Black Boy Inn logo above
The Black Boy Inn (or just Black Boy) in the Royal Town of Caernarfon in Gwynedd,Wales is a hotel and public house which is thought to date back to 1522, making it one of the oldest surviving inns inNorth Wales. It is within the medieval walls of Caernarfon, a few hundred yards fromCaernarfon Castle. Formerly the ‘King’s Arms’ and the ‘Fleur de Lys’, one landlord bought the other out and created the Black Boy Inn as it is today. Prior to 1828, the ‘King’s Arms’ was known as the ‘Black Boy’. The Inn signs each show a ‘black buoy’ on one side and a ‘black boy’ on the other. The Inn’s name has caused controversy and there are least three theories to explain its name. One is believed to come from a ‘black buoy’ which existed in the harbour in the early days of the Inn. Another refers to the nickname given to Charles II by his mother because of the darkness of his skin and eyes, as well as the fact that Royalists met at the Inn secretly at that time. Later, the place became the local fishermen’s favourite drinking place and the name of ‘black boy’ may come from this period.
Sketch of the early Black Boy Inn
In Caernarfon’s heyday as a port-town, Northgate Street – on which the Black Boy Inn is situated – was the heart of the red-light district. Northgate Street’s Welsh nameStryd Pedwar a Chwech translates to “Four [shillings] and Six [pence] Street”: what the sailors are reputed to have paid for a room, a bottle of gin, and the services of a woman for the night. The ‘North Gate’ archway found at the end of Northgate Street was added in or about the 1820s. It was designed to help facilitate the flow of traffic in and out of the old town, and is not part of the original town wall design. Prior to the ‘North Gate’ archway, a census carried out in 1794 revealed this street was commonly referred to as ‘Black Boy’ street. The earliest reference to the “Black Boy” can be found in Caernarfon’s archives dated 1717, a Deed of Sale of a house in “Street Y Black Boy” between Thomas Wynne, Glynllifon and a Henry Robyns. The ghost of a nun is said to pass through the inn on her way to a nunnery that was once situated at the rear.
The Black Boy Inn is one of the few remaining free houses owned by an independent family business in the United Kingdom. In 1990 an archaeological excavation was carried out alongside the Black Boy Inn. Archaeologists discovered the skeleton of an old woman, believed to have been buried there to save the expense of a funeral. During restoration work in 2009 workmen uncovered a range of relics underneath the dining room floorboards. The collection included a child’s shoe, clay pipes, and a coin thought to date back to 1860. Upstairs rooms unveiled old beams which are thought to come from old sailing ships. In 2008 and 2009, the Black Boy Inn was presented with the Cask Marqueaward for its cask ales. It is also included in CAMRA’s 2010 edition of its annual Good Beer Guide, which features the best real ale venues in the United Kingdom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Boy_Inn
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charles II and his Reign
1. Commissioned by Charles II, Frances Stewart’s
portrait was immortalised as the symbol for
Britannia, complete with helmet and trident, and
was used on British coinage for three centuries
until decimalisation in 1971.
2. Barbara Villiers, Charles II’s greediest mistress, was
given St James’s Park and Green Park in London to
add to her fortune. She tried to add Phoenix Park in
Dublin to this list but was prevented from doing so
by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
3.The Dutch gave Charles II one of their New
World territories (New Amsterdam). Charles
renamed it New York, after his brother, the Duke
4. Charles II was responsible for the foundation of
the Royal Greenwich Observatory in 1675.
Designed by Christopher Wren, it was established
to provide navigational information to sailors.
5.The Royal Hospital for war veterans at Chelsea
was founded by Charles II. It was Nell Gwynn who
campaigned for a hospital for war veterans after
coming across an old soldier begging in the street.
The building was designed by Christopher Wren
and the foundation stone was laid in 1682 by the
6. Queen Catharine was responsible for
popularising tea-drinking in England.When she first
arrived in Portsmouth on 13 May 1662, she asked
for a cup of tea.This baffled the English as the drink
was barely known at this time; the national
beverage was ale.
7. On Charles’s Restoration, cultural life blossomed
after years of Puritan repression, and actresses
appeared on the professional stage for the first
time in the history of English theatre.This, like
many others, was an innovation brought from
France by Charles’s returning courtiers.
8. Pubs across England called The Black Boy are
generally named after Charles. It was an early
nickname for him (coined by his mother) because of the darkness of his skin and eyes.
9. Charleston in South Carolina was named after
Charles II. In April 1670, colonists landed on the
Western bank of the Ashley River, five miles from
the sea, and named the settlement Charles Town in
10. Charles is often credited with popularising both
Champagne-drinking and yachting in England. His
first racing yacht was called Jamie after his
illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, and his last
was called Fubbs, his nickname for his mistress,
Louise de Kéroualle. Fubbs is an old English word