The Bell Inn, Winchester

Bell tweaked 2
The Bell Inn. Photo © Stephen 2014

Note: the following comments were written in August 2014. Since then the Bell has changed hands yet again. The ‘new landlady’ referred to below is not the one who is now running the pub.

The Bell Inn, on the southern edge of the city of Winchester, is that increasingly rare thing – a genuine local with wide appeal and a pleasant atmosphere. I first got to know the Bell over thirty years ago, and it was one of  the nicest pubs in Winchester. With lovely Marston’s Bitter and a super set of regulars, it was my home from home for a decade. But then Alan Riggs, who made the pub what it was, decided to move on, at just the time when Marston’s were losing the plot and chucking out decent tenants in a bid to prove that an unmotivated manager can ruin any pub. So I took my custom elsewhere. I’ve been in from time to time over the ensuing twenty years, but what I’ve found has not encouraged me to make a habit of it – until now [August 2014]. A new landlady [not the one who took over in late 2015] has been turning the pub around, and its star is in the ascendant again.

In addition to beers from Greene King, the Bell also sells ales from local micro-brewery Red Cat. Very nice they are too.

There’s a wide choice of food, from sandwiches and snacks to starters, main courses and desserts. The Bell also has the unusual benefit, for a city pub, of a good-sized car park and a garden.

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Garden of the Bell Inn. In the background is the Norman building of St Cross.

Behind the pub is the St Cross ‘hospital’, the oldest charitable institution in Britain. With its magnificent Norman chapel, it is well worth a visit. A short private road connects the pub and the hospital, so it’s easy to combine a visit to both.

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6 thoughts on “The Bell Inn, Winchester

  1. I read that they serve pigs cheeks in the restaurant. That’s an indicator of good unusual food. It’s quite rare to find it on any menu. I was lucky enough to find it once in France on my last trip.

      1. From “Trip Adviser”,
        “Came upon this lovely pub after turning off the M3 en route home Saturday afternoon. We had been re-directed/recommended from the sister pub The Queen, as they stopped serving full meals at 2.30 and could only offer sandwiches and chips. It was just a couple of minutes drive. We sat in the sunny garden and I was +++ delighted to find my favourite dish on the specials menu – Pig Cheeks slowly braised in cider. Served in a tarragon/cream sauce with mustard mash and mange touts, it couldn’t have been better. The OH had the red snapper, also beautifully cooked and served and both dishes were really good value for money. We were reluctant to order a bottle of wine as we still had quite a few miles to drive but were told we could take the unfinished bottle with us so were able to both enjoy a small glass with our meal and finish the bottle at home. Really good and friendly customer service and well worth breaking the journey up or down the M3.”

  2. After your excellent review, I will try it again!
    I fully endorse your comment about Alan, that good landlord of far off days.
    Thursdays evening always used to be full of Royal Observer Corps erks, from a nearby Post, and sometimes the local Drama group’s actors after rehearsals, and often a couple of Brothers.

    Oh happy days!

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