HISTORY OF THE BLACK BOYS HOTEL
The Black Boys Hotel presides over the bustling Market Place of Aylsham and is a Grade 2 listed building in recognition of its rich history.
It can be traced back as far as 1471 when it was described as a messuage and cottage called the stonenhus. In the early 1650s it is claimed that a Richard Andrews developed the premises as an inn. He died following a fight with one of Oliver Cromwell's men who was billeted there. Legend has it that he was buried in the grounds and his ghost has been seen on the premises.
18th & 19th Century.
Over the years many famous people are recorded as having enjoyed the hospitality of the Black Boys including Daniel Defoe, Horatio Nelson and Princess Victoria. The hotel features prominently in local history. In 1786 The Aylsham Association was founded and met there. In the 1800s it was used as a Magistrates Court and in 1814 a ball was held there to celebrate peace after the Napleonic Wars.
Stabling at the rear of the Hotel was used for changing horses when travel was predominately by mail coaches. A major redevelopment of the premises took place in 1844 when it was bought by a James Spanton who sold off the entire contents at the local auction rooms. In addition to furniture and sundries - a post chaise, post chariot, a gig and six horses were included in the sale.
There are a couple of theories as to how the hotel acquired its name. Firstly it is suggested that it was named after King Charles II who was nicknamed The Black Boy
because he had black hair and a swarthy complexion. Secondly, it may have a connection with the black boy slaves who were used as servants in local wealthy households in the 17th century.
In 1815 John Crome, of the Norwich School of Painters, was commissioned to paint a sign for the inn which he based on a portrait of the King.