Category Archives: Pubs

Sea Palling Pubs

Sea Palling is a small village on the east coast of Norfolk. We were sad to find that the Old Hall Inn had closed since our last visit earlier this year, although we enjoyed good food and drink in Reefs Bar, the one remaining pub in the village.

Old Hall Inn

Old Hall Inn

The building is described as both “originally three separate dwellings, dating from the 16th century” and “dating back to the middle of the 17th century… formerly a farmhouse”. It only became a pub relatively recently, in the late 1960s, although the wood beamed interior still gave it the feel of an old drinking haunt, and it apparently had the requisite ghosts – the “figure of a woman in grey clothing”, “the sweet, sickly smell of strong tobacco”, and a resident poltergeist.

Old Hall

It closed in March this year and in May the large eight bedroom establishment was sold at auction for a mere £160,000 and is currently being converted back into a residential dwelling – the low price probably reflects the scale of work needed, with replacing the roof already in progress.

There is still a pub in Sea Palling, Reefs Bar, next to the slipway, the dunes standing in the way of sea views, but very close to the encroaching North Sea.

Reefs Bar

Reefs

Reefs is a 1950s built pub that sits just this side of the dunes as you approach the beach. It’s been busy each time we’ve visted, and the Wolf Ale, presumably the regular real ale, has always been in top nick. On this occasion we also had a decent vegetarian lasagne and chips to accompany it, before taking our beers to the outdoor benches to soak up the sea air.

There have been at least three pubs in this area of the village. Faden’s Map of 1797 shows the Ship, a pub situated very close to the shore – it’s possible it was claimed by the sand and sea, much like the former Church of St Mary’s at nearby Eccles-on-Sea.

ReefsThe Lifeboat Inn, situated further inland down beach road, was recorded by at least 1858 but was destroyed by the 1953 floods. It was rebuilt as a single storey building where it stands today, then a Lacons pub named the lifeboat Tavern, becoming ‘Reefs’ in 2004 when the current landlord took over – it is named after the reefs that have been placed just offshore as part of the coast defenses. According to Norfolk Pubs, it gained a full licence when the license was removed from the nearby Cock Inn in 1959.

Cock Inn

The Cock Inn was a large building that stood further inland on the corner of Beach Road and The Street from at least 1794 (Norfolk Pubs). It closed in the late 1950s and was demolished. The last publican there may have been Walter George Austrin, a boat builder who in 1963 is recorded as “formerly at the Old Cock Inn”, he also operated a Tea Stall on the beach at Sea Palling.

You can still get beer and hot drinks in Sea Palling, though the tides seem perilously close to calling time.

Sources:
Green, Andrew – Ghosts of today (1980)
Pearse, Bowen – The Ghost-Hunter’s Casebook: The Investigations of Andrew Green Revisited (2011)
Norfolk Pubs
Reefs Bar
www.seapalling.com

Ales in the Dales

Beers along the Tour de France Stage 1 route.

Black Swan

We recently took a last minute break and ended up staying for a week in a cottage in Aysgarth in the Yorkshire Dales. Unbeknown to us, the cottage overlooked the roads that will be part of the Tour de France route as it passes from Leeds to Harrogate on Saturday 5th July. So we noted the best pubs and beers we came across along or nearby the route, which was well decorated with yellow bikes and bunting in anticipation of the event.

Beer Bike

Of all the pubs we visited, one in particular left a lasting impression:

Victoria Arms, Worton, Wensleydale

We passed the Victoria Arms several times before we eventually stopped for a beer. It looked like it might be an unspoilt pub – an old Magnet Ales sign hangs outside – but we had no idea we were walking into “something of a legend” where time seems to have stood still for decades. Ralph Daykin, who died in September 2013, ran the pub for 57 years and it is now in the hands of his son Neil who has been there all his life. “Dog’s had me trainers” he said as he picked one of the pair up from the middle of his living room where Hendrix the spaniel had dropped it, at the corner of which is the bar. A newspaper and some letters lay open on one of the tables, clothes were strewn across the settle, the carpet probably hadn’t seen a hoover since before the age of Dysons.

