The Old Bell is located in one of the most ornate buildings in Gloucester and according to Daniel Kirby, author of The Story of Gloucester’s Pubs, the facade dates from about 1664-5 and was designed by Gilbert a Becket.
It was built for Thomas Yate a former mayor of Gloucester and contains a highly decorative fireplace on the first floor. Dated 1650 and bearing the coat of arms of the Yates family, the fireplace appears to be constructed from wood but is actually made from stone.
Atop the piece are two lions and near the mantel are four cherubs each representing Yates’ four sons. Interestingly, one of the cherubs features six fingers.
Kirby does question whether the fireplace is too big for the room and therefore not in its original place but the landlord was keen to point out that buildings from that age have bowed ceilings and whilst some are corrected, the Old Bell’s hasn’t been. This bowed ceiling gives the impression that the fireplace is too big.
Over the years, as well as being the Yate’s house, it has also been a tea warehouse, ‘The Blue House’ (due to its colour) and an annex to the Bell Hotel which no longer exists. It is presently the Tiger’s Eye restaurant serving pan-Asian food and has a small bar on the first floor and an additional bar on the second floor. The ground floor is occupied by Costa Coffee.
Whilst not strictly a pub in the true sense, they do serve one well keep ale and it’s worth a visit for the fireplace, original 17th century staircase and the original wooden panelling.
For a more detailed history of the building including old photographs of the interior and exterior, visit the Old Bell website.
Only one ale is served at the Old Bell as it is mainly a restaurant. When I visited in January, 2011, the beer was Molegrip from Moles Brewery. They also sell the usual lagers and ciders and they are better known for their big selection of vodka and if you check into the venue on foursquare, you get a free shot!
Visiting The Old Bell
The Old Bell is accessed via a staircase to the right of Costa Coffee. Although an Old Bell pub sign hangs above the entrance to Costa, the side entrance looks like there’s only a restaurant there. You need to go up the stairs to the first floor where you will find the bar where you welcome to have just a drink.
More Photos of the Old Bell
9a Southgate Street
Tel: 01452 332993
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