The Eldon House

Hello my Luv,

Mrs. Higgins here. Don’t you look lovely.

So I’m to tell you about the little do we had at the Eldon House pub back in April 2011, you know that charming little one just off Jacob’s Wells Road opposite the QEH Theatre.

We chatted to folk, we went to the records office, we read books and looked on the interweb  to see what we could unearth about the pub and it’s surrounding history. We shared some of what we found out on this blog here below. Feel free to add any extra tit bits you might know of…

We found out that the infamous scientist Thomas Beddoes has his practice near by where the pain relief qualities of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) were discovered and cow’s breath was thought to heal consumption, that Jacob’s Wells Road is named after a medieval Jewish that is still intact in the back of an office building at the bottom of Constitution Hill and that the Stranger’s Cemetery next door to the pub was for visitors to Bristol that died while visiting the Hot Wells in the 19th century . Oh and that the Eldon used to have one of the best jukeboxes in Bristol!

It was a lovely evening of music, stand up comedy, performance poetry and slightly surreal events occurring within the pub. Some lucky folk were whisked out of the pub on adventures either following a red thread of wool that led to the actual medieval Jewish well, or a chasing a woman in search of her lost cat into the Strangers Cemetery or helping a postman with deliveries of suspicious packages up to Thomas Beddoes’ laboratory.

Katie Dunn saving Wilma from becoming part of Thomas Beddoes’ experiment

The lovely folk that joined us for the evening were welcome to either sit back and enjoy the entertainment in the pub or get involved and follow an invitation to be led off on an adventure.

Kesty Morrison sings amid the trees

Lovely to see you, and hopefully see you all soon.

And if you see me at the bar always remember, mine’s a pint of Stella.

x Mrs. H


17 Responses to The Eldon House

  1. emmacallander says:

    Anna and Anna and I had an amazing day yesterday. We met with Graham Beddows, is a descendent of the infamous Dr. Thomas Beddoes who is buried in a currently unmarked grave in the strangers burial ground next door to the Eldon House. Here’s some more info on Dr. Beddoes Graham is the key holder of the cemetery so he opened the gates for us and showed us the Doctor’s grave whilst regaling us with tales of Beedow’s wife leading cows along alley ways to Clifton from the Downs to breath over sufferers of consumption in hope their cow breath would be a cure.

    Beddoes set up an institution for the purpose of investigating the medical powers of factitious airs and gases – where Humphrey Davy one of his colleges discovered the uses for nitrous oxide – laughing gas.

    Graham also told us stories of barrels of frogs ordered by Beddoes to test on being dropped on the dock of Bristol and smashing leading the authorities to believe that Beddoes was harbouring French refugees – as England was at war with France at that time.

    People would often come to the Hot Wells in the 17th century to the common disease tuberculosis.

    Those who died in Bristol who were not born here were buried in the strangers burial ground.

    Most of the surviving inscriptions begin with the word SACRED.

  2. Other snippets of info for inspiration so far are…

    The Eldon used to have a legendary punk jukebox – can anyone out there can remember any of their favourite tunes from it?

    A current regular has a dying fly impression he does when he’s had a few too many.

    There was an owl that lived on the outside loo until the extension got built.

    There is a medieval jewish well just down Jacob’s Wells road – hence the name Jacob – where the Jewish community would wash the bodies of the dead before burial.

    The pub used to be a house – but we’re still looking to find out when it changed to a pub…

    So that’s a start – who else has info they’ve found out…?

    • chris says:

      They did have a good jukebox , it was pretty eclectic in 1991 TBH. Only ones I can remember were:

      REM: Orange Crush
      Martha and the muffins : Echo Beach
      Orange Juice: Rip it up
      The Members : The Sound of the Suburbs
      It was always my favourite pub in the Jacobs Wells Rd area , as well as Aunties Bar when a great Landlord called Mac had it.

  3. An extract of a poem by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, son of Dr. Beddoes

    Squats on a toadstool under a tree
    a bodiless child full of life in the gloom
    Crying with frog voice What shall i be?
    Poor unborn ghost, for my mother knitted me
    Scarcely alive in her wicked womb.
    What shall I be? Shall I creep to the egg
    That’s craking asunder yonder by Nile.
    And with eighteen toes and a snuff taking nose
    Make an Egyptian crocodile?

    Catch a mummy by the leg
    And crunch him with an upper jaw.
    Wagging a tail and clenching claw.
    Take a bill-full from my craw.
    Neighbour raven, caw O caw,
    Grunt my cracky, pretty maw!
    And give a paw!

  4. Malcolm Hamilton says:

    Beddoes himself died a disappointed man. Writing on his deathbed, he penned a note to Davy: “Greetings from Dr. Beddoes, one who has scattered abroad the Avena Fatua [wild oats] of knowledge, from which neither branch nor blossom nor fruit has resulted.”

