Pub of the week: The Black Castle

9 05 2012

What’s better than a pub in a castle? A pub in a castle which also has a ghost. The Black Castle pub in Brislington may not actually have ever been a castle; it was built between 1744 and 1755 as a folly for the grand manor house that is now Arnos Manor Hotel. For the non-believers, neither does it have ghosts, but the story goes that is haunted by both a horseman and a headless nun.

For such a grand edifice, built from pre-cast black copper-slag blocks from Reeve’s foundry at Crew’s Hole, with many of its freestone carving and dressings reputed to have come from Bristol’s demolished medieval gateways, the Black Castle now sits incongruously on the edge of a large Sainsbury’s car park next to the A4.

It is also now owned by the Flaming Grill Pub Company who have turned it into quite the worst sort of characterless chain pub, but one which paradoxically is within a building packed full of character.

There is a large courtyard bigger than most Bristol pubs which has its own screen to show live sport. Inside, there are small annexes, high ceilings from which dangle metal chandeliers and intricate stonework.

When I visited on a wet Monday afternoon, there were a few punters tucking into its cheap lunches. The pub is also popular with ITV staff from their offices just up the road, although that’s probably to do with its nearby location rather than its qualities as a pub, of which there are few.

Bombadier and Wadworth’s 6X were on tap, with Blossom Hill wines also served from a tap and coffee from Costa. Food is cheap, with burgers from £4.49, steaks from £5.49 and three choices of roast on a Sunday.

I couldn’t help thinking that the Black Castle really could be somewhere special with a bit of thought, and money. But instead it is decidedly boring. And that takes some doing in a pub with such a history and resident ghosts.

The Black Castle, St Philip’s Causeway, Brislington, Bristol, BS4 3BD
Telephone: 01179 115 812



One response

13 10 2012
Mick Dickinson (@MickDickinson)

Had a reasonable lunch in there today with my kids, but only after the barman had walked away halfway through our order to argue with colleagues, after he was convinced we already had run up a huge tab. Weird.

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