RECALLING a dreary evening of yore as sole patrons, spent listening to the landlady hark on about a phantom woman in a white dress floating through the rooms; you can appreciate my apprehension upon revisiting The Black Swan in Devizes. The 18th Century coaching inn’s décor and atmosphere was unequivocally average; pitching the ghostly fable seemed its only niche.
However, my pessimism was abandoned on the doorstep, I was astonished and captivated, immediately feeling welcomed by regulars and its authentic rustic makeover. Unless you’re Dr Egon Spengler, if the ghost still haunts you’d be excused for missing her through the jumble of objects d’art and curiosities. The Black Swan is now an antique shop styled hotel; everything overwhelming your eyes has a price, an ardent punter informs me.
I’m not David Dickenson though; I’ve come here for atmosphere, a pint and some live music, the quality of all above my expectations. To suit the off-beat character transforming the place a young Irish singer stands at the windowed alcove grasping his guitar with passion.
As a gentleman moves over, making space for us to sit at the bar the performer, Richie Triangle glides into the Pogue’s Dirty Old Town; I sense I’m at home before my cider hits the bar.
No cliché with Triangle’s song-choice though, he slides gracefully through classic acoustic versions from Tracey Chapman, Tom Petty, Bill Withers and Snow Patrol, even renovating Elvis’s can’t help falling in love.
Open for requests Richie’s natural charisma and quick wit regales the modest crowd. He involves himself with them, nipping through to the restaurant area to serenade a birthday girl, criticising the boyband cover of Chapman’s song or else perpetrating a Sambuca session.
An ever-changing menu of quality food, a friendly lurcher, a fire and every other element of a hospitable pub layers its appeal; The Black Swan is truly a fine establishment for the intelligent alternative or eccentric and its prime location in Devizes’ market square is nothing short of a triumph for the new proprietors. And this is without a marvellous soloist accompaniment with an appetite for entertaining you.
It promises more live music, so you may have missed this but you have no excuse for doing so again.
The Black Swan: https://www.facebook.com/blackswandevizeshotel/?fref=ts
Richie Triangle: https://www.facebook.com/richietrianglemusic/?fref=ts