Blackfriars toasts restoration of Newcastle’s oldest bar

Thu 4th May

A Newcastle-based medieval building, originally used as a friary’s waiting room for the Black Friars of Newcastle, is now back in action as the city’s oldest bar.
 
Blackfriars Restaurant and Banquet Hall has opened a dedicated space for pre and post-dinner drinks, called The Parlour Bar, which is situated next to the main restaurant and is also open to the public from 11am till midnight serving coffee, tea, cakes, wine, beer and cocktails whilst enjoying the historic surroundings.
  
The bar has been refurbished by traditional craftsmen, who have carefully chosen timber, furniture, lighting and fabrics in-keeping with the rich history of Blackfriars. Guests can relax in leather armchairs and enjoy a drink before or after their meal by candlelight, or order tea, coffee and a range of bar snacks throughout the day. 
 
The small building back to 1239, when it was built to serve as a heated waiting room for visitors to the friary. The space, like several areas of Blackfriars, eventually fell into disrepair.
 
For 18 years the venue operated as a gift shop called Phoenix Antiques which was owned and run by Marilyn Ryle, who retired in March 2015. Over the years, Marilyn became good friends with Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars Restaurant, and the staff, and after she retired she gave her blessing for her beloved shop to become Blackfriars’ new bar. 
 
Marilyn was from Swansea and grew up in Gateshead.  She battled with cancer for many years and was determined to celebrate her Golden wedding anniversary in March 2016 with friends and family which she did in Blackfriars’ Banquet Hall.  Sadly she died a few months later and her wake was also held at Blackfriars.
 
The Parlour Bar was officially opened by Marilyn’s husband, Tony Ryle, in front of their friends and family, at a special event organised by Blackfriars staff. Tony, from Gateshead, cut a ribbon at the entrance with his granddaughter Isabella, aged six, from Newcastle.  The unofficial name of the bar is now “Marilyn’s Snug”.
 
Tony, now retired, worked for Tarmac for many years. He said: “Marilyn would be delighted with how the finished Parlour Bar looks, and would be very proud of how the team at Blackfriars has lovingly renovated her beloved shop.  It was an honour to be asked to officially open the bar, and our family all agreed that the event was a wonderful way to commemorate Marilyn’s time there.”
 
Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars Restaurant, Parlour Bar, Cookery Workshop, Banquet Hall and Tasting Room, said: “Marilyn was well known to everyone who came to Blackfriars. She was always smiling and had time for everyone. We became very good friends and she was very keen for us to take over the bar in this amazing 13th century building following her retirement. We were delighted to open the bar in her honour, and to be the new custodians of what is now the oldest bar in Newcastle.”
 
The Parlour Bar is open from 11am – midnight from Monday – Saturday, and 11am – 4pm on Sunday serving coffes, teas, bar snacks, beer, wine and cocktails.
 
Blackfriars dates back to 1239 and is one of the oldest restaurants in the UK. Its ornate 50-seat Banquet Hall was built to entertain guests and nobles to Newcastle, and it was the celebrated venue used by King Edward III to receive royal Scot, Edward Balliol, in 1334. 
 
The restaurant has also just been given a facelift after a huge refurbishment and a  bigger cookery workshop and a new Tasting Room has been opened above the restaurant. Blackfriars received the Taste of England accolade at the North East Tourism Awards and was voted Best North East Restaurant in the Licensed Trade Awards.
 
The team at Blackfriars also opened Hinnies Restaurant in Whitley Bay in February 2016, and most recently Dobson and Parnell in December 2016, which offers refined British and European food on Newcastle’s Quayside.