A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

The Vanished Pubs of Chester Gallery

ye deva in the 1980s

Known variously as The Moon Tavern, The Albion Tavern, Ye Deva Hotel and, today, Amber Lounge, this has been a licenced premises since the mid 17th century. It long retained a fine Elizabethan interior with most of its beams, stairs and fireplaces, still intact. As to how that fine interor has been treated of recent times, see below...

A correspondent told us, "The Amber Lounge and the Victoria (the pub next door) were once part of the same building many many years ago, but no dates were given in the records as to their separation. This may be why I cannot find any reference to the Victoria (including previous pub names) from between 1781 and 1910".

It was one of a number of properties in Chester to be subject to the Execution Rent. Execution Rent Tenants were bound to keep watch on the City Walls on three nights in the year, namely on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Stephen's Day (26th December) and they were bound to mount guard over and conduct felons and robbers as far as the gallows at Boughton. For their services these tenants were "exempt from attendance on all inquisitions, juries and assizes, except when held before the Lord, the Prince and the Earl of Chester". The inn was recorded as being used as a polling station in 1809.

It was renamed The Albion Tavern and later Ye Deva Hotel (a later still variation being The Olde Deva Hotel) and was recalled in the Cheshire Sheaf as having entertained the choirboys of the Cathedral at Christmas in the 1840s. It was run at the time by a Mrs Matthews, "a thoughtful, respectable woman, a fine specimen of the real old-fashioned sort of landlady, of whom I suspect there are not many now to be met with under the shadow of 'mine inn'". The Deva was originally a two storey pub, however the street level pub closed down, leaving the Row level section of the pub only, at 8 Watergate Row North. It finally closed and became a wine and dine bar called The Room, but has since changed to a wine bar/restaurant called Amber Lounge.

In 2012, the excellent Chester Beer Project voted Amber Lounge the third worst pub in Chester. This is what they said, "This place is completely devoid of character, which is quite an astonishing thing to say about a building that dates from at least the 16th century. Nevertheless, it’s true. So while the ambience or whatever isn’t exactly offensive in any way, the really depressing thing is the wasted potential and the contempt with which the building’s provenance has been treated. An interior design ponce has obviously been let loose in here some time in the mid 90s and armed with a ‘minimalist sensibility’ and a few cans of white paint has vandalised the magnificent Elizabethan structures and fittings. Hopefully, someone with half a brain will restore it all at some point – and will get some decent ale in an’ all".

In June 2010, we were pleased to hear from reader Dave Siddons who wrote, "Hi, first of all can I say what a great web site you are running. I have forewarded it to all my friends all over the world.
In 1983 I became landlord of The Olde Deva in Watergate Street (now known as The Amber Lounge). It was a split-level pub with a bar on the street and a bar on the Rows. I decided to research the history and had this board (see below) made which shows all the publicans from King Charles's day up to 1983. We left The Deva in 1986 and took over the Rake and Pikel. In 1988 I became Landlord of The Oddfellows Arms untill we retired in 2006. I hope this picture will help with your pubs past and present site".

Indeed it does, Dave, and many thanks for sending it. The excellent information it contains is as follows (with some additional notes of our own)-

The Moon. Mentioned in 1634, 1697 and 1795. The first licencee listed is Thomas Archer in 1799. In 1809 the inn is listed as belonging to one Colonel Hamilton and ihe landlord was Joseph Nunnerly. In 1821 it was John Matthews. In 1822, the name changed to The Albion Tavern. It was listed as such in Pigot's 1828/9 Directory. John Matthews was still in charge and remained so for another twenty years, until 1842 when his widow Mrs Matthews took control. In 1850 another John Matthews (their son?) was the licencee. The Albion appeared in the Chester Trades Directory in this year. In 1856 Charles Wooley was landlord. He appears as such the 1859 Post Office Directory of Cheshire.

In 1873, the inn's name became an amalgam of past and present: The Albion & Moon and the street and Row levels were separated, the landlord of the lower being Thomas Sparks and that of the higher, Row premises William Furber.

In 1877 the inn was acquired by the Northgate Brewery (until 1883) and William Furber is recorded as the licencee (of the reunited premises, presumably). In 1878, Harry Vaughan was in charge, in 1881 Archibald Sloane, in 1882 John Ellis Edwards. The name changed to that of The Albion in this year but, just a year later, it was changed again to Ye Deva and its owner is given as Chester Corporation. Licencee in 1886 Thomas A Atkinson, in 1890 Joseph O tkinson, in 1903 Agnes Atkinson, in 1912 Ernest W Dyke, in 1921 Agnes L Dyke.

In 1938, the Deva was bought by the brewers Greenall Whitley, Agnes Dyke still being the tenant until 1947 when J Gladwys Talbot took over. In 1967 it was A Wiliams, in 1977 A L Jones, in 1978 John Lowry (see below), in 1882 I Turner and in 1983 our kind informant Mr D B Siddons moved in, staying until 1988.

deva hotel sign

The Chester artist Jill Pears wrote to tell us, "I remember working in the Deva as a barmaid in 1978 under licencee John Lowry. I was saving to go abroad with friends at the time.
It was a two-tier pub, the lounge being in the Rows and the bar in the street level. It had dark red walls, oak beams and quaint black lead lights, such as you'd find outside a front door.
I remember that a half-pint was 14 pence, a pint being 28 pence and spirits were 30 pence- those were the days!
We used to get quite a few characters in in those days. If you were asked for a cider, you had to get it from upstairs via the dumb waiter. The pumps were very handy, as, say, if you were asked for a brown over bitter, you could just pull the half; the pump would stop at the exact half pint while you got the bottle ready. No computer tills in those days and you had to add up in your head- you had to have your wits about you! I enjoyed my time there though.."

ye deva hotel

amber lounge
How the old Deva looks today

Do you have any more information about this old pub?

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