Sunday 27th January 2013
It would be almost impossible to walk past this pub without noticing its exterior decor. The outside is almost totally covered in ceramic-clad bricks of several shades. There are also some fantastic ceramic scroll signs at mid level. The doors are painted green and match the rest of the ensemble. Also of note is the Welsh slate roof. It location is on the edge of the Castlefield district and interestingly, it is just three or four minutes walk from another pub with a classic interior, the Briton's Protection. The interior of the Peveril of the Peak is as equally traditional, as I will attempt to illustrate.
Firstly though, there needs to be an explanation of the very unusual name. To explain it fully we need to go all the way back to just after William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066.
Shortly after this a fort was established at Castleton in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire. This was to evolve into a castle and in 1176 King Henry 11 completed the keep and named it after one of William's favourite knights, William Peverel.
That would have been the end of the matter but for Sir Walter Scott writing his longest novel in 1823 entitled "Peveril of the Peak". This was set in 1678 during the period of the English Civil War and studies the relationships between several characters on both sides. The Cavalier side is represented by Sir Geoffrey Peveril and his son. They are from the Peak District and the connection with Peveril Castle is obvious. The book was amazingly popular with the public and around the same time a new Stagecoach was introduced between Manchester and London completing the journey in an unprecedented twenty-three hours. Cashing in on the book and the fact that it went through the Peak District, although not past Peveril Castle, it was called Peveril of the Peak.
The pub was also built at the same time, the 1820s, (said to be 1829, but not confirmed) and it is even said that the Stagecoach owner constructed it but there is no evidence of this. The name was probably just another piece of exploitation. Nor is there any evidence that the stage started from here as there is a poster in the pub that clearly states it picked up elsewhere in Manchester. In 1900 the pub had an extensive rebuilding and this is when the exterior and interior we see today dates from.
On the day of my visit Linda and I entered through the Chepstow Street entrance. We did go into the main bar room, but mainly to check the beers on offer. The pub is deltoid in shape and the bar counter in this room adopts the same shape to match the exterior configuration of the building. Above the counter is a kind of screen that hides shelves for glass storage. This is not from ca 19.00 as it was added in the early 1980s by Wilson's Brewery, then the owners. However it is well made and if wasn't for the different colour of the wood you wouldn't notice. All the wall seating in this bar is original.
Once we knew what beers we were going to have we went back to the corridor where there is a small serving counter and ordered them there. We repaired to the Smoke Room which I'd not been in before. It's really comfortable and has a lovely cast iron fireplace with a marble surround. Other features we noticed were the bell pushes for the one-time waiter service and a magnificent mirror presented to the landlady by CAMRA Trafford & Hulme Branch to commemorate her forty years in charge of the pub. It was given in January 2011.
The other rear lounge is also worth looking at with its fixed seating and wooden tables. It is separated from the corridor by a really beautiful stained glass screen.
The beers offered were Caledonian (Edinburgh) Deuchars IPA (3.8%), Everard's (Narborough, Leics) Tiger Bitter (4.2%), Jennings (Cockermouth, Cumbria) Cumberland Bitter (4.0%) and Copper Dragon (Skipton, Yorks) Golden Pippin (3.9%). This is the permanent range, there being no guest beers. Personally, that is no problem as they are all reasonable beers.
So, should you want to have a drink in timeless surroundings then this pub comes highly recommended.
The Peveril of the Peak, 127 Great Bridgwater Street, Castlefield, Manchester M1 5JQ
Tel: 0161 236 6364
Open: Monday to Saturday 11.30-23.00; Sunday 11.00-23.00.
Please note: The opening times of this pub seem to have changed a lot over recent years. We believe that those stated here are the most accurate at the time of writing (Feb 2013). Please advise if they are wrong.
The pub is within five minutes walk of St Peters Square Metrolink (Tram) station
and is about five from Oxford Road station for trains on National Railways.
There are many local buses in the area.