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The Spread Eagle

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The Spread Eagle is substantially a 16th-century timber-framed building with many later alterations. The plaque with the date AD 1300 was added in the 1920s and probably refers to an earlier building on this site, certainly not the present one. Most of the front decoration and windows are 19th-century. Its right-hand gable over a shop front is in the Dutch style and carries an eagle (without wings spread) on top.

 

During the 18th and the early 19th centuries The Spread Eagle was a prominent coaching inn and still has its high coach entrance. The inn was reputedly involved in smuggling. Contraband from the old port of Maldon, eight miles away, was brought here. It has a false chimney and other hiding places, where goods could be hidden from the excise men.

 

The three-storey Regency house on the left was originally a private dwelling, but was incorporated into the inn after the Second World War. From the mid-nineteenth century until the post-war years the shop on the right was a pork butchers and greengrocers. After the war it was Lord Rayleigh's Dairies for ten years or so, and then a wine market, before becoming a Sue Ryder charity shop in the 1980s.The charity shop closed in 2009 and soon after a beauty salon called “Yaxley Hair and Beauty” opened here.

 

In 2008 the Spread Eagle was re-named 'Elements' and soon afterwards the central restaurant was separated and became Manni’s, then Mezzo, followed by Foody Food and then Tapestry, but is now occupied by Coles restaurant. The pub has now returned to its original name The Spread Eagle.

 

The postcard view below shows the Spread Eagle in the early 20th century.

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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