That the Old Queen’s Head survives at all is a minor miracle, for it has been at the heart of Sheffield’s changing fortunes for several centuries.
Originally built in 1475, as a hunting lodge for the gentry, it is, they say, the oldest domestic building left in the city.
While it stands, rather incongruously, between the Interchange, a rather dull office block, and a large area awaiting redevelopment, it still maintains a distinct charm, a little twinkling gem in an otherwise rather mundane world.
While it is half the building that it used to be – a wing was demolished at some point – its past is very much in evidence.
The interior is an ingenious mix of the centuries-old, carefully and lovingly preserved, with some remarkable timbers and carvings, and the thoughtfully and pleasantly modernised. The beers are superb – a pint of Lancaster Bomber was such a pleasure that another had to follow it – there’s a selection from Thwaites, and a very good Two Hoots, from Holts of Manchester.
The menu is good, solid pub food in the main, but there is also an interesting Czech menu offering potato pancakes and beef goulash, dishes which are clearly popular. There are quiz nights, music evenings, and a general air of conviviality. And, amazingly, given the nature of the surroundings, there’s an ample outdoor space.
If Mary Queen of Scots, after whom the pub is named, was indeed ever allowed down here, she’d have loved it all, and the Talbots of Norfolk, who first commanded that it be built, would be delighted that their lodge was still making people happy half a millennium later.
The Old Queen’s Head, 40, Pond Hill, Sheffield S1 2BD. 01124 2798383, www.theoldqueenshead.co.uk