The Old Grey Mare Hotel is located in the city of Hull, a place that was first established as a town by the Monks of Meaux Abbey in the 12th century. They chose the area because it was at the junction of the River Humber, the perfect place to establish a port to export the wool from their estates.
In 1293 the port was bought by King Edward I, who used it as a supply base for his military campaigns in Scotland. Six years later, the King founded the borough of Kingston-upon-Hull on the site, and that name still remains the formal title of the city today.
During the Middle Ages the port thrived, importing grain, lead and wool from various parts of Europe. The city continued to prosper throughout the 16th and 17th centuries as trade expanded to the New World. The town’s strategic importance and large arsenal made it a valuable prize during the English Civil War. In 1642 Hull declared support for Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, and Charles I besieged the city in the first major action of the war, but he was unsuccessful in defeating Sir John Hotham’s forces in the city.
Another significant landmark in Hull is its university, which was founded in 1927 and sits across the road from The Old Grey Mare Hotel. The celebrated poet Philip Larkin was Head Librarian at the university’s Brynmor Jones Library for over 30 years, and is buried at nearby Cottingham. Poet laureate Andrew Motion also worked in the same library as did film director Anthony Minghella.
In 1972, George Gray and Ken Harrison created room-temperature stable liquid crystals in the university laboratories. This was a significant breakthrough for the electronics industry and brought with it immediate success. Hull became the first university to win the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for their accomplishment in this area.