Rich in history and tradition
The 17th Century Days of the Mail Coach
The present Morritt dates back to the late 17th Century when there was a farm on the site. Some of the farm outbuildings were used until this century when they were converted into the hotel and surrounding buildings.
Through the 17th Century and the rise of the mail coach, Greta Bridge was the second overnight stop for the London-Carlisle coach, bringing with it a considerable number of visitors.
There were three inns at Greta Bridge, including The George, situated on the bridge on the other side of the river, and the New Inn, which is now Thorpe Farm.
The Dickensian Connection
In 1839 Charles Dickens visited Greta Bridge to research Nicholas Nickelby and highlight the hardship inflicted on their boys by certain Yorkshire schools. Infamy came to Dotheboys Hall in Bowes, which is still visible today along with the headmaster’s grave in Bowes church cemetery. Dickens stayed at one of the inns in Greta Bridge – possibly The Morritt – and in the novel was the meeting point between Nicholas and Wackford Squeers.
The 18th & 19th Century – Art and Literature
At the end of the 18th Century and beginning of the 19th Century, famous painters such as Turner and Cotman painted many of the beauty spots in and around the River Greta. The Meeting of the Waters, a 20-minute walk from the hotel, is one of the best known.
Sir Walter Scott wrote about the area and particularly of Brignall Banks flowing down to the river. His epic poem, Rokeby, is set a mile down the road from The Morritt, toward Barnard Castle.
The association of art with The Morritt is clearly demonstrated today with the unique mural of Dickensian characters in The Dickens Bar. In 1946 John Gilroy, a well-known portrait and landscape artist famous for his advertising images for Guinness, completed the mural in just eleven days as a favour to Major Morritt – then owner – whom he coached as an amateur artist. Three of Major Morritt’s paintings hang in the hotel today, while Gilroy’s Dickensian faces are said to represent local characters of the time!