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History and mystery – a snapshot of the Six Bells pub in Ruislip

Built in or around 1810, The Six Bells on Ducks Hill Road has been part of the local community for well over 200 years and is a building which holds its fair share of secrets and intrigue. In this article, we’re taking a look at the history of this unique venue.

Beers and bodies

In the 1800s, The Six Bells – like any other pub – was a meeting place for locals and somewhere to unwind after a hard day’s work in the nearby woods. It did, however, also play a more unpalatable role. During the 1800s, The Six Bells was often used as a makeshift morgue and a place where inquests and autopsies were performed.

Known records of this include 15 year old John Brill who was found murdered while working in nearby Mad Bess Wood and whose body was brought to The Six Bells to await examination.

In 1844, a local man, William Terry, who, according to his sister, made a living ‘jobbing about’ was brought to the pub in a state of extreme poor health and died shortly afterwards. His death would subsequently be attributed to exhaustion and malnutrition. While a pub may not seem an appropriate place for such activities this was a necessity due to the fact that the closest professionals were located in Uxbridge.

From obscurity to The Shadows

In 1960, British band, The Shadows, burst into the UK charts with their instrumental hit ‘Apache’. The group, who served as Cliff Richard’s backing band between 1958 and 1968 would go on to have numerous other hits before officially disbanding in 1968. While it has never been confirmed, the story goes that Jet Harris came up with the band’s name while drinking in The Six Bells in 1959.

Ringing the changes at The Six Bells

In 2009, after a brief closure, The Six Bells reopened as ‘Cafe At The Six Bells’ but the new venue failed to gain traction with locals and would soon close once again. As a listed building, the pub could not be demolished and so it simply sat empty until September 2018 when it was reopened – and reimagined – as Arens Bar And Grill.

The new owner meticulously restored the historic building and added beautifully landscaped gardens to create the perfect marriage of history and sleek modern interiors.

The bar specialises in contemporary dining, cocktails and more and holds nighttime events including an Old School Classics evening. Thankfully, the new venue does not double up as a morgue as its predecessor did!

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