Category Archives: Olde Boar’s Head

New essay published on the C17 Wall paintings and Graffiti in the Old Boar’s

The age of the historic Olde Boar’s Head in Middleton had long been a subject of speculation when, in 2016, some early timbers were dated to 1622. However, one mystery remains: the origin and meaning of the rare set of wall paintings and graffiti in the OBH upper rooms.

This fascinating essay by MAS member Anne Falloon sets out to explore what was happening in Middleton in the first half of the 17th century and to consider the possible political motivation behind the paintings and graffiti.

Old Boar’s Head wall paintings and graffiti

New guide to the Old Boar’s Head published

Following tree ring dating of the pubs timbers and research into its tenants, a new historic guide has been published. Its available here Boar’s Head Guide 2017 or behind the bar.

Chair of the society, Cliff Ivers has written the 12 page leaflet with editing by Geoff Wellens. Cliff’s research has proved that the Boar’s has been operating as an inn or pub since 1623 making it the oldest original public house in England.

It also explains how the pub was built and includes a room by room guide to help you explore this fine iconic Middleton building.

The Edgar Wood and Middleton Townscape Heritage Initiative kindly paid for the publishing of the guide.

Graffiti survey arranged for 6th September 2016

The training session by NW Historic Graffiti has been arranged to start at 9.30 AM on Tuesday 6th September 2016 at St Leonard’s. It will be followed by surveys of the Old Boar’s Head and the Old Grammar School. Register by emailing or phone Cliff on 07740351814.


Middleton Graffiti Poster3

Medieval Graffiti project kicks off

Today, we welcomed Carolanne from North West Medieval Graffiti who took a tour of the cluster buildings and pointed out the many protection marks and symbols that have been carved or burned into our old buildings. The OBH has many taper burns around doors and windows to keep out evil spirits, as well as carpenters marks and 17th century signatures. The church has a number of protective symbols scratched onto doors and benches that were a pleasant surprise to Geoff. The old school has many initials carved into the brick and timbers, any idea who EW was?
Carolanne is coming back to Middleton in October and we plan to run a training day showing how to survey and record Middleton’s medieval vandals work. Everybody can join in, especially if you can take better photos than me! Watch this space for a date, Cliff

Artistic reconstruction of the Boar’s Head


This artistic reconstruction shows the Boar’s Head Inn as it was in the mid 17th century and was completed for MAS by local Middleton artist Steve Whitworth. The timber frame on the right was constructed in 1622 and research into probate inventories show it was operating as an Inn as early as 1623. The left hand building is dated as 1654 and was probably occupied by the Walkeden family.  At a later date, the left hand building was split into two, a door and another gable was added. By the early 19th century, the Inn was knocked through into one building and the sessions room was added.

There has been an Inn or Pub in continuous operation at this site for nearly 400 years, surely qualifying the establishment as the oldest pub in England?


MAS publish two investigation reports

MAS have completed two reports on their recent activities at Hopwood Millers Cottage 2015 and the pavement investigation at the Old Boar’s Head 2016.

Whilst we don’t expect them to make a best seller list any time soon, they are useful reference documents for people interested in Middleton’s past.

Hopwood Millers Cottage

Old Boar’s Head pavement

Our thanks go to Robert Huddart and Cliff Ivers for producing them.


MAS investigates the Olde Boar’s Head foundations

MAS members were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to excavate outside their headquarters last weekend. RBC are installing new pavements along Long Street as part of a Heritage Lottery improvement fund. Their contractors kindly let us dig several trenches along the pavement before the new slabs were laid.

We found the old cobbled pavement about 450mm below the current level, It looks as fine as it does on the 1870 photo.

IMG_2557MAS on the cobbles at the OBH 2015


We also confirmed that the pub was once two separate buildings. The recent tree ring dating survey confirmed the timbers between the right hand side of the front door and the sessions room were dated 1622 whilst those on the left up to Durnford Street were mostly 1654. The centre gable was probably a later addition to the building. The original sketch was done as part of a 1970’s survey by a Middleton buildings expert WJ Smith.

obd dates

When we examined the area under the door we noticed that the two sets of foundations stopped (indicated by the green pegs in the photo) the area in between was filled by soil and sand. This is the only part of the foundation that is missing and could suggest an early passageway between the two buildings.IMG_2583

The bricked up remains of two stone lintel and mullion windows identified in the foundations of the 1654 building prove it was built with a cellar. The cellar is accessed through a trap door in the pubs lounge and is optimistically referred to as the “dungeon”. Clearly there is no evidence of cellar windows in the early building. This suggest that the current beer cellar was a later addition to the 1622 building. There is a bricked up doorway above the left hand cellar window. The door appears on some early photographs and it clearly covers up the window light.


We hope to publish a full report on the weekends investigation later this year. Several members of the society are researching documentary evidence of the buildings owners and tenants which should help to interpret the physical evidence we have found.

The dig volunteers were Liz Fairweather, Cliff Ivers, Geoff Wellens, Robert Huddart, Robert Howarth and Martin Burroughs

If you would like to get involved in any of our investigations or historic research, please email

Final report on tree-ring dating the Old Boar’s Head

Nottingham tree-ring dating laboratories have just published a report on the date of timber frames in the Old Boar’s Head, Middleton. It appears that there are two houses dated 1622 and 1654 which were joined together  at a later date. The oldest building is on the right (North) whilst the later timber frame is on the left as far as Durnford Street. The brick built sessions room is believed to have been added in the early 19th century.

The survey was sponsored by Middleton Township Heritage Lottery Fund.

Details and a copy of the report are available on the Middleton Archaeological Society website

obd dates

Tree-ring dating the Olde Boar’s Head

Following the first phase of Tree-ring dating the timbers of our HQ, MAS members had a presentation from Dendrochronologist Robert Howard. He revealed that the timbers in the upstairs meeting room were mostly felled on a common date of 1622.
Further samples have been take and these should help to identify if all the bay’s of the building were assembled at the same time.
Further research has identified that the Boar’s Head was operating as an alehouse as early as 1640 possibly making it the oldest pub in Greater Manchester.
The Tree-ring dating has been funded by the Middleton Township Heritage Lottery Fund.


MAS to discover when the Olde Boar’s was built

MAS have obtained funding from the Middleton Township Heritage Initiative to have the timbers at the OBH dated. The building has always assumed to have been built in 1632 because of a carved lintel in the cellar. (unfortunately this is no longer visible). However there are no records of when the building was built. The society have been surveying the pub which consist of 5 square timber frame bays. The pub got its first license in 1725 and it is assumed that the building was originally 2 or more houses that were joined together. The sessions room and outbuildings are extensions to the original timber frame.

MAS will be working with dendrochronology experts from Nottingham Tree-ring Laboratory . They will obtain and analyse timber samples. Hopefully these will be matched with other dated samples to age the timber and get an estimate of when the various parts of the building were constructed.

The results of the work will be announced at the MAS monthly talk on the 28th January 2016.

Mas Jan 16 talk

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