Revolution House – Old Whittington, England - Atlas Obscura

Old Whittington, England

Revolution House

A secret meeting in this small cottage changed the course of British history. 

A secret meeting held within this stone thatched cottage changed the course of British history. It was here that in 1688 three conspirators who eventually succeeded in unseating King James II met to hatch their plans.

In this insignificant-looking building, a small group plotted to invite William of Orange, husband of King James’ protestant daughter Mary, to invade England and force the king to name Mary as heir to the throne. This invitation helped bring about the downfall of King James II and led to William and Mary’s rule.

The Earl of Danby, John D’Arcy, and the Earl of Devonshire (later to become Duke) originally intended to meet outside disguised as a hunting party, away from earshot of anyone who might put an end to their scheme. However, England’s infamously foul weather caused them to move their secret meeting indoors. 

The dramatic change in the monarchy these men helped instigate came to be known as the Glorious Revolution. It later resulted in the Act of Settlement, which established the Hanoverian line of succession (and thus possibly was a factor in the start of the American Revolution).

Back when the clandestine meeting took place, what’s now the Revolution House was a pub called the Cock and Pynot (pynot is a local word for magpie). About 50 dignitaries met at Revolution House in 1788 on the centennial of the Glorious Revolution, while it was still an alehouse. The procession was led by the Duke of Devonshire, the Duchess, and the Mayor of Chesterfield.

Today, the house contains a small museum featuring period furnishings and exhibitions about local history. There’s also a video explaining the revolution. Nearby, there’s currently a pub called the Cock and Magpie. It opened in 1790 when the original Cock and Pynot was converted into a residence.

Know Before You Go

Admission is free and the house is open on Saturday, Sunday, and Bank Holiday Mondays from March 31 to September 30, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.