History of The Three Horseshoes, Spellbrook and Bishop’s Stortford

The Three Horseshoes is a picturesque thatched-roof country pub and former coaching inn on the old London turnpike road. The ancient timber-framed thatched building facing the road is Grade II listed and dates back at least to the 16th century – despite its fairytale cottage appearance, it is thought to have been a Tudor farmhouse originally.

The Stort Valley has been settled since prehistoric times. Several primitive flint tools have been discovered in the area, and woolly mammoth remains were uncovered in the centre of Bishop’s Stortford in 1900, but the most visible testament to ancient occupation is Iron Age Wallbury hill fort, across the river from The Three Horseshoes.

This historic inn has prospered for centuries at a strategic location on the road from London to Cambridge and East Anglia, benefiting from the river crossing at nearby Bishop’s Stortford. The 18th century saw the growth of the coaching industry and the establishment of the Hockerill Turnpike Trust, charged with improving the road for coaches and wagons. Inns such as The Three Horseshoes flourished as a result.

At this time the most important industry in Bishop’s Stortford was the production of malt for London brewers from the productive cereal fields of Hertfordshire. The need for faster, cheaper routes to the London markets led to the development of the 12-mile-long River Stort Navigation, which opened in 1769. 70 foot barges pulled by horses transported vast quantities of malt through 15 locks into the River Lee and finally the Regent’s Canal.

The Spellbrook Lock still operates today close to The Three Horseshoes, and the River Stort Navigation makes an attractive walk through a number of notable wetland nature reserves including Sawbridgeworth Marsh, on the edge of the historic village of Sawbridgeworth with its attractive timber-framed Tudor and Stuart buildings.

Celebrated English sculptor Henry Moore lived locally for 40 years, and his former home, Hoglands, at nearby Perry Green houses the world’s largest collection of his work, the scenic Hertfordshire countryside the perfect setting for his monumental sculptures.

Whatever the reason for a visit, The Three Horseshoes pub restaurant is an ideal place to savour a delicious pub lunch or one of the seasonal specials with family and friends in the Stort Valley at the heart of the Hertfordshire countryside. Relaxing Sunday lunches and a fine selection of wines and cask ales, together with a welcoming ambience are always on offer.

Directions to The Three Horseshoes

You can find The Three Horseshoes on Spellbrook Lane East, just off the A1184 and 3.7 miles from Bishops Stortford Golf Club. Simply key CM22 7SE into your satnav.