City Centre Tour 17. The Old Bell

The Old Bell is on the upper floors of a Grade I listed building with a magnificent Jacobean timbered façade.

It was built around 1665 for the apothecary, Thomas Yate. The upper floors were leased by the Bell Hotel, which stood next door before closing in 1967 to be demolished, making way for the Eastgate Shopping Centre.

The main feature in the small timber-panelled bar is a magnificent fire place commemorating Yates’ two marriages and his children. The overmantle to the fireplace features his two wives and four sons. The son of his first wife is at the left hand side, the other three are sons by his second wife. If you look closely, one of the cherubs has six fingers on his left hand, as did one of his sons.

The Bell Hotel was probably Gloucester's most prestigious hotel. In 1785 it had become the official stopping place for the London mail coach. In 1906 an advertisement read: "Gloucester Bell Hotel Co. Ltd. Superior rubber tyred broughams, brakes, omnibuses, hansoms and every description of carriage on hire. Post Horses. Wedding Equipages. Omnibuses to and from railway stations. Pair and four horse brakes for pleasure boxes. Livery stables. Large loose boxes."

In 1912 the building was incorporated into the famous Bell Inn which stood adjacent on the south side. The Bell was the birthplace of George Whitefield, the evangelist, who travelled through all of the American colonies in the mid eighteenth century. At this time the Inn was run by his brother Richard, and is featured in Henry Fielding’s novel, Tom Jones, where it is described as ‘an excellent house indeed, and which I do seriously recommend to every reader’.

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Location

Longitude and latitude for The Old Bell: 51.8649946,-2.2462038

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