A historic pub interior of regional importance
Listed Status: II15 Black Lion Street
This double bow-fronted Georgian building was once a coaching inn whose carriageway on the right is now laid out for today’s drinkers. A pair of very worn brass plates on the front door states ‘R. W. Pitt Brandy Merchant’ who was landlord from the 1880s until his death in 1945 aged 93. He was responsible for the refitting of 1886 of which much survives: etched glass, a panelled counter, and, most notably, a bar-back fitting with etched glass and glazed panels at the top proclaiming ‘Bonder of Spirits’, ‘Foreign Brandies’ and ‘Choice Brands’ (that with ‘Cricketers’ is a modern addition). The spaces in the pub are now interconnected but at the rear are a couple of adjacent snugs linked by an interesting archway with a doubled fretwork infill in the head. The snug on the right has an interwar brick fireplace, that on the left a pink marble-surround one. The glazed lobby on the left side of the main bar has etched glass with birds and foliage to a design that was commonplace in pubs during the 1880s and ’90s.
The Cricketers is the least altered pub in The Lanes, the collection of late 18th century narrow lanes and alleyways and now popular for their range of shops. This three-storey double bow-fronted Georgian building was a coaching inn - the carriage entrance and former stables have been converted into a drinking area with a modern bar counter. Look for the original securing chain - mentioned in the listing description. There is a now-disused door on the left with fine vestibule which gave access from an alleyway into the hotel accommodation.
Note the old brass plate of the main doors 'R. W. Pitt, Brandy Merchant' - Robert William Pitt was landlord from the 1880s until he died in 1945 aged 93. He was responsible for the pubs refitting in 1886 of which much survives. There are etched glass, a panelled bar counter divided by thick pilaster, and the bar-back fitting has etched glass and spirit advertising panels in glass at the top of the bar-back. The 'Bonder of Spirits', 'Foreign Brandies' and 'Choice Brands' on the return are all original, but the panel on the right with the 'Cricketers' panel is a modern addition - note how the other sections are behind the counter (which has a notable slope). In this area there was originally a snug but the partition that separated it was removed some time ago.
A rectangular opening at the rear of the servery functions as bar counter to the rear lobby where an old pair of timbered archways separate side-by-side snugs. That on the right has an interwar brick fireplace while the older, red tiled fire in the larger left side has a sturdy flecked and fluted marble surround. In 1949 the drinking area here was expanded when a former kitchen was removed. Pity about the addition of pseudo Victorian clutter. An old carved cross-gantry with etched glass and small projecting counter screen have regretfully disappeared from this end of the bar since the 1960s.
A curving staircase leads to three modernised first-floor function rooms. These include the Greene Room, with a set of exhibits dedicated to Graham Greene, author of Brighton Rock. Other material on view relates to Jack the Ripper (who it's claimed, would you believe, planned his murders in the pub!). Also up here survives a sturdily segmented Victorian bar counter with raised and fielded panels but with brand new back cabinets. Staff claim the upstairs rooms were bedrooms until recently - if so, the bar counter was imported from elsewhere.