Originally built around 1700, the Three Crowns has been a pub since the early 18th Century (the cider/snug bar), with a Regency extension added c.1820 (the main bar).
The history of the pub is currently being researched and the findings will be published here.
Local historian/genealogist Jan Harvey has unearthed the first tranche of historical information, using local resources such as the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Here are samples of press coverage over the centuries:
Advertisement, Wiltshire Gazette, 2 May, 1844“Thomas Bendry respectfully announces to the inhabitants of CHIPPENHAM and its neighbourhood, that he has commenced business at a COACH BUILDER in all its departments, on the premises adjoining the Three Crowns Inn, and trusts that prompt attention to all orders, unvarying punctuality, and moderate charges, will secure him a share of public patronage. Carriages and gigs taken in exchange. Repairs neatly executed on the shortest notice. April 8, 1844"
Auction Notice, Devizes & Wiltshire Gazette, 18 November, 1869 “To Innkeepers, Brewers and Others: Messuage or Dwelling-house known as the “Three Crowns Inn”...To be SOLD by AUCTION...on the 23rd November, 1869 at three o'clock for four precisely in the afternoon. Lot 1 – All that old-established and largely-frequented INN, called “THE THREE CROWNS”, containing Bar, Tap room, Two Parlours (divided by moveable partition, 30 feet long), Sitting-room, 5 bedrooms, and 4 good Attics, Brewery, and Cellars, Garden, Out-building, range of Stabling, and Coach-house...”
News, Wiltshire Independent, 24 September, 1874 “ACCIDENT. - Mr. Tucker, of Calne, sustained a serious accident in this town on Thursday last. As he was driving near the Three Crowns Inn the wheel of the gig got into an opening in the road, which was made for the purpose of laying a water-pipe, and caused Mr. Tucker to fall over the wheel headforward on the pavement. He was taken into the Three Crowns Inn, and Dr. Farrage attended him until the following morning, when he was sufficiently recovered as to be able to be removed to his house at Calne. We have since heard that, in addition to concussion of the brain, Mr. Tucker sustained a fracture of the collar-bone, and also of several ribs, and that he is in a precarious state.”
Devizes & Wiltshire Gazette, 5 July, 1883 Sudden Death of Mrs. Clarke of the “Three Crowns”. - "Much regret was expressed by many of the inhabitants of this town on Tuesday, when it became known that Mrs. Clarke has expired, after a very short illness. Although scarcely in the prime of life, Mrs. Clarke has perhaps been in the public business for a much longer period than any other landlady in the town, and her very amiable and obliging manners had won her many friends...The death...was caused by the rupture of a blood vessel brought on by a fall, she having hitched her foot in the skirt of her dress...At the time she took little notice of it but afterwards complained of violent pains in her head, then fell into a state of insensibility, from which she never rallied....”
Wiltshire Times, 9 February 1907 “Mr. Crofts called (the committee's) attention to the dark state of the path leading from the Three Crowns to Wood Lane, and added that persons were continually coming into collision there, which aroused their tempers and led them to use language not of the choicest.”
The Three Crowns is situated on The Cause (in ancient times a causeway to the east of the town). It was routed through a forest and through swampy land around Pewe. It was a creation of paramount necessity to enable produce to be taken to Chippenham Market; is as old as Chippenham itself; and was made and repaired by the Borough. (Daniell, Revd. J.J. (1894) 'The History of Chippenham London: Houlston & Sons 272.120-121. University of Toronto, accessed: 01/08/2017)
In the same source as that above, there is a description of an intriguing event, only some 4 decades after the supposed date of the Three Crowns having been built. Daniell relates it, thus:
"In 1741 Sir Robert Walpole had raised against his Ministry a powerful phalanx of noblemen and gentlemen, called the Country Party.
The Hanoverian and Jacobite factions then shook Great Britain from sea to sea, and every little village was convulsed with political strife. There was a contested election in Chippenham; the Government candidates (supporting Sir Robert Walpole), were Alexander Hume and John Frederick. Those of the Country Party were Sir Edmund Thomas and Edward Baynton Rolt. Anthony Guy, the oldest of the Burgesses of the town, was then High Sheriff, and exercised weighty influence; he supported the Government. The partisans of Thomas and Rolt conceived and executed a daring scheme for getting Guy out of the way. The Under-Sheriff, through illness, had neglected to make return of a writ, and under pretence of an attachment, they arrested the Sheriff himself, and kept him in custody at one of the Inns in Chippenham all night, though he offered 10,000 bail for his release. Next morning, at the instigation of John Norris, Adam Tuck of Langley Burrell, (who built and lived in the present Rectory House) and with the connivance of "William Johnson, the Bailiff, they hurried him off to Devizes, where they held guard over him till the Chippenham election was over. The election was won by the Country Party by a majority of one vote only." (ibid. 72-73)
Could that 'Inn in Chippenham' have been the Three Crowns? Probably not, but it's fun to speculate!