The Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon

Link to French translationThe Black Boy Inn, Northgate Street, Caernarfon

This building was two neighbouring inns, the King’s Arms and the Fleur de Lys, until a landlord bought out his rival and created one large pub.

Some sources say the oldest parts date back to the 1520s. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales says the inn was built in stages, all probably during the 17th century, and is a rare surviving building from this period in the walled town of Caernarfon. The well-preserved early interior detail is also notable.

Why “The Black Boy”? Nobody knows for certain. It was the name of one of the original pubs here before 1828, when the name was changed to the King’s Arms. One possibility is that it was named after a dark-skinned youngster who arrived in Caernarfon on a ship, in an era when few Welsh people – sailors apart – would have seen many people of foreign enthicity. Another suggestion is that the inn was named after a black buoy which marked the route for vessels coming in to Caernarfon harbour.

Historian WH Jones noted in 1881 that Northgate Street was formerly known as Black Boy Street

In 1916 Mrs Rowe of the King’s Arms was informed that her son Alfred, a stoker on HMS Arabis, was in a German prisoner of war camp. Her husband was also serving in the Royal Navy. Earlier in the First World War, in October 1914 she was one of many women in the district who collectively donated 120 blankets for soldiers.

Northgate Street was where sailors could find the red-light district. It was nicknamed Stryd Pedwar a Chwech (“Four and Six Street”), which some say refers to the price (4s 6d) of a room complete with a bottle of gin and a female companion.

There have been many stories of ghosts in the Black Boy. One of the spirits is known as the strangler, as it’s said to manifest itself with a feeling of hands being placed around the neck. Another is said to be the ghost of a nun. 

Postcode: LL55 1RW    View Location Map

Website of the Black Boy Inn

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