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The King Johns Tavern

Read about Hartlepool’s most famous story.

1 South Road, Hartlepool, County Durham, TS26 9HD

This is located in the corner of the market place, the historic centre of Hartlepool, whose right to hold a market and to appoint its own mayor was given by King John in 1201. This pub is situated at the corner of the market place, with the surrounding buildings built around 1970.

A print and text about King John.


The text reads: In 1201, for the then princely sum of £20, King John granted the burgess of Hartlepool a charter which allowed them to hold a weekly market and an annual fifteen day fair.

It also allowed them to run their own courts of justice and organise a guild to regulate the town’s commercial activities.

The market is still held today by the local people of Hartlepool.

A photograph, illustrations and text about the monkey hanging story. 


The text reads: The monkey-hanging legend is the most famous story connected with Hartlepool. During the Napoleonic Wars a French ship was wrecked off the Hartlepool coast. During the Napoleonic Wars there was a fear of French invasion of Britain and much public concern about the possibility of French infiltrators and spies.

The fishermen of Hartlepool fearing an invasion kept a close watch on the French vessel as it struggled against the storm but when the vessel was severely battered and sunk they turned their attention to the wreckage washed ashore. Among the wreckage lay one wet and sorrowful looking survivor, the ship’s pet money dressed to amuse in a military style uniform.

The fishermen apparently questioned the monkey and held a beach-based trial. Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman looked like they came to the conclusion that this monkey was a French spy and should be sentenced to death, the unfortunate creature was to die by hanging, with the mast of a fishing boat (a coble) providing a convenient gallows.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.


If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk