163-165, High St, Berkhamsted
The Five Bells Inn was a popular public house on Berkhamsted High Street, possibly dating from the 17th century.
In the 19th century, the inn was a popular drinking hole for navvies, brought into the town by the canal and the railway. The Five Bells inn gained quite a reputation and is said to have been notorious for bouts between bare-fisted fighters in the yard behind the inn. Picture the scene — full of ale, the town’s ruffians knocking seven bells out of each other at the Five Bells.
In 1839, the landlord of the Five Bells was Stephen Holloway (1788-1866), a Berkhamsted builder and property developer, who lies buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery. Holloway was a well-known citizen in the town, at the centre of social networks and hosting charity events. The Five Bells was the home of the town band, which included nearly all the known instruments of the day and was sustained by the principal tradesmen on the town.
The pub’s insalubrious reputation was eventually its downfall; in the 1860 it was reported that “the landlord did not know how to do his duty and assist the police on the occasion of a lot of navvies making a disturbance in it”. The innkeeper lost his alcohol licence and the Five Bells closed.
The building still stands today on Berkhamsted High Street, next to the 1930s Civic Centre. It has seen many changes of use: in 1949 it became Norman Clarke’s electrical shop (Weatherhead’s from 1966), selling televisions and refrigerators; the premises later became a restaurant, Nicholl’s Brasserie. In 2006 it turned into Eat Fish, a high-class seafood restaurant, and today this is a branch of Bill’s Restaurants.
What's connected with this location
1 burial in Rectory Lane Cemetery is linked with Five Bells — click on a burial below to find out more about the historical connections: