At this seasonal time, for some odd reason I think about the Blue Boar.

It could be to do with happy memories of family seasonal drinks and meals there, of historic images of its snow-covered coaching heritage and of the traditional (former Boxing Day) meet.

Standing in a prominent position in Silver Street, at the head of High Street, it is one of Maldon’s most iconic buildings.

Ask someone to describe the best historic features of our town and, as well as the Hythe with its barges, St Mary’s Church, the Plume Library/Maeldune centre, the Moot Hall, and All Saints' Church, the Blue Boar is very likely to feature.

After all this impressive, porticoed, timber-framed building has been somewhere to enjoy a good pint of ale for more than 450 years.

In fact the place is even older than that, as it started life as a private house and dates back to the 14th Century (or at least the part that is now the Harness Bar and Oak Room do).

When it was new it was known as ‘Crosse’s Great Tenement’ after original owner Henry Crosse.

During the 1530s the tenement was purchased by John Church (c.1507-1559). He was a Catholic adherent of the old faith, a Freeman, lawyer, landowner, bailiff to Beeleigh Abbey and, most importantly, agent of the estates (the Manor of Earls, Maldon) and gentleman servant to the Earls of Oxford, the powerful de Vere family.

Church was of sufficient rank to be awarded the de Vere livery badge of the Blue Boar, with golden hoof, tusks and bristles.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: The rear of Maldon's Blue Boar innThe rear of Maldon's Blue Boar inn (Image: permission Kevin Fuller)

As well as displaying the badge on his chain of office, between 1537 and 1540, he extended Crosse’s Great Tenement forward and sideways, to make it more suitable for his use and re-named it the Blue Boar, as a gesture of respect to his employer.

Church’s ‘Blue Boar’ wouldn’t become an inn until after his death in 1559, but the name carried on.

The market place hostelry first appears in the archives in 1572, when the landlord was a Yorkshireman called Thomas Furnes.

It quickly became a place of business and feasting and grew in popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: An advert from Elizabeth Hickford’s timeAn advert from Elizabeth Hickford’s time (Image: Stephen Nunn)

Landlords at that time included Thomas Horsenayle (1688), Mary Backhouse (1708), Robert Baxter (1755), and the May family – William Senior (1757) and William Junior (1797).

Auctions and a wide range of meetings were held in the building in the 18th and into the 19th Century and it became a coaching stop, as well as a venue for the barbaric 'sport' of cock fighting.

From 1740 it also had its own Billiard Hall and this would continue well into the 20th Century.

Hannah May was the landlady in 1802 and her maiden name was Shynn. The Shynns would take over after her time – James Shynn in 1818, Mary (1832) and another James (1845).

The now familiar yellow brick frontage and portico were added in 1810, when Maldon saw an uplift in its fortunes with the restoration of its charter (the Moot Hall portico was added at the same time).

With the coming of Maldon’s railway in 1848, business was booming and the Blue Boar became a hotel, offering good rooms and a horse drawn taxi transfer to and from East Station. Some of the rooms also served as a meeting place for local Masonic lodges.

In those days the landlords were the Bentalls (1852) and then the Hickfords – William Senior (1855), William Junior (1870) and Elizabeth Sarah Hickford (1878).

Into the 20th Century. Bert Cook was 'mine host' in 1908 and, during the Great War, Philip Martinengo.

Many of us remember the 'good old days' when the Blue Boar was a Trust House.

They took it on in 1925 and it was still in their ownership when I learnt to drink there in the 1970s and when you couldn’t enter the front bar without wearing a tie!

It was sold by Trust House, was for a time with Greene King and then acquired by John Wilsdon in 2002.

Fast forward to 2023 and it is now owned by James Sinclair. He is the latest custodian of this special building which has seen so much activity down the centuries.

And, as we arrive in 2024, it has a positive future as a continuing place of hospitality which has its roots in the 1300s, but is still alive and kicking all these years later I think I will be calling in there for a pint or two in the New Year!

Happy New Year to all of you.