The first historical records of this former coaching inn, in antiquity known as ‘The Swan’, shows Thomas Lilevale as innkeeper, it was included in the 1815 list of pubs which undertook to keep good order.
The inn is mentioned again in 1842, this time as the White Swan, when two barristers, appointed to revise the List of Voters in the election of a Knight of the Shire, met there for the Hundred of Painscastle. In the 1851 census the inn, now called the Baskerville Arms, was run by Peter Chaloner, aged 56, also described as a farmer of 126 acres. He lived there with his wife, Arabella, and two grown up children together with a land surveyor and two house servants.
However, in Kilvert’s Diary, the inn was still called The Swan. He noted in 1870:
“A wild rainy night. They are holding the Clyro Feast Ball at the Swan opposite. As I write I hear the scraping and squealing of the fiddle and the ceaseless heavy tramp of the dancers as they stamp the floor in a country dance”
He also wrote of people:
“swarming round the door and steps of the Swan laughing, talking loud, swearing and quarreling in the quiet moonlight and laying by the roadside at night, drunk, cursing, muttering, maundering, and vomiting”
In short, he witnessed the World and the Flesh reeling about arm in arm. The Landlord at that time was probably William Price, who was certainly there in 1864. Magistrate’s courts were held in the dining room at that time. Then, according to the hotels Spirit Stock Book, John Evans was in charge from 1882 to 1891, followed by Sarah Evans, presumably his widow, until 1907, and Margaret Evans was at the helm from 1907 to 1935. In 1940 a half year’s rent was £23 10s, but in 1946 the Baskerville Estate was put up for sale and the hotel was bought by Harold Rowson, who stayed there until 1957. It was then bought by Roy Corner, who 10 years later sold it on to Stanley Smith for £10,250.