Worcester Cathedral in the period 1100 to 1540 was one of the principal places of pilgrimage. Many ecclesiastical inns sheltered near the Cathedral, catering for the traveller and pilgrim. The first reference to the Cardinal's Hat is in 1497, when the inn was designated as being one of the depots for the City's fire hooks. It existed long before that, and was connected with the Priory, for in 1518, Nicholas Mocock, who held the inn, sent Prior Moore, with a lamprey. These were turbulent years for the Church, and Roger Bury the next landlord, saw the Roman Church overthrown, then re-instated, and again overturned, before his death in 1565.
In 1555, he was called to give evidence before the Bailiffs of the City when one of his customers accused another of spreading rumors concerning the death of Queen Mary, and the acclaiming of Philip of Spain as King. Bury maintained that 'he never harde Palmer specke any such words' The authorities were touchy about such rumors because of the general unpopularity of the Queen's Spanish marriage, and her own ill health during that summer. Nothing seems to have come of the accusations, but that they were brought shows the disquiet of the times.
In the mid-18th century, politics caused the inn to change its name. Documents dated 1748, state that the inn, 'previously the Cardinal's Hat' was then called the Swan and Falcon. The date is significant, for after the 1745 Rebellion, anything remotely savouring Roman Catholics, was out of favour. In 1814, the name was changed again to the Coventry Arms, to gain popularity from the Earl of Coventry, who was then Recorder of Worcester. The original name was restored in the 1950s. This inn is a good example of the importance of 'keeping in with the powers that be'.