The name of the village of Princethorpe probably derives from an Anglo – Saxon farmer called Pren. Parts of the building of the Three Horseshoes public house date in part over 300 hundred years. Records state that the inn was originally three cottages built in the late 18th century when the ancient Roman Fosse Way ran past the front door.
Over the last century, roads have been diverted and created around the pub to give the current configuration. The first record of the pub’s name is in 1816 when it was run by Anthony Warwick, he was also recorded as being a local publican in 1811 so the pub might well existed earlier. 1828 Richard Cleaver was publican and still in charge in 1853. He (or a namesake) was also a farmer in the village, dual occupation was common in small communities.
By 1860, a former carpenter, William Chamberlain was the publican, his son Henry listed as the publican in 1866 and in 1874 he was described as `victualler and joiner`. By 1880 William Shepherd was the publican with the first woman appearing in 1896 – Mrs Jane Shepherd (presumed his widow). 1901 census states William Henson aged 40 & born in Princethorpe was the publican of the Three Horseshoes, he was assisted by his spinster sisters Elizabeth aged 44 & Lucy aged 42, they were still licensees in the 1911 census. The pub has been owned by Geoff & Ann since 2010.
The pub was the frequent watering hole of the Home Guard during the second world war. According to local history, a lunch was hosted at the pub on 12th June 2006 as part of the commemoration of the death 200 years earlier of the pioneer of modern day land drainage, Joseph Elkington. Born in Stretton, he was awarded £1,000 by parliament in 1795 for his new land drainage system, Hither to open drains were used in the fields, despite their interference with cultivation. Elkington drained a field in Princethorpe to show how wet marginal land could be made productive – a necessary step in the Agricultural Revolution. The Government hastened with the payment in case all knowledge of his original 1764 discovery died with him as he was in ‘precarious health’.
From the award was founded the family firm of Elkingtons, the famous silversmiths which continued until 1963 when it was taken over by British Silverware Ltd. During its heyday, Elkingtons received various royal warrants of appointment. One of their most famous pieces in the electrotype copy of the Jerningham wine cooler at the Victoria & Albert museum. The pub has a very successful men’s Northamptonshire table skittles team which has won a number of titles over the past few years. The team is made up of various locals from Princethorpe and the surrounding villages.