord was Edward Andrews (who was also a bricklayer)
PHOTO: Buildings which incorporate part of the Rose & Crown Inn (2014)