During the early years of the Victorian period, Wellington began to enjoy the first flushes of the commercial success that helped the town to flourish in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. It may have been as a consequence of this development that a group of houses and business premises in Church Street were converted into the Charlton Arms Hotel.
The Charlton Arms Hotel
The Charlton Family
In 1840, several private dwellings, a small school and a malthouse occupied this part of Church Street, while much of the property in the surrounding area was owned by St John Chiverton Charlton, the wealthy local landowner from whose family the hotel takes its name. The Charltons themselves resided at Apley Castle, a former country estate to the north of Wellington, part of which is today the site of the Princess Royal Hospital. As a major route into the town from this direction, Church Street would certainly have been an ideal location from which to take advantage of Wellington’s improving economic fortunes and, sometime before 1850, these buildings were converted into a hotel and Inland Revenue Office.
Whether Bowling or Hiring a Fly' Trap
The Charlton Arms quickly established a reputation as a leading venue for a wide array of events during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century and offered many additional services to the local community during the period. Until at least 1894, it served as a posting house for the town’s mail, while public auctions were also held here, many of which were handled by John Barber, who conducted some of the larger sales in a Pelham’ Tent behind the building itself, on what is now the car park. Part of this area eventually became the site of a Bowling Green, which was opened in June 1860 and is one of only a few examples of new leisure facilities being introduced into the town during the Victorian period. There were also stabling facilities situated in the yard, not only for the hotel’s residents but for the fly’ traps that could be hired at the hotel from at least 1861 onwards. As a form of long distance travel, coaching had been decimated by the arrival of the railways by this time, but flys (a one horse hackney carriage that was essentially the Victorian equivalent of a modern day taxi) still provided a useful service for short journeys in and around the town. Although many of these original features no longer exist, the main premises are listed as a building of historic interest (despite the hotel closing for business around 2007).