Bear and Billet

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The Bear and Billet with the Dee Mills, the Bridgegate and the Old Dee Bridge. The Dee Mill burnt down several times and was demolished shortly after a final fire in 1895.
This structure is on the Millennium festival trail.

The Bear and Billet was built in 1664 as the Bridge Street town house of the Earls of Shrewsbury who held the hereditary serjeancy of the nearby Bridgegate and also claimed to be Lords of the Manor in Hoole. It was possibly, given its proximity to the Dee Mills used as a grain warehouse (in the gable are double doors and a bracket for a hoist). The building became an inn in the 18th century, although it continued to be owned by the Shrewsbury family until 1867. Its name is taken from the heraldic device of the Earls that consist of a bear tied to a billet (or stake). In the Batenham illustration it is called the "Bridgegate Tavern". The pub is also the birthplace of Beatles’ legend John Lennon’s grandmother.

The building is constructed in timber framing with plaster panels. It consists of cellars (but no undercroft), above which are three storeys and an attic in the gable overlooking the street. Each storey is jettied above the storey below. On the ground floor are two doors, one to the south and the other placed more centrally. To the right of each door is a three-light window. At the base of the first floor are 16 rectangular timber framed plaster panels. Above these is a window occupying the whole width of the facade and divided into 32 lights separated by mullions and transoms and containing leaded lights.

In the second floor storey are 12 arched timber framed panels. The window above these is similar to that in the first floor. Over this window is a row of 12 square decorated timber-framed panels. The jettied beam to the attic storey is inscribed "16:HH:64" and has a running vine pattern. It is rumoured (but by no means confirmed) that the front of the Bear and Billet contains well over 1664 individual panes of glass. In the attic is a double timber door surrounded by panels. On each side of this door, and above it, are two-light windows containing leaded lights. In the apex of the gable is herringbone timber framing. The bargeboard is carved and has a finial at its peak.


The Bear and Billet is said to be haunted by friendly old lady who greets visitors and then disappears.