Bristol’s Top Taverns, 1815

The Bush Tavern, Corn Street, Bristol in the Old Coaching Days, chromolithograph by William Lewis after JH Maggs.

There are many readily available old books and articles about London drinking establishments but other cities had their notable boozers, too.

Here, for example, is a handy list from an 1815 guide to the inns and taverns of Bristol:

Text: "There are many excellent and accommodating Inns and Taverns in the City, among which the following are the chief, viz. Bush, Corn-street; White Lion, White-Hart, Broad-street; Talbot, Bath-street; George and Saracen's Head, Temple-Gate; Full-Moon, Stoke's-croft; Greyhound, Broad-mead; White-Hart, Horse-fair; Rummer, All Saints' Passage; Montague, Kingsdown Parade; Bell, White Lion, Three Kings, and Three Queens, Thomasstreet; Queen's-Head and Angel, Redcliff-street; Hole in the Wall, Princes-street, and many others which would be too numerous to insert."

(In the original that text runs across a page break but we’ve stitched it together.)

The author was probably more interested in their hospitality (rooms and food) than in the drinks on offer but, still, it’s something to chew on.

Whenever we post something like this, we get asked: ‘Yeah, but how many of them are still there!?’ So, this time, we’ve checked (which took longer than we expected) and we reckon the answer is that, of the 18 taverns listed 200 hundred years ago, only five are still around and currently selling drinks.

We got most of our info from the fantastically complete Bristol’s Lost Pubs website and from Paul Townsend’s account on Flickr.

Because this has the makings of a historic pub crawl, too, we’ve also suggested substitute pubs for those which have gone, but you’ll have to work out your own route.

Main image: ‘The Bush Tavern, Corn Street, Bristol in the Old Coaching Days, chromolithograph by William Lewis after JH Maggs’, shamelessly nicked from Bristol Libraries Flickr account.

12 thoughts on “Bristol’s Top Taverns, 1815”

  1. Not quite true on St Thomas Street as the Fleece is on it and would not Thomas Lane therefore be a better substitute?

    I wonder if the King’s head was originally named something else and could conceivably be one of the pubs listed (and in any case should be a substitution in a modern crawl). Victoria Street is likely to have not been names as such in 1815, predating that famous queen’s reign by some 60 years

    Also wondering if the Portwall tavern at end of redcliff street may be one of those mentioned.

    I wonder if there are any digitised maps from that era. Interesting post!

    1. We’re not the Proper Pub Police or anything but the Fleece isn’t in a historic pub building and is a gig venue rather than a pub now, isn’t it? (But you know Bristol better than us and if you say it’s a pub, it’s a pub….)

      EDIT: And here’s an 1813 map — Victoria Street was Temple Street.

      1. (Martyn — Akismet marked your comment as spam and I accidentally deleted it. I’ve restored it from memory — hope I’ve got it right.)

  2. three kings and white lion were opposite where the fleece is now, three queens further down on the corner with three queens ;lane

    queens head #25 redcliff street

  3. Looks like there was an inn on horsefair where primark now stands, no name on map though, perhaps the lower maudlin one was a rename after the other was demolished?

      1. looking at the bristol pubs website there was a white horse on horsefair but white hart appears to have been there from mid 1600s

  4. looking at the different maps, three kings and bell had already closed by 1855, but talbot at end of road was still trading, by 1874 temple street had been renamed to victoria street and redirected taking over the yards of all three ins’s, the talbot becomming a hotel.

    Three Queens still existed

    The Fleece was originally a wool hall, name makes sense now! (became fleece and firkin then simply the fleece). Interestingly 7 stars not named on the map until 1874 edition

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