The King George II Inn

AMERICA’S OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY OPERATING INN

Founded in 1681, The King George II Inn has achieved milestones that few restaurants will ever see.  From colonial times – before there even was a United States – to the present, there has been a longstanding tradition here of providing exceptional food & drink, paired with unmatched hospitality, to all who pass through our doors.

 

 

We are proud to carry on that tradition.

A SHARED BIRTHDAY

How it all began

After arriving from England, Samuel Clift received a grant from Governor Andros of New York of 262 acres in March of 1681, contingent upon his founding a ferry to Burlington and establishing a public house.  This grant was to become effective with William Penn’s Charter from King Charles II of England. And so, our inn, our town, our county and our state share the same birthday!

Clift’s ferry service survived for 250 years until the opening of the Burlington-Bristol bridge in 1931. Clift’s public house that began as “The Ferry House” and has been known as the Fountain House and the Delaware House over the years is now the King George II Inn.  And yes – George Washington really did sleep here, although not as President but as a young man en route to Connecticut to seek his first military commission.

Samuel Clift died in 1684 and today is memorialized in the street that bears his name at the Mill Street Wharf.

BRISTOL & THE KING GEORGE

A SHARED HISTORY

  • The King George II Inn offers what a good history should…a mirror on the past with a window on the present.  According to our records, many dignitaries were guests at the inn, including General George Washington and Presidents John Tyler, John Adams, James Madison, and Millard Fillmore.
  • The bar was imported from a ship called the Lafayette. All of the dark wood in the bar is the original wood. There are stained glass transoms and chandeliers. The bar sign says it is dedicated to the merry souls who make drinking a pleasure, who achieve contentment long before capacity. The Inn also has its own coat of arms proudly displaying the date 1681.
  • The 1765 structure that is still visible today replaced the original ferry house which had opened at Bristol’s founding in 1681. During the Revolutionary War, the inn served as headquarters for General Cadwalader in December 1776, when he and 3,000 soldiers were stationed at Bristol to guard against British attacks along the river. It was here that Cadwalader prepared to assist General George Washington with his Christmas night attack on the Hessian soldiers at Trenton – an event now celebrated as the historic “Crossing of the Delaware”.
  • Following the Revolutionary War, Bristol was the principal spa destination in America, made so by the Bath Springs just outside of town. Each summer, the King George II Inn was crowded with rich and distinguished guests from all parts of the nation and abroad. During the periods before and after the Revolution, the inn had the reputation of being one of the best hotels between Philadelphia and New York City.

A GHOSTLY PRESENCE?

Some guests never leave…

You may know the inn for its fine dining and excellent service, but did you know that chairs, lamps and silverware move themselves around, pictures fly off the wall and doors in empty rooms have a funny habit of slamming shut? People have often reported seeing the apparition of a man known as the dancing ghost. This top-hatted individual dressed in 19th century finery is definitely not one of the upstairs tenants. Maybe he is doing the Bristol Stomp up on the third floor of the King George?

One tenant reported the distinct sound of a baby-crying deep within the walls of the old inn – she swore she heard an infant’s ghost. Rich Jones, who works at the King George, said he saw something up on the third floor but could not tell what it was because as he approached, the figure dissolved and disappeared. Matt Pucher said that standing in the upstairs kitchen you can feel somebody rushing by and heading up to the third floor. “It feels like someone is quickly walking by, but when you go to check there is no one there. Also, if you look to your right at the floor landing, there is often an unexplained presence.”

We know that General George Washington and Lafayette slept at the King George, but is it possible that their ghosts are still roaming the halls?  Experts say that with over 300 years of history it’s not unusual to have sightings like this.  Maybe the spirits of past guests are still watching over us as we enjoy ourselves in a surrounding so rich in culture and history.