A historic pub interior of national importance
Listed Status: II121 Congleton Road North
Tel: (01782) 782272
Real ale & Cider: Real Ale
View on: Whatpub
Architecturally impressive and remarkably intact, this pub was built in of 1936 for Robinsons Brewery of Stockport under architect J. H. Walters. He employed what we might call a Roadhouse Vernacular Revival style which aimed for respectability and a nostalgic sense of history in the new motor age, an idea reinforced by the enormous thatched roof as an emblem of rustic tradition (see also the Legs of Man, Arclid, and Church House, Buglawton, both above). The spreading plan of five rooms remains, along with most of the original fittings and finishes, notably the adzed tooling on the woodwork to suggest, once again, homely rusticity and hand craftsmanship. Facing the left-hand entrance is an off-sales hatch with the public bar on the left. To the right is a lounge which features the servery, an impressive inglenook fireplace and a lovely semi-circular bay at the front; note and the depiction in stained glass of the bleeding wolf (whose legend is told in a panel on the wall). Further to the right is the dining room and to the rear left the fully panelled Oak Room – a splendid period piece. Finally, a former games room now houses the carvery. There is much original detailing throughout, for example, the delightful stained glass beer bottles either side of the entrance and original tiling in the loos. Listed in 2011 following a successful application by CAMRA.
The Bleeding Wolf, built in 1936, is among the greatest surviving interwar pubs. It is one of three similarly constructed ‘roadhouse’ pubs built in the mid to late 1930s to designs by J H Walters for Robinsons Brewery of Stockport. It is of a Vernacular Revival design and is the only one to retain its thatched roof. The other two are the Legs of Man, Arclid, on the A50; and the Church House Inn, Buglawton near Congleton on the A54 and have since had their thatch replaced by tiles. It retains its original as-built plan-form - a hugely ambitious series of four rustic rooms plus an outdoor department - and most of its original fittings and finishes. The interior is designed in a nostalgic 'publican's rustic' with plentiful use of adzed timber-work.
Through the inner door is the former off-sales hatch still with a sliding two-part stained and leaded window, and openings to rooms right and left. The left-hand doorway originally led into a lobby with the public bar doorway to the immediate left and out-sales to the rear; the left doorway has been blocked and the side walls of the out-sales removed to enable access to both the public bar and saloon bar which did not originally interconnect but the former off-sales hatch still with a sliding two-part stained and leaded window.
The left-hand Public Bar has exposed timbering and a stone fireplace framed by cruck-like timbers. It retains an original bar counter and fixed bench seating with adzed woodwork and bell-push panel.
The main Saloon Bar on the right features the servery and an attractive semi-circular bay on the frontage. The counter front is segmental-shaped and has textured lapped boarding. The bar back shelving appears to be the original. The impressive inglenook-style brick fireplace has a brick hood over the fire and high backed seating either side with a leaded panel at the top. Some of the leaded glass feature illustrations of the tale of the ‘bleeding wolf’ (whose legend is told on the walls of the central bar). The middle entrance doorway, which led into the saloon bar, has been blocked to allow more seating space, though the door is retained externally.
Further to the right (at front) is a dining room (originally the Assembly Room) with large 1930s brick fireplace and half-timbering. In 2009 a wider opening was made in the wall between the dining room and the corridor to the rear, replacing original double doors. A second opening was made in the side wall of the dining room adjacent to the side hatch of the servery counter - the modest opening-up was to make it more visible to diners! A spacious corridor runs across the back of the pub and opens out into a wide hall with doors facing the extensive grounds and there is a hatch to the rear of the bar with a leaded sliding sash screen.
To the rear left is the fine fully-panelled Oak Room (was the Smoke Room) with a 1930s Tudor-shaped stone fireplace with linen fold features in the oak panelling above and bell-pushes all around the room. The double doors have portholes one painted with a wolf. To the right a former living room introduced into pub business as a games room, now houses a carvery. It retains its original brick fireplace but has modern panelling. Beyond that a no-longer–in-use entrance passage has been converted into a disabled toilet. The former recessed two-bay loggia at the rear has been converted into a conservatory.
Don't miss the detailing, such as the stained glass Robinson's beer bottles either side of the entrance and coloured glass mug of beer, depictions of the eponymous bleeding wolf, and the original tiling (some of the tiles depict stylised animals or fish on them) in the ladies' and the two gents' toilets, which retain their original urinals.
The pub's unusual name is said to derive from a legend where Adam de Lauton rescued either King John, or alternately the Earl of Chester, from attack by a wounded wolf and in gratitude was granted a thousand acres stretching from Sandbach to Congleton (the Parish of Lauton, later Church Lawton), or as much land as he could walk over in a week. The bleeding wolf was incorporated into the Lawton family coat of arms and the incident was said to have been commemorated at that time by the building of a pub named the 'Inn of the Bleeding Wolf' where the incident occurred.