George Henry Borrow was an idiosyncratic English author who wrote novels and travelogues based on his own experiences around Europe. Over the course of his
wanderings, he developed a close affinity with the Romani people and they figure prominently in his work. In 1854, he stayed here in the Pied Bull prior to embarking on his famous walking tour of
Wales. He recorded his experiences in his book Wild Wales (1862) in which he describes the commencement of his
"On arriving at Chester at which place we intended to spend two or three days, we put up at an old-fashioned inn in Northgate Street, to which we had been recommended". Borrow was a man who liked his beer and in his best known book, the autobiographical Lavengro, he declares: "Oh, genial and gladdening is the power of good ale, the true and proper drink of Englishmen! He is not deserving of the name of Englishman who speaketh against ale, that is good ale..." Unfortunately in Chester he was disappointed with both the ale and the Cheshire cheese which: "had the appearance of soap of the commonest kind" His recourse was to open the inn window and eject "the half masticated morsel into the street". The ale was instantly spirited out in the same fashion.
But it wasn't all bad: "Upon the whole we found ourselves very comfortable in the old-fashioned inn, which was kept by a nice old-fashioned gentlewoman, with the assistance of three servants". He was particularly taken with one of the chamber maids who had pretty eyes and who spoke lilting Welsh which he was charmed by but: "was quite unable to understand..."
The Pied Bull is a traditional coaching Inn located near the centre of Chester on the west side of Northgate Street. Dating from 1155, this lovely old timber frame pub is the oldest licensed house in the city still serving beer. In 1533 it was known as the 'Bull Maison' because of its proximity to the Old Beast Market. In 1784 it is recorded that one John Paul was running a regular four horse coach service from here to Birkenhead. Today there is a cosy snug off the pillared entrance and a roomy open-plan bar beyond with an attractive mix of individual furnishings. There is a selection of real ales and wide choice of reasonably priced food served all day.