Set deep in the evocative Royal Borough of Caernarfon, the Black Boy Inn, one of North Wales’s oldest inns, has welcomed weary travellers for centuries.”
Prior to 1828, the ‘King’s Arms’ was known as the ‘Black Boy’” with “The ‘King’s Arms’ previously known as the ‘Black Boy’, was later bought out by the ‘Fleur de Lys’ to create the Black Boy Inn as we know it today.”
Located in Northgate Street, the Black Boy Inn is one of the few remaining free houses owned by an independent family business in the United Kingdom. It has load bearing walls of up to one and a half metres thick, and four exterior signs each showing a ‘black buoy’ on one side and a ‘black boy’ on the other.
Theories about the name range from a visiting black boy, a local navigational buoy, and the nickname of Charles II used by Royalists who met there secretly.”
In the olden days, Northgate Street was the heart of Caernarfon’s red-light district. It was known as “Stryd Pedwar a Chwech” in Welsh, which translates to “Four and Six Street.” In today’s money, that’s about 22 pence, and for that not-so-princely sum, you could supposedly get a room, a bottle of gin, and the company of a young lady for the night!
From Northgate Street, you have a great view of the town’s sentry wall, towers, and well-preserved stone stairs. These stairs double the thickness of the wall! It’s hoped that one day, you’ll be able to walk along this section of the wall all the way to the Eastgate gatehouse.
The archway at the end of Northgate Street is a 19th-century addition. It was built to help with traffic flow in and out of the old town and wasn’t part of the original town wall design.
So, if you’re ever in Caernarfon, be sure to check out Northgate Street. It’s a fascinating place with a rich history.
From this street there is a good view of the town’s sentry wall, towers and well-preserved stone stairs which have the effect of doubling the wall’s thickness. It is hoped that eventually it will be possible to walk this section of the wall as far as the Eastgate gatehouse.
The archway at the end of Northgate Street is a 19th century addition to help facilitate the flow of traffic in and out of the old town, and was not part of the original town wall design.
Caernarfon’s Black Boy Inn isn’t just a charming 16th-century pub, it’s a treasure trove of history whispers and intriguing finds. Beneath the bustling dining room floorboards, curious relics rest – a child’s shoe, the echo of forgotten puffs from clay pipes, and even gnawed animal bones. These unearthed snippets whisper of lives lived, and secrets kept within the Inn’s walls.
For the archaeological enthusiast, Caernarfon offers a feast beyond the pub. Within the town walls, the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust digs delve into the past, unearthing stories waiting to be told. These ongoing excavations offer a glimpse into the town’s vibrant past, layer by layer.
But the Black Boy Inn holds another kind of fascination – the spectral whisper of a nun. Legend tells of her ghostly form gliding through the Inn, seeking her way back to the long-gone nunnery that once stood behind the building. Does she search for solace, or perhaps warn of secrets yet to be unearthed?
Whether you’re drawn to the tangible remnants of history or the whispers of the unseen, Caernarfon’s Black Boy Inn promises an experience that transcends a simple pub visit. It’s a journey through time, where the present brushes against the echoes of the past, leaving you wondering what hidden stories might lie just beneath the surface.
The Mighty South Gate of Caernarfon
The South Gate, also known as the Gate of Pebls, was the grand entrance to the medieval walled town of Caernarfon in North Wales. Built around 1283 as part of King Edward I’s ambitious project to conquer and control Wales, it was the most carefully guarded of the town’s four gates.
A Fortified Gateway
Originally, the South Gate boasted an external barbican and a wooden drawbridge, which could be raised to thwart attackers. The drawbridge was later replaced by a fixed six-arched bridge-way, which still stands today. The gatehouse itself is a formidable two-story structure, with thick walls and arrow slits.
A Centre of Power and Administration
The rooms above the gateway served as the Exchequer for the counties of Caernarfon, Anglesey, and Merioneth, from 1284 to 1542. This was the administrative and financial centre for the region, and the Exchequer played a vital role in collecting taxes and managing the king’s finances in Wales. The town’s curfew bell was also originally housed here, reminding inhabitants to be inside the town walls by 8 pm or face being locked out until the next morning.
From Clock Tower to Lock-Up
At one point, a large gas-light illuminated clock with four faces adorned the high tower of the South Gate. However, it had to be removed in the 19th century because it was confusing ships trying to navigate their way into the harbour at night. In the 1830s, the gatehouse was used as a lock-up and watch house, holding prisoners and keeping a watchful eye over the town.
From Guild Hall to Heritage Site
In 1767, the upper floors of the South Gate were converted into a town guild hall, where the local guild of merchants and craftsmen met. The gatehouse underwent further alterations in 1833 and 1873, as commemorated by a slate tablet set into the archway entrance.
Today, the South Gate is a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into the town’s medieval past. There are plans to convert the gatehouse into a heritage site and town museum, which would further enhance its role as a keeper of Caernarfon’s rich history.