Former Black Lion Inn, Conwy
Former Black Lion Inn, 11 Castle Street, Conwy
For a long time, this building was presumed to date from 1589, the year displayed above the front door. But c.2010 a sample taken from one of the roof timbers, on behalf of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, was tested and established that the timber was felled in 1441-42.
The oldest parts of the building date from the period when Conwy was rebuilt following destruction of the walled town in 1401 by the forces of Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndwr. Archaeology has indicated the house was originally an urban two-bay hall house with jointed crucks. The hall house was converted in 1589, when it became a stone-walled storeyed house with hearth passage.
The initials JB and E appear alongside that date above the door. JB was John Brickdall, vicar of Conwy at the time. The house was either the vicarage or his private residence. He was descended from Thomas Brickdall, possible Conwy Castle’s first governor. The wealthy Brickdall family was prominent for several centuries in Conwy. The house was known as Brickdall House until the late 19th century.
The building was remodelled in the 18th century probably for its new use as the Black Lion posting inn, a public house catering for people travelling in horse-drawn coaches.
An outbuilding behind the Black Lion was used at some time for a weekly pig market, held on Monday mornings. The Black Lion has its own well, stone steps up to the town wall behind, and a cellar rumoured to conceal a secret escape tunnel to the quay (beneath the town wall). There are tales that the building is haunted by two spirits, one of them sinister, the other playful and mischievous.
In 1935 the building was bought by electrical engineer William Henry Morgan, who ran his business from an outbuilding in the rear yard which was previously stables. The front of the building was let to tenants who ran a sweetshop. A seasonal teashop opened in 1952 in the “siambr fawr”, the large chamber.
From 1958 the building housed a combined teashop and antiques business. In 2002 it was bought by Ian Hughes, owner of a local car-repair business, who began a restoration. One of his panel beaters created the metal jackdaws that adorn the roof. Anybody born within the walled town is traditionally known as a “jackdaw”.
A new owner, Angharad Jones, completed the building’s renovation for residential use in 2015.
With thanks to Ray Castle
FOOTNOTES: Details of the building’s occupants over the centuries
Postcode: LL32 8AY
Website of 11 Castle Street - including archaeological reports
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