Bristol has no shortage of venues to grab a drink or bite to eat. With a fantastic range of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants of diverse cultures, you’ll be spoiled for choice no matter where you go.
But hidden on an island on Frogmore Street, just a few steps beyond Banksy’s Well Hung Lover, is an historic gem that has stood its ground since the 1600s and is well worth a visit: The “Definitely Haunted” (according to their Instagram feed) Hatchet Inn. With many famous historic patrons over the years – including the infamous pirate captain Blackbeard – you might find yourself brushing shoulders with more spirits than you bargained for.
The Olde Hatchet Inn
It’s said that the Hatchet Inn was named for the axes wielded by woodsmen in nearby Clifton Woods at the time of its construction, in 1600. Though the building has suffered over time, from wear and tear and from the Blitz, it has retained enough of its original structure to have Grade II listed status. Restoration and rejuvenation has kept the building modern and relevant without compromising its character.
It’s not difficult to see why. A slightly wonky Tudor exterior sandwiched on an island among modern buildings add to a sense of age and mystery. Even before you cross the threshold, you might want to give the C17th front door a closer look: it is said that, under centuries of paint, human skin was used in its construction.
Stepping inside might feel like stepping back in time. Described as cosy and confusing due to the small rooms and low ceilings, every nook and cranny suggests a story. In places this is literal: some guides suggest that after you’ve grabbed a drink you should take the time to explore the ground floor where the walls are littered with facts and legends from the pub’s history.
While the Inn itself has almost always been a pub, there have been times when it has branched out. At some point in the Hatchet’s storied past, it was a brothel and gambling den. Depending on which account you read where the beer garden now stands was either a rat pit, an arena for bear-baiting and bare-knuckle fighting, or a cock-fighting ring. Perhaps all three!
In 2006 the pub celebrated it’s 400-year anniversary: The street was closed off and staff members dressed up in historical costumes.
These days the Hatchet Inn is best known for its music with an emphasis on rock, the upstairs serving as a venue for live band performances.
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Bristol Treasure Hunts - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of England.