A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

The Vanished Pubs of Chester Gallery

old edgar

The Old Edgar, on the corner of Shipgate Street and Lower Bridge Street dates from around 1500. After years of dereliction it was restored and now serves as a private residence. In 1828, when it was called The Edgar Tavern, its licencee was John Moulton, in 1850 George Owens.
The 1871 census lists the inn under the name The King Edgar.

A 1905 postcard advertised The Edgar Tavern, as it was then still called, as offering "refreshment rooms and accomodation for cyclists". Our photograph below shows it in 1930, still serving as a cafe.

Above we see The Old Edgar with the still-thriving Bear and Billet behind it, in a fine watercolour by Louise Rayner (1832-1924).

old edgarNo pubs at all now exist in Shipgate Street but several once traded in this short thoroughfare that for centuries gave access to the once-important seaport of Chester...

The Royal Oak
was mentioned in The Chester Directory of 1782 when its landlord was Gerard Jordan and in Pigot's Directory in 1828, licencee Reginald Tummons. Another, better known, Royal Oak was in Foregate Street and remains with us today, albeit as a branch of Curry's.

An unnamed inn and garden in Shipgate Street was let by the city for a rent of 2 shillings per annum to one John Houghton in 1550.

The French Horn was listed as being "at the Shipgate".

The Millstone was listed in Pigot's 1828-1829 Directory. A Millstone also appears under nearby Lower Bridge Street in this directory so may have been one pub situated at the junction of the two streets. However, the licencees names differ; Thomas Ball at the Lower Bridge Street Millstone and Charles Hilditch in the Shipgate Street one...

The Hole in the Wall in Shipgate Street was listed in Cowdroy's Directory in 1785 when the licencee was William Thomas.

Advertisement from Adams’s Weekly Courant, 1st July 1783:

"To be LET, And entered upon immediately, AN old-accustomed Public-House, in Shipgate-street, near the Bridge, known by the Name of the HOLE-IN-THE-WALL, with good Cellaring, Brewhouse, and other Conveniences for brewing of Ale. Inquire of John Ridgway, Malster, who has for Sale, Fine old Jamaica RUM, neat as imported".

old edgar
'The Edgar Tavern', sometime in the 19th century. Note the three balls of a pawnbroker's hanging above Shipgate House opposite.

old edgar
Above: The Old Edgar in a near-derelict condition in the late 19th century
and, right, in much better nick and serving as a cafe in 1930
old edgar

olde edgar
The Olde Edgar Cafe: "Bed & Breakfast. Accomodation for Cyclists"

old edgar and shipgate
This view of the Old Edgar also includes a rare glimpse of the long-removed Shipgate.
The still-thriving Bear & Billet Inn is on the left of the photograph.

the old edgar today
The Old Edgar photographed by the author in 2009.

old edgar then and now
A remarkable 'then and now' rendering by the digital artist Martin Moss showing the Old Edgar and its neighbourhood in the 19th century and today.

Do you have any more information about this old pub?

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