According to deeds in the local museum, the property was listed as The Blue Boar in the years 1789, 1799 and 1803, but by its sale in 1819, it was referred to as The Marlborough Arms Hotel. As yet, it is unclear as to exactly when and why the name change occurred. One theory is that it followed the succession of the 5th Duke of Marlborough, George Spencer, who on 26th May 1817 legally changed his name to George Spencer-Churchill to include the illustrious name of his ancestor John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and hero of the Battle of Blenheim.
THE BLUE BOAR
The Blue Boar is taken from the crest of the De Vere family, who were Earls of Oxford. It was the XIII Earl of Oxford, John De Vere, who led Henry Tudor’s vanguard at the Battle of Bosworth. (The White Boar similarly refers to Richard III). It is thought that after the defeat of Richard and the Yorkists at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, many white boar signs were hastily painted blue, to show the Landlord’s loyalty to the Lancastrian cause.
The Marlborough had a reputation throughout history as being a popular meeting place for local gentry. Located in the centre of the town, it soon became one of the principal coaching inns in Witney. At the height of the coaching era in 1823, it is reported that an up mail coach left every day at 9:30am sharp, while a down coach passed through at 4:30pm en route for Cheltenham. Following the creation of the Witney Railway Company in 1858 and the subsequent loss in popularity of the stagecoach, The Marlborough continued to be a principal town venue. Indeed, it is reported that the directors of the newly formed railway company continued to frequent The Marlborough, by using it for all their meetings.
It was initially erected as a double story stone dwelling, quadrangular in shape with extensive stabling at the rear. It’s unclear as yet when the second floor was added or when its footprint was reduced, but according to a map dated 1876, the archway leading to Marlborough Lane (formerly Meeting House Lane) had already disappeared. Its later appearance has been recorded as being very striking; a three-storey building, painted white with a prominent coat of arms on the frontage.
The Marlborough was acquired by William Clinch on 7th August 1878. The Clinches were bankers and brewers who in the late 1830s demolished many old cottages in the area to the west of Church Green to make room for the “Eagle Brewery”. Brewing ceased in 1963, when Clinch & Co were taken over by the Courage combine. The Eagle Brewery was used as a Courage distribution depot until it finally closed in 1978. A micro–brewery, known as “The Wychwood Brewery” is now firmly established in the Eagle Maltings at the western end of the former Clinch site and well known for its production of real ale.
On 31st December 1903, The Marlborough was sold by an Alexander William Hall to Halls Oxford Brewery Ltd but by the 1911 Census, The Marlborough, was owned by a Mr. William Blunt and Family.
The Marlborough was recently acquired by Oakman Inns & Restaurants and following an extensive restoration programme re-opened as The Blue Boar in early December 2011.