Fittleworth Vat

The Swan Inn, Lower Street, Fittleworth.

Monsoon Oliver.

Fittleworth Vat 4

Photograph made available by Sussex On Line Parish Clerks.      

The Swan Inn possibly dates back to 1382. It was a coaching inn from 1536, providing a change of horses for the Royal Postal couriers running from London to the coast.

At the end of the 19th century the Swan gained a reputation as an artist’s inn, offering lodgings and fayre in return for an original painting, many of the surrounding valley. Many artists left paintings on the panelling of the lounge including George Cole, Rex Vicat Cole (who sub-let his nearby cottage Brinkwells to Edward Elgar in 1917), A.W. Weedon and Philip Stretton. One of the Visitors’ Books contains music and words to ‘A Song to the River’ by composer Sir Hubert Parry visiting for a boating trip. E.V. Lucas, Lamb’s biographer, thought it the most ingeniously-placed inn in the world.

The Swan Inn was the birthplace of The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers in 1924. A brown plaque commemorating the hotel as Bert Temple’s ‘Vat No.0’ is on the outside wall by the front door.