  5. malcolm hamilton says:

    Little theatre was based where the dance centre is now circa 1700s. It closed down after a riot spurred by an act not tuning up. The audience peltered fruit, then rocks at the actors and audience

  6. Malcolm Hamilton says:


    An elderly Scottish sign writer who painted the signs for the pub. The drink had got the better of him and quarrelled with his art. One hand was steady as iron and could paint the perfect circle. The other shook like a jib keeping tacked ad could barely keep his whiskey in the glass.

    One of the last ship carpenters in Bristol. Had worked on some great vessels over his life but now the industry had moved on. He passed on without an apprentice or heir and his craft accompanied him to his grave.

    There was a landlady who had umpteen cats, seven, eight or more. The pub was littered with them and in time the place began to reek of feline. Many an old local was put off, you could hardly smell the ashtrays for the moggins and she was moved on.

    There was, and perhaps still is a haberdashery next door ran by a woman in a wheelchair.

    There was a couple who ran the Eldon for a period ‘like a pub on a council estate’. Bingo, Karaoke, Poker, Quiz’s and a meat raffle.
    A couple who drank there had inherited a flat on Belleview. Odd couple, feisty, always arguing. Had a n air gun, their house was full of tropical fish tanks.

  7. Malcolm Hamilton says:


    When running the theatre at QEH David was informed that there would be police parked in the QEH car park on ‘a surveillance mission’. No other information was given. The Alms House between the Eldon and QEH had become a centre for drug addicts in remission so David assumed it was something to do with that, thought not too much on it and all ran as normal other than a lone police officer sat in his car each evening drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
    Three months later a removal van pulled up on Jacobswell Rd and a swarm of police unloaded and stormed the Eldon. It transpired the landlord had been dealing drugs from the premises for years.

    Eldon had been under Ushers Brewery, in the 80’s under Thatchers …… Law there was a move to separate pubs from Brewery’s. A landlord from Weston Super Mare took over, under a company called Introponeur?? He took Ushers to court due to the law. Essentially it became to hard to make any kind of living and he was going bust. The case became a Test Case against the law which I think was eventually overturned. Because of all; the red tape it was so difficult to make any money the landlord had to be more imaginative in his enterprise. He held lock ins and often bought beer from Cash and Carries. On some instances you would go to the pub and find there was no beer in the lines and folk would stand around drinking cans of Czech lager. He also tried holding BBQs but thee was very little room and in the cramped conditions accidental fires were often started.

    When it was a Gay bar it had a big rainbow flag on the front. Some students from QEH stole the flag and hung it on the school to replace their own flag.

  8. Malcolm Hamilton says:

    Eldon House

    Cosy pub, lots of inhabitants of Bellview would drink there. Two rooms. A funny entrance to the cellar-the access was through a small cupboard in the pub itself.

    Everyone used to sit at the bar.

    You’d go in for conversation.

    Extraordinary characters would pop in. older people would come in for a lunchtime pint and stay.

    It was a social amenity.

    It’s always struggled to keep going, particularity due to its size.

    In the early 90’s there were lots of students there, it was quite busy. They tried to make it a student pub but it always antagonised the locals.

    For a while there was a lot of music, it was filled with Irish folk musicians having the craic. Often it was so busy you would only be able to see through the hatch where the drinks could be served.

    Lots of music and poetry.

    It may have been named after Lord Eldon. There is an Elton Family in Cleavedon.

  9. Malcolm Hamilton says:

    The Little Theatre , the first proper theatre was where the dance centre is now. It was well situated as being outside the city walls, the police had to be fetched from Gloucester when there was trouble, which was a relatively regular occurrence!
    It was situated just under Brandon Hill next to the celebrated Malt Shovel where “ the company foregathered making an impromptu club room where they met theatre loving Bristolians.
    To get from SL to SR Actors had to go outside and run around the building. This became a spectacle
    in its own right and crowds would gather on Brandon Hill to watch the character dashing to their next cue.
    At the interval the audience wandered around Brandon hill.
    If the house was full and the Amphitheatre required there could be no scenery. In fact wt was always full so scenery was eliminated.
    “ the effect must have been very curios to English eyes. The actors and the audience were one, as in oriental theatres, this must have been fruitful for strange dramatic effects.”
    The Little Theatre was closed after a riot ‘in sympathy with an imaginary grievance’
    after an act failed to show up the audience threw rotten fruits and booed. This eventually escalated intro fighting. Rioters were ejected but they went onto Brandon hill and flung missiles and stones onto the roof of the theatre.
    “thus ended the history of this little house of dreams but the memory lives on, a fragrant flower in the poetry of dramatic art”
    the last performance was a Pantomime in 1779
    A lot of the triangle was bombed out in WWII

  10. Malcolm Hamilton says:

    Surrounding area.

    Bellview been there since…
    It went through hands of many developers often running out of money and sitting as a building site until a new financier or developer came along. In the 50’s and 60’s it was bohemian and run down, full of Jazz bars.
    Clifton Hill House nearby with impressive Georgian living room and Gardens.

    Behind Eldon House is Meridian Close, built by the ocean lines for sea captains, merchant navy admirals and high class of shipping in Bristol.

    Jacobswell Rd.

    Was the Jewish Quarter. It sits on an ancient Jewish burial ground.

