The History of the Royal Oak

The Royal Oak York is a Grade II listed building located close to Monkbar on Goodramgate. The city of York is synonymous with history, and Goodramgate itself was created almost 1000 years ago – a time when the Vikings occupied the city. The street takes it’s name from Guthrum, King of the Danish Vikings in the Danelaw. Guthrum was defeated by Alfred the Great at the battle of Eddington in 878.

The building itself dates back to the 15th Century when it was probably used as accommodation for one of the many merchants that sold their goods on the street.

In 1772 John Dickinson was the first recorded landlord to use the building as an inn or tavern, although locally it is believed to have been an inn for decades before this.

By 1783 Charles Popplewell was running an inn on the site under the name of The Blue Pigg. This name remained for 11 years when it was renamed The Blue Bore (or Boar) under the stewardship of a John Furness.


Future Mayor of York John Kilby took over the establishment in 1797 and owned it for just over two decades until he was forced to relinquish control after being declared bankrupt. In the late Summer of 1819 the rights to the pub were publicly auctioned in the Robin Hood in Castlegate (now the Blue Boar) with Thomas Belt submitting the winning bid of £460.


The name of the pub would change again to become known as the Royal Oak by 1825, and three years later Robert Bowman would take over the running of the pub. Bowman would remain in charge until 1849 when The Oak was passed into the Bateman family.

Robert Bateman and his wife Ellen would run the pub and raise their three children; Mary-Anne, Robert and Jane, for the following nine years until Robert Sr.’s death. Ellen continued to run the premises until 1871, when her son-in-law, William Shutt of Harrogate became primary licensee.

William married Jane Bateman, Robert and Ellen’s daughter, and the couple ran the pub together until 1881 when William passed away. Widowed Jane then took over the running of the pub – just as her mother had done some 23 years prior.

In 1886, Robert Bateman Jr. – son of Robert and Ellen – abandoned his trade as a Butcher to run The Royal Oak with his wife Elizabeth. Sadly Robert died soon after becoming publican, leaving his widow Elizabeth and their son Albert to take over.

In 1894 John J. Hunt Brewery – located on the adjacent Aldwark –  purchased the pub and one year later Walter Dodgson became landlord. This was the first time in 45 years that the pub had not been in the Bateman family.

Leonard Coates became landlord in 1898 and erected a large wooden sign above the doorway of the pub simply announcing his name. The sign remained in position after Leonard’s death in 1902 when his widow Eliza became landlady.

Henry William Hutton became the first licensed victualler in 1909 and remained in place until after the First World War.

Elizabeth Harling was landlady between 1920 and 1932 and in 1934 John J. Hunt Brewery temporarily closed the pub the refurbish the interior and created the mock Tudor or Elizabethan exterior which still adorns the building to this day.