Originally named the Griffin, the main building is the oldest part, and has been said to go back to Elizabethan times, or even earlier. The lower two stories of the bay window and the mounting block are probably 18th century, but the top story of the bay is later. It was heavily extended and improved in 1885 (architect F. R. Wilson), including widening the arch to allow vehicles to pass through. There was a theatre in the yard behind, later used as a billiard hall. Removed when Morrisons built in 1986.
From the Alnwick Mercury, Dec 12th 1885.
The Nag’s Head. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth there stood in Fenkle Street a comfortable hostelry known as the Griffin. Many a trusty liege in doubtlet and trunk hose, with his dame riding behind him on a pillion, alighted at the mounting-block placed near its entrance, many a string of weary pack-horses threaded their way through the narrow passage through the building to the commodious stabling in the rear, all content to find the sufficient accommodation it afforded in those old days. As time went on, however, varied alterations were made, and among them the sign was changed frem the Griffin to the Nag’s Head. Under this name, with a theatre built over its large stables in the rear, the old Inn has been handed down to us, homely and hoary, with its narrow entrance way, its stone-mounting block and settle the side of its bay window. Though picturesque in the extreme, it cannot but be allowed that the accommodation that was sufficient in the days of Queen Elizabeth no longer sufficed, and the fact that no vehicles could pass into the stable yard without going round through a remote backway, in consequence of the passageway from the front having been made for horses only, formed a daily inconvenience. With a view to place the Inn upon the level of its ancient reputation, the late much lamented E,. T. Grey, acting for the owner, Mrs Grey, commenced a series of improvements we think should be recorded in these columns. The entrance way has been widened to admit vehicles of all sorts, well lighted and well paved, presenting perhaps, the most characteristic difference in the requirements between Elizabethan and Victorian times, showing the increase of wheeled traffic, better roads and a greater perfection of sanitary matters, generally. A wide well lighted handsome staircase das been placed, giving access to a set of n-w rooms on the first and second floors. On the ground floor is a handy “bar” and additional improvements have been made to a second “snuggery” and to the well known and well frequented .carriers’ hull-kitchen. new commercial room and business room and bedroom, bath room, and w. c. have been added on the first floor. And cu the second floor are two new rooms, one of which by the raising of the quaint old bay window is furnished with a delightful sunny and wide range prospect. Throughout these alterations the strictest attention has been paid to the acquisition of high class sanitary arrangements, by the architect, Mr F. K. Wilson, of this town. The works were executed by the well known firm of Luke and Dixon, builders, likewise of this town. At the beginning of this century this interesting old inn was kept Mrs Appleby. lu the middle of tho century it was kept by Mrs Dunn of golden memory. Since then its good name has been well maintained by Mr Fergus Clark, and now under Mr K. Turnbull, with these improvements, we take it for granted it has entered upon a new lease of great hospitable usefulness.