A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II23 Vineyards
OS ref: ST750654
Tel: (01225) 425072
Real Ale: Yes
Real Cider: Yes
Nearby Station: Bath Spa
Station Distance: 1100m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Bath Spa) and Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
The Star occupies a Georgian terrace and was first licensed in the 1760s. What we see today is a wonderful survival from a refitting in 1928, when the pub was extended into half of no.22 next door by architect W.A.Williams (cf the Old Green Tree). It has scarcely altered since and consists of four rooms and an entrance lobby. On the left is an attractive panelled lounge, still with bell-pushes. To the right is a small snug with a long bench whose popularity with elderly customers has earned it the soubriquet ‘Death Row’. Note the vintage telephone positioned so that it could be used by both customers and staff. A timber screen separates the snug from the ‘Glass Room’, which has a fold-up slate shove ha’penny board. Finally comes the screened-off public bar in front of the servery where two casks of Bellringer are stillaged. This is the only pub in the South West using a very traditional way to serve beer – from the cask into a jug and then from the jug to your glass. Note the annunciator box at the back of the servery. The Star serves as the brewery tap for Abbey Ales of Bath.
The Star is a wonderful survival being an unpretentious town pub, which retains its five-room interior and fittings from 1928. First licensed in 1760s, it is set among the splendours of Bath's world famous Georgian architecture being in a late 18th century terrace. In 1928 it was extended by taking half of its neighbour 22 Vineyards. Outside it is a severe, plain building of four storeys, faced with smooth local stone. On the frontage is a late Victorian painted inscription that reads 'ALE. THE STAR INN. HOUSE'. Inside you meet a sequence of four rooms which were initially fitted out probably at the end of the 19th century. Then in 1928 it was refurbished by local architect, W.A. Williams with the work carried out by Gaskill & Chambers, famous for the supply of ‘beer engines’ (handpumps) to pubs throughout the land.
The main door with a figure ‘2' on the inside leads to a small lobby. To the left of this is a lounge which has a figure '1' on the door, parquet floor and with a rear alcove. This room has extensive panelling of 1928 including bell pushes and incorporating a wood surround fireplace with a mirror above and original upholstered bench seating. There are plans on the walls showing the creation of the left-hand room in 1928 and minor changes following war damage in 1942. Returning to the hall there are 'Bat Wing' doors leading to the ladies which is up a flight of stairs and next door leads to the modernised gents. The hallway has a leather seated settle and there is more fielded panelling on the walls.
To the right of the lobby is a doorway with a Bostwick iron grill gate permanently folded back leading to a small snug known as Death Mans Row. It has fixed seating along the street wall and a splendid small carved bar counter with no dispensers. High up on the left there is a telephone dating from 1920s which has three positions - 'To Call Exchange', 'Challenge Before Calling' and 'For Code Ringing'. High up on the front wall is the old bell box with three windows 'Lounge', 'Lounge Recess' and an unnamed one. Alongside nestled on a ledge are tins of snuff on sale and the pub offers customers a complimentary pinch of snuff. A timber screen with glazed panels above separates the snug from a small public room behind, which is known as the 'Glass Room'. This has a wonderful drop-down shove ha'penny board, an old stone fireplace, bench seating attached to the wall panelling around three sides and service is from the doorway to the bar.
A further screen with a row of six glazed panels in the top separates the Glass Room from the public bar which has a narrow door with the figure '4' on it. The servery is largely inter-war work with a good carved bar counter that has short screens on the right, and one on the left that forms a small office area. The bar back is, unusually, set at 90 degrees to the counter, and is a splendid wooden affair with leaded windows, bevelled mirror panels, two cigar cupboards and topped off with a clock. Note the doors to the cellar where landlords in the past would have transferred casks from the cellar to the bar area using a lift which rose through these doors. This small room has more fixed seating around three sides with baffles at each end and a splendid stone fireplace with carving above.
On the back wall of the servery are casks of Bellringer on individual stillage (these recently replaced draught Bass for which the pub is famous, which is no longer available in 18 gallon casks). This is one of only a handful of pubs left in the country where beer is still served in the time-honoured way from the cask into a glass jug and then from the jug into your glass. Other Heritage Pubs still using a jug to serve at least one real ale are the Barley Mow, Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire; Holly Bush, Makeney, Derbyshire; Anchor, High Offley, Staffordshire and Dyffryn Arms, Pontfaen, Pembrokeshire, West Wales; Falcon, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire; and Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay, Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
On the extreme right of the pub is a narrow corridor, now the darts room, which has the original entrance door on Vineyards accessed via a flight of seven stone steps. There is a leather covered bench and note the door to the right with door protectors that was the serving hatch for outdoor sales. The darts board is usually situated high up the wall so you have to bring it down to play! On the first floor there was formerly a clubroom that had a snooker table at one time. Now it is an office for Abbey Ales, a move that helped to secure this wonderful pub for future generations along with turning the top two stories into flats. In Bath Pubs by Kirsten Elliott & Andrew Swift (Akeman Press, 2002), the Star is described as “a national treasure” and adds “it looks like pubs used to look before they were Red Barrelised, made over, departitioned, Laura Ashleyfied, fruit-machined, nitro-kegged, alco-popped, Al Caponed, distressed, bamboozled or just plain ******ed up.” It continues “ In 1991 the interior was under severe threat, as reported in the Bath Chronicle ‘the Star, in the Paragon, unchanged for more than 100 years, may now lose most of its drinking space in favour of offices in a deal between owners Bass Brewery and a London based property company which hopes to buy the site for offices, then lease back the ground floor to Bass. Under the scheme all the wood panelled rooms would go – reducing the pub to one room instead of five. rooms above would also become office space.”. Bath Pubs, continues “But thanks to all those who fought to preserve the Star, including landlord, Alan Perrett, Bass was foiled in its bid to destroy a piece of Bath’s heritage as important, in its own way, as the Abbey and the Roman Baths.”