In the will of Giles Cambridge of Coates, nr Cirencester, in 1685 he records that he had previously bought the Bell Inn, Cirencester, at a date unspecified, from Edward Barston, alias Rundold. He also stated that after the death of himself and his wife the Inn should be transferred to his son Andrew and his heirs. I have been unable confirm the date of the transfer but his wife died in 1698.
This information may help to define the history of the pub before 1800. The Bell was originally in Cricklade Street. It was a late medieval building which had its own brewhouse, supplying its home brewed ales to a handful of local pubs.
The Cirencester Brewery had its origins at the Bell. (The Cirencester Brewery Company was the owner of the Bell on 5th July 1888).
The History of Cirencester by Baddeley published in 1924 gave this account written by W. Scotford Harmer: ‘The sign (of the Bell) was formerly borne by the old part of the premises now occupied by the Cirencester Brewery of Messrs Cripps, and must have been an establishment of some pretensions, for when the late Mr Tom Matthews went to the brewery as a boy the later Frederick Cripps showed him a room then used for storing hops which he told Mr Matthews was formerly the assembly or music room of the Bell, and there were circular marks on the ceiling which indicated the position of a pipe organ that used to stand there. It was no doubt the establishment or extension of the brewery that led to the removal of the Bell a few doors higher up.’
By 1882 the name and licence had been transferred about two hundred yards up Cricklade Street to the corner of Castle Street. (85 Castle Street in 1919 directory). The old buildings were pulled down and the site redeveloped into a row of shops between 1936 and 1939.
In 1924 W. Scotford Harmer wrote: ‘The Bell Inn, which occupies the corner of Castle Street and Cricklade Street, is a modern building, and horrible to relate, appears to be constructed of brick, though it is mercifully coloured to imitate stone, and within the last few years it has it has been decently clothed in cement, in which the imaginary ashlar joints are picked out.’
The Bell closed about 1957 and became the offices of Hobbs & Chambers, local estate agents. One of the upstairs rooms had been used as a meeting place for farmers on market days and it was used in the early 1980’s as a venue for Darts League Championships.
Owner in 1891: Cirencester Brewery
Rateable Value in 1891: £24.0s.0d
Type of license in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Cirencester Brewery
Rateable Value in 1903: £24.0s.0d.
Type of license in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Landlords at the Bell Hotel include:
1803 Mr Gibbs (Cricklade Street)
1820 Sarah Paget
1830 Joseph Parson (Bell Tavern, Cricklade Street)
1840 William Bridges
1856,1885 William Clark
1891,1906 Frederick Wicks
1913,1919 John Sweeting
1927 William Hy. Sweeting