Dating back to the 13th century, this charming Grade II listed inn epitomises the traditional values of a great pub, with interesting locally brewed ales – some even brewed in the pub’s own microbrewery, ciders, gins and delicious home cooked food, all served with a welcome smile and friendly chat.
New and old in perfect harmony
A sensitive and tasteful refurbishment in 2013 has brought the pub bang up to date, while bringing out the best in the building’s history and character.
With several different areas to tempt you, open fires, comfortable seating and a varied menu of seasonally inspired dishes, it’s the perfect place to meet friends, enjoy a meal, or just mingle with the locals at the bar over a goodly ale or two. There’s even a menu of gins and bottled beers.
An ancient pub
Early 13th century – We’re not sure exactly how old The John O’Gaunt Inn is, but it’s likely that there has been a building on this site since the reign of Henry III.
1617 – A property on this spot was acquired by the Town & Manor Feeoffment (Trustees), following the grant of the Manor in 1612 by James I.
18th century – At some point, most likely during the 18th century, the building and that of the house to the right when looking at the pub, were rebuilt – both are clearly by the same designer and craftsmen. The building was later part of the Priory of St John.
1764 – The building becomes the first workhouse in Hungerford.
1782 – The increasing number of paupers means a larger workhouse is needed, and the residents move to High House (now Charnham Close).
1783 – It’s likely that shortly after this time, the property became an inn.
1812 – Listed in the Trustee Minute Books as the ‘John of Gaunt’.
1826 – The name appears as the ‘John O’Gaunt’.
1864 – The name has been changed to the ‘Duke of Lancaster Arms’.
1900 – The name is back to the ‘John O’Gaunt’.
2013 – The John O’Gaunt Inn reopens after a full structural refurbishment.
What’s in a name?
The John O’Gaunt appears to have had several names over the years.
In 1812 it’s listed in the Trustee Minute Books as the ‘John of Gaunt’, and in 1826 as the ‘John O’Gaunt’. In 1841 it then appears as the ‘Lancaster Arms’ and briefly in 1864 as the ‘Duke of Lancaster Arms’, returning to the ‘John O’Gaunt’ in 1900.
We don’t know why the name was changed, but interestingly, all of the names refer to the same person, John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of the Plantagenet King Edward III.
From his marriage to Blanche of Lancaster, John of Gaunt became the richest man in England, being the owner of massive inherited estates including that of Hungerford. He also exercised great influence over the throne during the minority of his nephew, later King Richard II, with his own son becoming the future King Henry IV.
John of Gaunt’s father, King Edward III, is believed to have granted a charter giving the grazing, fishing and hunting rights to the householders of the main street of Hungerford, and his own coat of arms contains the three lions of England and fleur de lys of France, visible on the Inn’s sign today.
The John O’Gaunt Inn, or the ‘Johnny’ as it’s affectionately known locally, is under the ownership of the Town & Manor, and is let to The INNformal Pub Company, owned and run by Mark Genders FBII. For more information, and the latest menus, please see the John O’Gaunt’s website.
Curious to find out more?
Hungerford Virtual Museum – John O’Gaunt Inn