The history of The Sun Hotel and Bar
The Inn, along with adjacent buildings on Church Street , was built on the site of Stoop Hall – a grand Medieval or Tudor Hall which appears on Speed’s map of 1610 as New Hall (no. 7). We know that there was a recorded license of Stoop Hall in 1680 and that the license was first transferred in 1684. In 1721 the hotel was first renamed to the Sun Inn on Stoop Hall probably named after the stables which occupied the rear of the buildings. The Sun & Rising Sun were popular inn names of the period, in honour of the king Charles II, after the harsh puritan rule of the reformation. The license change of 1721 was the last time the hotel would have Stoop Hall in its title. From the next license on it was always referred to as the Sun Inn and only in recent times (the last fifty years) has it been referred to as the Sun Hotel. The Sun Hotel and Bar has been used to reflect that it has a modern bar within. It also demonstrates the fact that we have rooms as opposed to other town hostelries which simply retain the name hotel without operating as one.
Thanks to window tax records we know that during the 1760s there were 70 windows. This is reflected in the fact that the 2nd floor front has been blocked out. The gable end 1st floor was blocked off only in modern times to house a bathroom. The Earl of Sefton sold the site in 1784 to the Carter brothers who developed the northern end of Sun Street at the same time. This was when the Sun Inn was halved in size to make way for Sun Street. The buildings towards the castle were also built around this period and this can be seen by their height and profile.
The Sun Inn on the corner of Sun Street and Church Street was popular throughout its history until maybe its more recent times. Here the sheriffs held 1 of 4 quarterly sessions entertaining dignitaries before the judges lodgings were bought. The Sun is the only venue still standing. The other venues were: the Kings arms, which stood on the site where Crows is now – it was relocated in 1845 to its current position, The Bear and Rugged Staff, currently Top Shop, And the Co-operation Arms on the White Cross, currently the Farmers Arms. Thomas Tyldersley, was made famous due to his diaries of 1712-14. They show a fascinating insight into that time. He wrote a financial diary, which helped him to account for his monies, as well as a day by day report on his adventures. It seems that when in Lancaster , he preferred to do business in the Kings Arms, yet celebrated in the Sun Inn. There are several accounts of him enjoying an ale or two, sometimes with young ladies who enjoyed drinking pints of wine with him (he preferred to leave their names blank),. It shows the two venues to be of worthy note as he did not stray from these Inns. A fine example of his life was when he met with 5 gentlemen from Preston , and took upon himself, with the help of the MP, to enjoy a 4 day drinkathon for no other reason than to show good hospitality. Unfortunately he died in 1714 and there his records end. They can be viewed in the records office of the local library.
The occupying Jacobean Army took the Sun Inn to house their Generals on their way to London in November 1745, and shortly after on their way back! Maybe we need a sign saying that Bonnie Prince Charlie drank “Near Here.” In the 18th century the Sun was an important meeting place for various organisations. The Port Commission met here during the years 1751-58 whilst they relocated from St Georges Quay to Glasson Dock. The Freemasons, Lancaster Agricultural Society and the Musical Society are all other historically important organisations of note who used this venue. Turner stayed here in 1812 whilst drawing his sketches of Heysham. It was thanks to his depiction of the treacherous bay crossing that we discovered we have a sister pub, the Kings Arms in Ulverston, which was also owned by the coach company that operated a service over the bay between Lancaster and Ulverston.
Church Street was known as St. Marygate in the middle ages. Today St. Marygate refers only to the lane on the western side of China Street, leading to the Priory. Church Street was used as an open market on Lancaster fair days (3 April, 1 May, 5 July and 10 Oct). The potato market moved to Assembly Room Square in 1802. There are several Georgian buildings at the west end of Church Street. Roman Church Street had long, rectangular buildings with their gable ends facing on to the street with possibly a shop on the street frontage. You can read more about some of the archaeological investigations on Church Street in a Contrebis article by Ian Miller. The cross is shown on Speed’s map of 1610. The building on the site of the Judges Lodgings (no. 6) is referred to as Old Hall.