The 18th century journalist and novelist Daniel Defoe described Great Yarmouth as having “the finest key (quay) in England, if not Europe.” The author of Robinson Crusoe said:
“In this pleasant and agreeable range of houses are some very magnificent buildings, and among the rest, the custom-house and town-hall, and some merchants houses, which look like little palaces, rather than the dwelling-houses of private men.”
The fascinating story of the Star Hotel predates the current Grade II listed building, a flint-faced merchant’s house constructed in 1764. It sits next door to the site of the original Star, which was built as a house in the 1500s by wealthy merchant and town bailiff William Crowe, a member of the influential trading company, the Merchants Adventurers of England.
The house was owned by several merchants before it became the Star Tavern in the late 18th century.
Lord Nelson stayed at the Star a number of times, including on a visit to Great Yarmouth in 1800 after the Battle of the Nile when he received freedom of the town. Oak panelling from the room reserved for him can today be found in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
From 1819, the Telegraph Coach and the New Royal Mail Coach left for London every day at 2pm from outside the Star Tavern. By 1845, the Birmingham Mail was leaving the Star at 4.40pm to travel to Leicester.
The Star Tavern had become the Star Hotel in 1930 and was subsequently sold to be demolished and make way for an extension to the telephone exchange. The licence was transferred to the adjoining property, the current Star Hotel.
When it was sold in 1949 it was described as “the best known licensed house in Great Yarmouth, associated with much of the public life of the town owing to its pleasant and central position.”