The Blue Bell is one of only a handful of pubs in England to have been awarded a Grade II* listing, and Camra’s Pub Heritage Group call it a national treasure. The main reason for the enhanced listing is the wonderful interior which dates from a 1903 refurbishment. This comprises a hallway which doubles as a narrow drinking lobby, a front public bar and a wood panelled smoke room at the back (photo 3). Most of the fittings are from the Edwardian refit, including bars, fireplaces, panelling and even tables. The restrained art nouveau of the glass in the smoke room door dates from this period as well (photo 2), and there is a matching glass panel in the door of the bar.
The pub has been a real ale champion for several years, with the house IPA from Brew York and Rudgate Ruby Mild always on tap along with up to five guest beers. The pub is very small and groups are discouraged at busy times.
The 17th century exterior (the red glazed brick was added in 1903) stands in a terrace on the ancient street of Fossgate which was once a Roman road (photo 1). The street is now full of independent shops and businesses and is marketed as Fossgate Merchants Quarter with a street-spanning metal sign a few metres from the Blue Bell (photo 4).
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