“I have been here, in my present form, since the early 16th century. I was here before that, in a different incarnation, when the abbot commissioned an inn and brewery between 1420 and 1440. I am connected to two stories; one of which is true, the other false. Can you guess which is which?
My first story concerns King John of France who was imprisoned here after the battle of Poitiers in 1356. True or False?
False! I wasn’t even an inn in 1356 and not smart enough for a King…
My second story is about Thomas Dimsdale who was a surgeon from Hertford. He bought the inn in about 1745. Dimsdale was a pioneer of ‘variolation’, or inoculation, against smallpox and wrote several papers on the subject. True or False?
True! Dimsdale’s fame spread and, in 1768, he was invited to Russia to inoculate Empress Catherine the Great, her son the Grand Duke Paul and some 140 of her courtiers. He was paid £12,000, given an annual pension of £500 and made a baron of the Russian Empire.”