EXCLUSIVE: Gloucestershire’s oldest pub set to reopen in 2023

A secret underground staircase uncovered in the restoration of Tewkesbury’s Black Bear pub will feature when doors reopen and there’s a sneak preview of the revamped riverside garden at Tewkesbury Live for summer 2022.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Drinkers will get to enjoy The Black Bears outdoor area from Friday 22 July to Sunday 24 July 2022, as it hosts Tewkesburys new live music festival.
Drinkers will get to enjoy The Black Bear’s outdoor area from Friday 22 July to Sunday 24 July 2022, as it hosts Tewkesbury’s new live music festival.

It’s thought to be the oldest pub in Gloucestershire and one of the oldest in the UK. Now, after being boarded up for years, The Black Bear in Tewkesbury is being brought back to life.

It has taken years of planning disputes and 18 months of painstaking restoration, but The Black Bear is steadily getting ready to reopen its doors by early 2023.

The labour of love poured into the independent pub, built in 1308, is the work of 28-year-old furniture maker Luke Haynes, who bought it from Greene King in 2017.

With his team of 10 labourers, he’s jumped through every historic planning loop placed before him, working throughout the pandemic to restore the pub to its former glory, and is on course to welcome drinkers in the new year.

It’s been a journey of discovery, as along the way he uncovered a secret staircase below the pub.

Tewkesbury rumours have it that there was once an underground tunnel connecting The Black Bear to Tewkesbury Abbey – almost a mile away.

The secret stairs will now be covered with glass panels, so drinkers in the bar can see them and undoubtedly spark conversations on the pub’s past.

The sizable pub at the end of Tewkesbury High Street, which can accommodate 300 drinkers outside and 200 inside, will feature natural stone and wooden floors, restored beams and pastel walls of green, blue and terracotta clay, once work is complete.

Ahead of the pub’s 2023 reopening, a new outdoor oak terrace and riverside seating area will be opened to the public for Tewkesbury Live festival in July 2022.

The live music event, held at 10 pubs across the town, will run from Friday 22 July to Sunday 24 July 2022.

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