Bells Fish Restaurant is conveniently located directly in Durham City's historic Market Place, a world famous space where goods have been bought and sold since 1189 - a mere 822 years! Many of the buildings in the Market Place appear to be Victorian or later, but appearances can be deceptive. Here at Bells you are sitting within a building - or more accurately buildings - that have early medieval origins.
The rounded facade of Bells was a Victorian alteration made necessary due to a number of serious accidents between horse drawn carriages charging around the previous sharp, blind corner, as Durham City became a more prosperous place to trade. Today's pretty shop front is a far cry from the original.
However, it is inside and above Bells restaurant where there are some amazing historic features. One of the student rooms above contains a beautifully ornate plaster ceiling dating from circa 1630, said to have been created by a visiting Italian craftsman of the day. There is evidence of two very early timber framed structures. To this day, these form the basis of the Bells buildings. These buildings are adjoined by a 17th Century staircase that appears to have been reclaimed and reused from an earlier period. In the stairwells and in the kitchens above there are some very early (possibly 15th century) timber windows.
We all love fish don't we? But scientists tell us that two portions of fish each week help to protect us against two of the biggest killers; heart disease and various cancers. It is understandable that the demand for fish remains strong. The problem is that two of our most popular species, Cod and Haddock, are fast disappearing from our oceans.
At Bells we therefore support a sustainable fish programme. Our fish are supplied daily from 'Field's' of Esh Winning, suppliers of wholesale fish since 1918. Together, Bells and Fields support the 'Responsible Fishing Scheme', trading only in fish that have had time to grow and breed. We only use fish that have been sourced from the cold ocean waters of the north Atlantic, the Barents Sea and the Arctic. All of our fish come from zoned areas and are packaged to display the identity of the approved ocean zone.
Watch out too for our delicious locally sourced alternatives to Cod and Haddock!