Yes, you read that correctly. Rumour has it that the front door of The Hatchet Inn, beneath the layers of black paint, is covered in human skin. In particular, the skin is said to have belonged to executed convicts. But how did it get there and is there any truth to the claim? Well, there’s no real evidence supporting it actually. But no one has examined the door intensely enough to disprove it either. (We’re sure the owners probably prefer it that way.)
Dating back to 1606, although claiming to be established circa 1500s, The Hatchet Inn is undoubtedly the oldest-running pub in Bristol. It is said to be named after the axes of woodsmen that used to visit from the nearby Clifton Woods. We’re sure a lot of strange things have happened inside its wall across its 400-year history. Another persistent rumour is that the pub was a favourite haunt of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. We can imagine some pretty gruesome stuff that happened while he was around.
Later, during the 18th century, The Hatchet Inn became notorious for housing some pretty violent sports. There was a cock-fighting ring, a rat pit for rodent teasing and also a popular place for bare-knuckle boxing. Both English champions Jem Belcher and Henry Pearce built their reputations at the pub.
While all that might make the Hatchet Inn feel rather intimidating, it’s actually a very friendly and welcoming pub these days. It sits right next to the O2 Academy Bristol, so is a popular haunt for gig-goers looking for a pre-show pint. You’ll also find Banksy’s Well Hung Lover a stone’s throw away too. So it’s a pretty popular area.
Inside, you’ll find all the familiar trappings of a proper boozer (good food, even better pints), but don’t expect some musky, empty place. Regular alternative rock club nights and screenings of most sporting events keep it relevant. As does the upstairs pool table and carvery roast!
It’s still one of Bristol’s most popular pubs after all these centuries for a reason. So whether or not The Hatchet Inn’s front door really does contain human skin, doesn’t actually matter. It’s not this rumour that has helped it stay open for 400 years. To learn more head here.