Rose Villa Tavern

West Midlands - Birmingham

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

172 Warstone Lane
Birmingham, Hockley
B18 6JW

Tel: (0121) 236 7910



Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: Jewellery Quarter

Station Distance: 250m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Jewellery Quarter) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This 1919-20 pub was designed by Mitchells & Butlers' regular architects, Wood & Kendrick, and is in a style interestingly poised between florid late-Victorian taste and the simpler architecture of the post-war years. The significant internal changes make it now possible to circumnavigate the central servery. The extensive tilework by Carters of Poole is the star attraction though. It is at its most dramatic in the small room behind the servery with its floor-to-ceiling tiling and embellishments round the inglenook fireplace; the tile painting over the fireplace and the stained glass in the skylight are also endearing. Plenty of tiling, also, in the main front bar, including panels depicting scantily-clad damsels (there are two more in the former off-sales passage but the use of the area for storage makes them difficult to view). The exterior window glass, too, is a highlight with its colourful representations of galleons (a long way from the sea here). The pub reopened in 2011 after refurbishment which added various contemporary design features for better or worse.

Prominently sited in the heart of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, the pub was built in 1919-20 for Mitchells & Butlers by their regular architects, Wood & Kendrick. It is an interesting building which is a kind of half-way house between the florid late Victorian and Edwardian pub on one hand, and the much simpler architecture of the inter-war period. The red brick exterior is a stripped version of the richly ornamented turn-of-the-twentieth-century Birmingham public house, but inside there is an extensive display of splendid tilework by Carters of Poole with dark green and buff predominating including 7 tiled paintings of classical maidens – possibly the finest display of Carters tilework in a pub? Other magnificent displays of tiled paintings can be found at Café Royal, Edinburgh, Scotland; Mountain Daisy, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear; General Havelock, Hastings, East Sussex; Central Bar, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland; St James Tavern, Soho, London W1 Dolphin, Hackney, London E8; and Golden Cross, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales.

The most impressive part is the rear snug accessed from the right hand passageway via an impressive ceramic archway of buff tiles and faience or from the rear left hand room through a lobby with tiled walls of mainly light green and some buff ones and via a similar but smaller archway. This small room has floor to ceiling tiled walls topped by a frieze of urns and flowers and a superb ceramic inglenook fireplace featuring tiles and faience including a deep relief arch incorporating a ceramic head. Over the fireplace is a narrow tiled Arcadian scene featuring three ladies and more mainly light green and some buff tiles around it. The room is lit by a skylight with colourful leaded panel, the ladies toilet door has more leaded panels, but the bar counter here is modern.

From the right hand door on the Warstone Lane side double inner doors lead into an impressive passage with terrazzo floor, walls covered in Carters tiles to picture frame height of mainly green topped by a frieze of urns and flowers. Just before the staircase high up is an impressive ceramic archway of buff tiles and faience. A dado of tiled walls flank the staircase with a frieze above. The decoration varies in different areas with rich swags in the corridor and staircase area. On the first floor is a function room with an old wood surround fireplace and more leaded windows, but new bar fittings added.

On the front left of the passageway is a vestibule entrance with stained and leaded panels leading to the main bar. This has a terrazzo floor, original panelled bar counter which curves on the right hand side and the original island style bar back fitting with rich Classical detailing featuring four columns and capitals but some modern work. Note that above the back fitting the ceramic work on the ceiling includes four scroll shaped brackets. The whole room is covered in Carters tiles to picture frame / three-quarter height in mainly buff and shades of green all topped off with a green faience ledge having leaf symbols regularly spaced along it. On the Vyse Street end of the main bar are three painted panels depicting girls in rustic settings with multi-coloured tiled surrounds, there is another one near the vestibule entrance partially covered by a red telephone box and throughout the room are decorative narrow colourful tiled panels. The other great feature is the three notable exterior round-arched windows including designs depicting at the centre a purple galleon with brown and streaky pink sales riding a sea-green wave, flowing foliage and two bands of semi-circular strips of green and yellow, and blue and white chequers leaded panels.

On the Warstone Lane side is the former off-sales passage which is no longer in use and gaps have been made in the walls so that it is now possible to walk around the pub. This area also has tiled walls and two more tiled paintings but they are difficult to view as this area is used for storage. The Lounge at the rear right has a vestibule entrance with tiled walls; original fixed seating in the bay window, parquet floor, but the bar counter here is a modern addition.

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