The Hanover Inn

Status:Closed following a fire in June 2022. Rebuild project underway.
The Hanover Inn, Harwich
The Hanover Inn.


Like many Harwich buildings the Hanover has had a number of uses over the years but the main fabric of the building we see today probably started out as a house, or houses, in the late 18h Century. It is built in brick, which is part painted and part rendered, and has a hipped roof covered with Welsh slate.

It became the Hanover Square Dining Rooms in the late 1850s and probably became licensed as a beer house to support these activities. The establishment was founded by William Lawrence, the son of a farmer from Aspall in Suffolk.

The Star of the East reported on Friday 26th October 1888:

FIRE. On Wednesday evening the Hanover Square Dining Rooms, Harwich, the property of Mr. W. Lawrence had a very narrow escape of being destroyed by fire through the accidental falling of a paraffin lamp, which being suspended to a beam in the dining room, fell on to a table and broke, setting fire to the table cloth, carpets, rugs &c. But for prompt and praiseworthy conduct of Mrs Lawrence and her daughter a serious conflagration must have occurred, and the house no doubt would have been destroyed. Mrs. Lawrence’s clothing caught fire, but happily she was not injured. We understand Mr. Lawrence was insured.

William Lawrence was a popular landlord and kept a clean and tidy inn, laying on meals and providing lodging for parties visiting Harwich. As time went on he slowly returned to farming with a sizeable milking herd and probably also growing vegetables – in 1895 he was advertising for a “Young man to milk and plough” in the East Anglian Daily Times. At that time his daughter Alice was looking after the Dining Rooms and William simply declares himself to be a farmer.

By 1901 the Lawrence family had left the Hanover and were running the farm from Albermarle Street on the Bathside. Gertrude Curtis had taken over at the Hanover and seven years later in 1908 Harriet Dorman was the new proprietor – staying on until 1925.

The Hanover Inn, Harwich
The Hanover Inn in 1968.

In more recent times – probably after the war – the Hanover was acquired by the mighty Cobbold empire, becoming Tollemache and Cobbold when the Ipswich brewers merged in 1957. Around this time the Hanover became fully licensed so it could serve wines and spirits in addition to beer.

The Hanover Inn was listed Grade II by English Heritage in 1972.

When Tolly Cobbold collapsed in 1989 legendary landlord Barry Mackness bought the pub and ran it until his retirement in 2016.

After being purchased in 2016 and refurbished the pub closed during the 2020/21 COVID-19 pandemic and permission was later sought to turn the building into flats. When that scheme was rejected the Hanover was saved by David Todd and two of his friends who bought and reopened it as a community pub in late August 2021.

Unfortunately on Tuesday 14th June 2022 disaster struck when a serious fire in Church Street destroyed the Hanover and two adjacent cottages. The fire brigade struggled to bring the blaze under control and when the fire was eventually extinguished and investigations launched it proved impossible to determine the cause or seat of the fire.

As usual the Harwich Community rallied round and remain determined that the pub will be rebuilt and reopened.

Notable Facts, Things to Look Out For

Historic Harwich Pub Trail is a collaboration between the Tendring Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale and the Harwich Society.
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