The Dog & Partridge

The Dog & Partridge is probably the oldest inn in Tutbury and, after the Church and Castle, certainly one of the oldest buildings in the area.

Modern photo

By tradition it is dated to the 14th century when John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster held his court at Tutbury and his son, Henry Bolingbroke, later to become King Henry IV, spent much of his boyhood at Tutbury Castle.

Near to the Dog & Partridge at this time was the Bull Ring where, during the annual Fair, the cruel 'sport' of Bull Running reached its climax when the poor beast, having been tormented chased and captured, was further baited by dogs and eventually killed and divided among the participants.


During this period the house was in the possession of the Curzons of Kedleston, a rich and powerful family, and it probably became an inn like many another rich man's house. In the owner's absence it would be kept by a steward who, with his master's consent, would make a profit by receiving guests.

The wealthier class of traveller preferred to take up lodgings in this way rather than take a chance in the common tavern. The proximity of the hunting facilities in the Needwood Forest attracted many visitors and these sporting associations probably explain the origin of the name.

Colour photo

Most of the current building dates from the 16th and 17th centuries and is in the black and white half-timbered style of the time. Additions were made in the 18th century when coaching was at its height.

At this time the coach route from Liverpool to London passed through Tutbury and every morning at 4am the 'Red Rover' stopped at the Dog & Partridge for a change of horses and, no doubt, the refreshment of the passengers. At 8am the coach in the reverse direction stopped for similar reasons.

The Red Rover

The 'Red Rover' was one of the fast, light, night coaches, which ran along the toll roads before the introduction of the railways.

In 1819 one coach driver was imprisoned for 3 months for proceeding through the Tutbury Turnpike Tollgate (at the top of Burton St, where the bus shelter now stands) without paying.

In 1817 the Dog & Partridge was in the hands of Lord Scarsdale. In 1818 it was operated by "John Gascoigne, Victualler" and since then it has passed through several hands, including Messrs. Truman, Hanbury and Buxton (whose tenant in 1949 was Mr.B.B.Wiseheart) before coming to its present owner.

There are stories of secret passages connecting the cellars of the building to the Castle but there does not seem to be any evidence of this.

More recently the inn's restaurant has acquired something of a reputation and has won several awards.