Cross Keys Inn, Dolgellau

button-theme-crimeCross Keys Inn, Dolgellau

This is one of the town’s oldest buildings, thought to date from the early 17th century. The pub now incorporates a former coach house at the rear. Inside you can see ancient beams and a broad fireplace. The front wall curves at the street corner, enabling vehicles to pass along narrow Mill Street, but only just! Where the curve begins you can see a sloping stone jutting out into the road – positioned to push horse-drawn vehicles clear of the building if the horses turned too soon.

One of the strangest incidents in the pub’s long history was a court case in 1880 when landlady Mary Roberts was accused of “harbouring a constable”. A police inspector had noticed a police constable with a bottle of ginger beer inside the Cross Keys at 10.15pm. Mrs Roberts should not have had a constable on the premises while he was on duty, but magistrates let Mrs Roberts off with a caution.

In 1881 the inn’s license was transferred to builder David Owen, who was still building houses in the town in the early 20th century. He advertised that the Cross Keys was established in 1650, and described himself as a merchant of wines, spirits and bottled beers. In 1893 he received a contract to supply the local workhouse (an institution for poor people) with port wine, at 22 shillings per dozen bottles.

He and his wife had several children while they ran the Cross Keys. One of them, Edward Corbett Owen, died suddenly in infancy in 1887. Their second son John Corbett Owen left his job in a Rhondda Valley bank to fight with the South Wales Borderers in the First World War. He was promoted to captain in 1916 and received the Military Cross for his bravery in 1917. He married a Red Cross nurse in February 1917. By then David Owen had died, aged 69, in January 1916. A few months later his widow relinquished the Cross Keys and sold its furniture.

There have been many tales of hauntings at the Cross Keys, including by a ghostly dog. The spirits of an old lady and her husband who once kept the inn are said to hover behind the bar, the lady’s keys sometimes jangling.

Postcode: LL40 1EY    View Location Map

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