    There are natural spring water wells under the road, accessible by the funny wee building opposite the Hope and Anchor.

    This area was just outside the city walls.

    An ale was brewed from the water at Hot Wells. It was reported to be ‘Wholesome against the spleen’

  11. Janet Adams says:

    I did an on-line search of Bristol Records Office and found that the building date is around 1866/7, and the alteration to a pub was filed on 16 December 1936 by Georges & Company.
    You can’t view the actual entries on-line (there are too many in each section for the search to work) but you can go to the records office and see them.
    Is that any use?

  12. Here’s some general info on consumption (TB) that relates to Beddowes’ research into the disease that I found interesting.
    In the past, tuberculosis has been called consumption, because it seemed to consume people from within, with a bloody cough, fever, pallor, and long relentless wasting. Before the Industrial Revolution, tuberculosis may sometimes have been regarded as vampirism. When one member of a family died from it, the other members that were infected would lose their health slowly. People believed that this was caused by the original victim draining the life from the other family members. Furthermore, people who had TB exhibited symptoms similar to what people considered to be vampire traits. People with TB often have symptoms such as red, swollen eyes (which also creates a sensitivity to bright light), pale skin, extremely low body heat, a weak heart and coughing blood, suggesting the idea that the only way for the afflicted to replenish this loss of blood was by sucking blood.
    Another folk belief told that the affected individual was being forced, nightly, to attend fairy revels, so that the victim wasted away owing to lack of rest; this belief was most common when a strong connection was seen between the fairies and the dead.

  13. Tom Wainwright says:

    I had a quick chat with Rab at the Eldon House. Nothing startling but some details that might be nice do drop in….They still get gay promos now even though it stopped being a gay bar 8 years ago. He was a bit embarrassed but mentioned poppers a bit. He had to throw out a sex pest once he kept touching the girl he was chatting up – but that happens up and down the country. A regular does a dead fly impression – called Jon Callaghan. There is a quiz on a monday nigh run by Mason – everyone else calls him Olly. Bands solo singers they have include Gimme Hendrix Experience, Dos Yankies and a guy called Shadowman. Other regulars include Jed (he and Jon are “luvvies” apparently. Mike is a porter at the uni. 70 but looks younger. Linden is a very short, apparently very nice guy. Agata lives upstairs and is doing a phd in philosophy. Rab drank there thirty years ago and it was well known you could pick up there (That is not the case now though!)

  14. Emma Callander says:

    Juicy info on one of Bristol best kept archeological secrets…

    …a medieval jewish well that gave Jacob’s Well’s road its name.

  15. Anna Barrett says:

    milk diet:

    The chief therapeutic agent needed for the treatment of tuberculosis is calcium. Milk is the richest food source for the supply of organic calcium to the body and should be taken liberally. In fact an exclusive milk diet is considered highly valuable in tuberculosis. However, a preparatory fast for three days, consisting of raw juices, preferably, orange juice, is essential before the milk diet is begun. The procedure is to take half a glass of orange juice diluted with an equal quantity of water every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For the full milk diet, the patient should have a glass of milk every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first day, followed by a glass and a half every hour on the second day. Thereafter, the quantity can be gradually increased until the patient takes a glass every half an hour. Usually, six liters of milk should be taken every day. In the case of women, five liters should be sufficient. Raw milk, that is, milk, which has not been pasteurized, produces the best results, provided it is clean and pure. Milk should be kept cool and away from dust, flies, odors, and sunlight. It should be gently stirred before use to ensure an even distribution of cream. It should be sipped very slowly so as to be thoroughly mixed with saliva which dilutes it and, to a great extent, promotes its digestion. Nearly eight to six weeks of a full milk diet is necessary for the success of the treatment. A considerable amount of rest is necessary with a milk diet and the patient should lie down for about two hours twice a day.

    Green Tea:

    22 October 2007 – A green tea and TB study conducted by Lucknow University found that it can efficiently fight tuberculosis (TB).

    “Our studies, followed by clinical trials on animals, have shown that green tea is immensely beneficial for TB patients.A variety of compounds found in green tea can fight Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes the disease,” said Professor M K Misra of Biochemistry department.

    The researchers said toxins produced in a TB-infected mice showed a considerable fall after they had been administered green tea extract for seven days.

    “It was heartening to see the level of antioxidants, which had been lowered by the infection, revert to near-normal levels,” said the researchers, who were assisted by doctors of CSMMU during the clinical studies.

    The researchers explained that during the infection Mycobacterium Tuberculosis targets the blood cells in the human body, lowering its immune system. This, in turn, triggers formation of several toxins inside the body. Green tea extracts control the growth of bacterium, helping the human body’s immune system to recover gradually.

  16. Licence transferred from James Hale to C L Nash January 1877

    Harry Beaven was Landlord .from around 1895 to 1925. Then his daughter Ellen (Nellie) became landlady at the age of 20 for about two years. Harry Beaven was also a builder with a workshop in Constitution Hill. The Eldon House was an Ashton Gate Brewery pub. (information kindly supplied by Mr L H Beaven (grandson of Harry Beaven)).

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