Pub heritage feature – Cross Keys, Handsworth

The Cross Keys (Handsworth Road, S13 9BZ) is rated by CAMRA as a pub with an interior of regional importance.

cross-keys-bell-push cross-keys-fireplace

It is a three-roomed pub with lots of vintage fitting and low ceilings supported by oak beams. The back parts are the main interest, with the snug a particular delight. This little room, refitted probably in the 1920s and largely untouched since, has all its original seating, panelling and Art Deco fire surround. There is more old seating in the other rooms and a (disused) corridor hatch near the entrance.

The servery and bar-fittings are all modern.

The Cross Keys is one only three pubs in the UK built on holy ground. There is a cemetery on the grounds of the pub. Originally a mid-13th century house for chaplains and then a schoolroom, It became a pub in in 1804. It is an old vernacular building that stands virtually within the churchyard.

The other two UK pubs situated on holy ground are:
The Mug House, Claines Lane, Claines, Worcester WR3 7RN
Ring o’ Bells, 39 Kirkland, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 5AF

– Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer

Heritage, Pubs
Andy Cullen

About Andy Cullen

Andy has been actively involved in CAMRA since the early 2000s after being recruited to sit on a National Younger Members Task Group. Since then he has held roles on the branch committee including Secretary, Membership Secretary, Magazine Editor, Chair and now Social Secretary. Andy has also been involved with the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival almost every year since becoming active in the branch.

3 comments

  1. My grandfather George Smith and my father Cyril Smith use to drink in the Cross Keys.Both lived on Hendon Street where I was born in 1952.We left in about 1961/1962 after my Grandmother died. The landlord and landlady at that time was Wilf and Connie Francis.Prior to this Wilf’s farther Tommy was the landlord,a wee bit before my time.

  2. I first met the Cross Keys in 1946 when I was 7 and we moved onto Medlock Road. It was natural that when I turned 18 it became one of my 2 ‘locals,’ the other being The Old Crown next door, and I knew Wilf and Connie well. Also their son Kevin who was about my age and was killed in a tragic accident driving the family car when in his teens.
    I remember the toilets for the pub were in a separate building which was also the garage for the family car across Handsworth Road.
    The pub was always a warm and tranquil harbour but by the early 60’s patronage was beginning to decline due to the draw of the trendier places in Sheffield Centre. In an effort to boost attendance Wilf and Connie instituted a ‘free pie and peas’ feature for Thursday evenings which certainly boosted attendance for that one night per week.
    I emigrated to Canada in December 1966 and lost my connection to this wonderful old pub, something I have regretted. My memories of the place are all wonderful.

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