In the heart of Chester, The Commercial Hotel has been a fixture of St Peter’s Churchyard since 1817. The old pub was constructed as part of the Commercial Newsrooms by renowned architect Thomas Harrison who was also responsible for the rebuilding of Chester Castle and the Grosvenor Bridge. The Commercial Hotel being the only pub Thomas Harrison built.
Throughout the centuries, The Commercial Hotel has had a colourful history of landlords and patrons. Notable tenants include Charles Sandford who, from 1828, managed The Commercial Hotel for many successful years.
In 2005 The Commercial Hotel fell on hard times. It was subjected to fire damage and a failed attempt to remodel the interior by a national tavern chain.
Happily, by 2010 The Commercial Hotel had returned to excellence, maintaining much of it’s original charm. With great food, entertainment and management, The Commercial Hotel and Bar in Chester is set to remain the most popular choice of discerning Cestrians for generations to come.
The Cheshire Sheaf recorded that the Commercial “was then (around 1817) kept by a Mr and Mrs Lee, afterwards by Mr and Mrs Sandford. Thomas Lee was still there in 1822.
Afterwards came numerous unsuccessful tenants; until Mr Charles Davies, of an old Cestrian family, conducted the same during many years with great credit to himself and satisfaction to his supporters. The house still remains in his efficient hands”.
In 1828 the licencee was Charles Sandford, in 1840 John Batho, in 1855 John Sheppard, in 1857 Mrs M Shepherd, in 1871 Charles E Davies, in 1880 Mr J Shepherd, in 1880 Charles E Davies (again?), in 1902 Mr S S Cullen, in 1910 Robert Powell, in 1914 William Wood, in 1934 M J Foster, in 1942 Charles Weymouth. The last landlord before Punch saw it off was Peter Tomkinson.
An inn by the name of The Rising Sun existed in St. Peter’s Churchyard in 1782, when the landlady was Mrs. Gorton, on the site of the Commercial.
Even earlier, around 1630, the clergy at St. Peter’s lodged numerous complaints that the clientelle of this and the other inns surrounding the old churchyard (for it actually was a place of burial until the opening of the Overleigh Cemetery) used it as a short cut and “committed numerous nuisances” there – much as their descendents occasionally continue to do today in the narrow passagways leading to it.
In 1808, it was referred to as The Sun Tavern and was earlier listed as such in Cowdroy’s Directory in 1782. It is not to be confused with another Sun Tavern at 9 Northgate Street, which was recorded in 1675 and whose name was changed to The Sun Vaults by 1873. In 1808, the developers of the Commercial News Rooms acquired the inn in the churchyard and completely rebuilt it as we know it today, naming it The Commercial Tavern, the architect being, as previously mentioned, the great Thomas Harrison.