• Lunch stop on a 1911 international motorcar rally

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Formerly one of the north’s most important coaching inns

Located in the centre of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, the main part of The Golden Fleece Hotel retains structures dating from the 1500s, including a large, oak-beamed, inglenook fireplace. It is thought to have originated as a private house. It came to prominence as an inn in 1810 when new owners George and Mary Blythe established it as one of the north’s most important coaching inns.

By 1823 it was serving five coach services, mostly running up and down the nearby Great North Road and linking destinations as far apart as London and Edinburgh. The bustling inn received coaches around the clock, and had stabling for 60 horses. After the arrival of the railway in Thirsk in 1841, The Golden Fleece continued to thrive under the control of George Blythe’s great nephew, William Hall. He made it the leading venue for the townsfolk and the preferred hotel for tourists visiting the historic and scenic delights of the local countryside.

In the time of William Hall’s son, William Welbank Hall, the fourth generation of the family to run the inn, it provided a grand lunch in 1911 for an eclectic mix of some of Europe’s richest and most famous people. They were competing in a stage of one of the world’s first international motorcar rallies, and among them were Prince Henry of Prussia and Arthur Conan Doyle, the world-famous author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. William Welbank Hall sold up in 1918, bringing to an end 108 years of his family’s control of The Golden Fleece.

Under new owners in the 1920s and 30s it continued to attract visits by early motorists, who found the stables converted to garages; two of them with pits for mechanics to do running repairs on their cars. The hotel was acquired by The Coaching Inn Group in 2015, and has since undergone a major refurbishment to meet the needs of today’s market while respecting and retaining many features of its fascinating heritage.

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