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Black Castle, Bristol

Visited September 2023

Location Bristol
Entrance Fee No- but currently a pub
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Bristol Temple Meads
Parking Yes
Facilities Pub


This folly castle is actually operating as a pub these days, but at one time it was the stables to the nearby Arnos Court , which is now a hotel. The castle is also a local landmark in Bristol, with its distinctive black brickwork made from the remains of black copper, which came from the copper foundry of William Reeve; the builder and owner of Arnos Court.






As well as the stables the castle contained estate offices and some recreation rooms. Nearby stood a bath house, which had a colonnade in front of it. Damaged by bombing in WW2 the colonnade fell into disrepair and was eventually demolished and taken to Portmeirion in Wales, where it was reconstructed as part of Clough Williams-Ellis' village. This at least saved the colonnade for the nation but it is a shame that the authorities of Bristol did not try to save it situ for the city. 


There was also a triumphal arch which formed the the gatehouse to the black castle. It was decorated with replica  statues of Edward I & III,  Robert of Gloucester, the builder of Bristol Castle, and  Bishop Geoffrey de Montbray who built the city walls which once fortified Bristol. 


This arch still survives but was moved in 1912 about 100 metres from his original position outside the castle, to its current position which is unfortunately very close to a major road, the A4. The whole area around the castle and arch has been re-developed and the buildings now sit surrounded by a supermarket car park and dual carriageway: a long way from the rural setting on the outskirts of Bristol that the estate enjoyed when it was originally built in the 1700s.






The castle itself is built in a courtyard style, with four round towers on each corner. The black bricks used to build the castle are offset by white bricks which are used decoratively to form crosses and faux arrow slits.  The courtyard is used as an outdoor area for the pub, and is very pleasant. We wandered into the courtyard on the day we visited and took some photos , and no one from the pub seemed to mind. 





As we didn't actually go into the pub and sample its delights I cannot say what the hospitality is like but it seems to have a good reputation locally. It is a shame it is situated in a Sainsbury's car park but it makes it easier to get to and park at least.


Once you have looked at the castle, we recommend a trip to nearby Arnos Vale . This Victorian cemetery has some wonderful monuments including one for Raja Rammohun Roy, a social and religious reformer from Calcutta who died in Bristol whilst on a visit in 1833. His tomb is one of the most impressive in the cemetery, which these days is also a tourist attraction and has a small museum, cafe, shop and wildlife trail for children. 


Please be careful when walking around the area as there are some very busy roads surrounding the castle and adjacent sites. 




More info:  Black Castle

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