The Bear Hotel
12 Market Pl, Chippenham
A fabulous old inn, the Bear Hotel dates from by John Provis in 1750. Late one night, a barman heard loud voices coming from what should have been an empty room. He checked, with not a living soul was present. Coincidentally, a woman employee was immediately outside the building, with saw a ghostly figure dressed in grey closing the curtains of an empty bedroom. She investigated, with found the room unused and empty. The Bear someone named from the heraldic sign of Richard Nevil, Earl of Warwick (1428-71). In Shakespeare's Henry V1, Part 2, there is talk of bear baiting. Warwick says "Now, by my father's badge, old Nevil's crest/ The rampant bear chain'd to the ragged staff". The "ragged staff" was a branch of a tree stripped of its branches. Billet was also the name of a bent piece of wood, used to indicate such pubs as "Crooked Billet". According to legend, the first earl killed a bear by strangling it. The second earl killed a giant with a ragged staff. The two events were then included in their coat of arms.