The Old George Mall is Salisbury’s main pedestrian shopping precinct, right in the centre of the City.

History of the Old George Inn

Old George Mall Salisbury

Old George Mall Salisbury

The Old George Mall is named after the Old George Inn, which stood, and, in part, still stands, at the Western end of the Mall, on the Salisbury’s High Street.

The Inn dates back until at least 1364 [1], when it was owned by the Teynturer family. The naming of the Inn may have been connected with the Guild of Saint George – William Teynturer (the younger) left property in his will to the Guild in 1376. [2]

Between 1590 and 1624 a Free School was run in one of the Inn’s rooms. Subsequent to that, it was ordered that plays should only be performed in the Old George Inn ‘the size and form of the inner courtyard being well adapted for that purpose’[3]

The building may have been a private house at some stage around 1769 [4]

Famous Visitors to the Old George Inn

Shakespeare, Cromwell and Pepys are believed to have visited or stayed in the Inn when they were in Salisbury. [5] Pepys, famously, enjoyed a ‘silke bed’ and ‘good diet’, but found the bill so high that it made him ‘mad’.

The Old George Inn features in H.G. Wells ‘The Secret Places of the Heart’. He alludes to ‘the mediaeval modernity of the Old George smoking-room.’, and then, later, writes

The conversation drifted from topic to topic. It had none of the steady continuity of Sir Richmond’s duologue with Miss Grammont. Miss Seyffert’s methods were too discursive and exclamatory. She broke every thread that appeared. The Old George at Salisbury is really old; it shows it, and Miss Seyffert laced the entire evening with her recognition of the fact. “Just look at that old beam!” she would cry suddenly. ” To think it was exactly where it is before there was a Cabot in America!” [6]

Buddy Holly at the Old George Hotel

More impressive than Wells, Pepys, Cromwell or even Shakespeare, at least to people of a certain age and inclination (i.e. me!) was a more recent visitor – Buddy Holly.

Buddy Holly and the Crickets came to play in what was then the Salisbury Gaumount (now the Odeon cinema) on the 22nd March 1958 [7].

He was top of a bill that also featured The Tanner Sisters and Des O’Connor, and they played three shows in the one day. [8]

Buddy, the Crickets (Joe Mauldin and Jerry Allison), their manager Norman Petty and road manager Wally Stewart all stayed at the Old George Hotel, as the Old George Inn was now known.

Buddy wrote a letter from the Old George Hotel to his parents who were back in Lubbock, Texas saying

Norman and Jerry are sitting over by the fireplace (this is a real old, quaint place) talking about dreams [9].

The letter is now in the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona [10]. He reportedly wrote the letter with a pen bought in Woolworths [11], but what happened to the pen is unknown!

The three web pages in the references are all worth visiting if you’re interested in this, but I would particularly recommend the BBC Wiltshire page on “Buddy at the Gaumont”. It has a lot more detail, and a nice photograph of Buddy and the Crickets having tea in the Old George Hotel.

The Old George Mall and the Old George Inn

The remaining part of the Old George Inn is one of the 300 or so Grade 1 listed buildings in Wiltshire [12]

The Old George Mall was built in 1965, and extensively refurbished in the mid-1990s. It’s an open air shopping mall, although a glass ‘shelf’ running along each side of the mall gives visitors some protection from the rain.



Going shopping in Salisbury?

For accommodation, see the Hotels in Salisbury page.



Footnotes

  1. BBC – Wiltshire Days Out – The Old George Inn open to the public []
  2. Salisbury – St Thomas’s parish | British History Online []
  3. Salisbury – St Thomas’s parish | British History Online []
  4. Full text of “Old inns” []
  5. BBC – Wiltshire Days Out – The Old George Inn open to the public []
  6. The Secret Places of the Heart : Chapter 6. The Encounter at Stonehenge by H.G. Wells @ Classic Reader []
  7. BBC – Wiltshire – History – Salisbury gig history []
  8. BBC – Wiltshire – History – Buddy at the Gaumont []
  9. BBC – Wiltshire – History – Buddy at the Gaumont
    > []
  10. Facts and Figures for 1958 By Terry Shaw []
  11. See BBC – Wiltshire – History – Buddy at the Gaumont – sadly the Salisbury Woolworths is now defunct, a victim of the “credit crunch” []
  12. Wikipedia list []

5 Comments for this entry

  • Jo Bradbury says:

    Hello – bit of a long shot but am doing some family research and an great great Aunt of mine was a bookeeper at an “Old George Hotel” in Salisbury around 1914.

    Could this be the same hotel and if would anyone happen to know if their are any records in existence?

    Many thanks, Jo

  • Jo Bradbury says:

    Oh and excuse my typos! Excited typing.

    there obviously

  • angus hart says:

    my wife’s great aunt was the owner of the old George hotel until the sixty. we have no idea when they bought the hotel. her surname was Holland-young. we have some photos of them and the hotel pets a dog a cat and a tortoise. we know her as aunt Dot.

  • Kim says:

    I have been handed down an antique bellows (in good condition), with the words Old George Inn, Salisbury and the inns frontage beautifully engraved in it. it is clearly old and have no idea how old it is, but a good few 100 years I rec. who would collect such a thing? all advise welcome, thx

  • Derek & Evelyn Moore says:

    We have an old print of the interior of The Old George Inn, Salisbury by Cecil Aldin showing an inside beamed room which includes a fireplace,, furnishing, a lady in Elizabethan clothes and two King Charles spaniels (back view), the picture has very slight colouring,should anyone be interested contact our e-mail address.

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