The Farnborough Explorer
Interesting Things Around Farnborough

The Crown & Cushion

The Crown and Cushion, MinleyThe Crown & Cushion is reputedly haunted by the Mistress of 'Colonel Blood'

Colonel Blood was born in Ireland around 1618, the son of Edmund Blood of Kilnaboy Castle, County Clare. He came to England at the time of the Civil War and enlisted first with the Royalists, and then when the Parliamentarians seemed too be winning, with them. After the war, Cromwell gave him a large estate and made him Justice of the Peace. He married a Lancashire heiress and settled down.

When Charles II came to the throne in 1660, he confiscated Blood's land and Blood made a hasty retreat to Ireland, vowing revenge. In Ireland, he became a cattle rustler and highwayman, then during England's war with the Dutch, Blood returned and managed to achieve a position of status, though it is suspected that he was actually spying for Holland. Blood survived the war, the plague and the Great fire of London. After the great fire, it appears he left London and is not heard of again until 1670, when he reappears in Romford using the alias of Ayloffe and posing as a physician to hide his true profession of Highwayman. After a failed robbery attempt on an old nemesis, he was forced to move again and by 1671 was living at Minley Warren, where he began plotting his revenge on  Charles II.

Posing as a clergyman and accompanied by his mistress from Minley, who was pretending to be his wife, he visited the Tower of London to view the Crown Jewels. While viewing them, Blood's "wife" feigned a stomach complaint and the wife of the keeper of the Crown Jewels (Mrs Edwards) invited them upstairs to their apartment to recover, after which Blood and his wife thanked the Edwardses and left. Over the next few days, Blood, his wife and his two "sons" (rogues recruited from the London criminal fraternity) visited the the Edwards family several times and cultivated a friendship.with them. One of the sons began to court Mr & Mrs Edwards daughter. In truth it was a ruse while he was acting as lookout.

On the 9th May 1671, Blood and his two 'sons' visited the keeper while Blood's 'wife' was indisposed (in fact she had returned to her cottage in Minley to prepare for their get-away). While waiting for Mrs Edwards to finish cooking a meal she had prepared for them, Blood convinced Mr Edwards to show his two sons the Crown Jewels. Upon entering the chamber, a sack was drawn over Mr Edwards and he was hit over the head with a mallet, the gang stole the jewels and escaped. To this day, Colonel Blood is the only person to have ever managed to remove the Jewels from the Tower, but he was caught before he was able to leave the grounds.

Blood's mistress waited patiently in her cottage on the Minley/Cove Road getting ever more anxious as the hours ticked past the time the gang was supposed to arrive, until the following day, when a fellow conspirator arrived and told her of Blood's capture. Certain that Blood would be executed and that the militia would be coming for her, she drowned herself in nearby Hawley Lake.

In actual fact, Blood was brought before Charles II and the king let him off, watch this to get an idea why. The King, who probably realised that he had started everything in the first place by confiscating Blood's original estates, gave him a new estate in Ireland worth £500 per annum. Had Blood's mistress waited a little, she might have profited more by it.

Colonel Blood remained a resident of Minley and also kept a house in London at Bowling Alley, Westminster, for when he was attending court (he became one of the king's favourites). Colonel Blood is reputed to have been the person who converted his mistresses cottage into the Crown and Cushion Inn in about 1675.

In 1679, he had a row with the Duke of Buckingham and was arrested at the Crown and Cushion. He was taken to London and imprisoned until being brought before the King's Bench for defamation. He was found guilty and ordered to pay the duke £10,000. Blood never paid the fine, he was released from prison in July 1680 and died at his London home in August of the same year.

The 'Crown' part of the inn's name is an obvious reference to the Crown Jewels, the Cushion reputedly comes from the name of Blood's mistress, Emily Cussens, the surname of whom derives from the French 'Coussin' or Cushion.

Emily's ghost is reputed to be frequently seen striding backwards and forwards outside of the pub (see view above) wringing her hands while she waits for her lover.