Victoria Arms

Theakstons Best and Black Sheep Bitter were on draught, “What’s your favourite?” Louise asked. He considered it for a few seconds as he looked at the pumps. “Theakstons s’alright” he said unenthusiastically as he began pouring. The walls are covered in all manner of curios, including the rear end of a stuffed fox. The larger adjoining room has a pool table and more curios, including a jukebox and eighties game machine, neither of which looked like they were in use. In the front room, he warmed to us slightly as we talked to him about the Tour de France. “It won’t make much difference to me unless people camp nearby” he reasoned. His elderly mother nevertheless suggested he should get some crisps in.

Victoria Arms WortonMore than any other pub I’ve visited, this one left me with the feeling that I’d had a glimse into the past, when a farmer might serve beer from his front room for extra income – Bulmer’s Directory of 1890 records a “victualler and farmer” here and at the George & Dragon, Aysgarth. A photo on the wall shows Ralph Daykin, also a farmer, sitting on a chair looking caringly at a lamb stretched out thawing in front of the open fire.

Here’s a round up of the other pubs and beers we particularly enjoyed.

Wensleydale

Leyburn

Campbells is a good place to stock up on bottled beer on the way in and out of the Yorkshire Dales (11 miles from leaving the A1 at Catterick), with a range of beers from Yorkshire Breweries.

Masham

Home to the Black Sheep Brewery and Theakstons. Both have visitor centres where we picked up bottles we hadn’t tried before – Black Sheep Imperial Russian Stout, and Theakstons Distiller’s Cask, presumably aged in whisky casks, although the label only says it has been “warmly acquainted with Speyside Whisky”.

Theakston

East Witton

Cover Bridge Inn – situated on its own on the banks of the River Ure, with the date 1674 above the entrance to the gents, we were pleasantly surprised by the beer range – as well as the ubiquitous Theakston’s Best and Old Peculiar, there was By The Horns Stiff Upper Lip, Thornbridge Jaipur and Ilkley Mary Jane, enjoyed in the beer garden alongside the river.

West Witton

Fox & Hounds:

Tour de YorkshireFreehouse with a good range of well kept guest beers, best when visited the Yorkshire Dales Tour de Yorkshire, a Citra hopped beer brewed specially for the event.

Aysgarth

Aysgarth Falls Hotel – Enjoyed good beer and food here and returned for more later in the week. The Salamander Mudpuppy was excellent, best of the beers we tried there, and their beers are on often.

George and Dragon – Had a great meal here, the ‘George and Dragon’ ale brewed for them by Yorkshire Dales Brewing Co the best of the beers.

Thoralby

The George:

George

A stone-built inn dating from 1732, it’s actually in Bishopdale, but just a couple of miles from Aysgarth. One of the best pubs we visited, great atmosphere, friendly welcome, good food and beer, including Yorkshire Dales Howgate and Northallerton Gun Dog Bitter.

Carperby

Wheatsheaf:

Wheatsheaf

Prior to the TdF, it seems the most celebrated event in this village near Aysgarth was James Herriot taking his honeymoon at the Wheatsheaf in 1941. Had a refreshing pint of Black Sheep Velo, a special TdF beer apparently brewed with coriander and orange, although the latter ingredient was barely detectable.

Askrigg

Home to the Yorkshire Dales Brewing Co, one of the best discoveries we made during our trip, a local brewery producing consistently good beers wherever we came across them. The brewery is located in a barn just behind the main street.

Kings Arms:

Kings Arms

Doubled as the Drovers Arms for the TV series All Creatures Great and Small, walls covered in photos from the filming, stone-flagged floors and high ceilings, another pub serving a house beer brewed by Yorkshire Dales Brewery.

White Rose:

White Rose

We came here just to try the Yorkshire Dales Askrigg Ale and ended up staying for a decent meal.

There is a third pub in Askrigg, the Crown Inn, which we didn’t have time to visit but was recommended by the head brewer of Yorkshire Dales brewery as another place serving his beers.

Hawdraw

George & Dragon – We initially passed through this pub just to gain access to the Hawdraw Force waterfall, the highest single drop waterfall in England, but were so impressed by the cosy, traditional interior of the pub that we returned for an evening meal. The meal was accompanied by a couple of locals playing acoustic guitar and the crackling of a log fire. The friendliness of the landlord made up for the less-than-warm welcome from his wife.

Swaledale

Muker

Farmers Arms:

Farmers Arms

Lovely pub in Upper Swaledale, very friendly, great views from the tables at the front and a cracking pint of Yorkshire Dales Brewery’s Butter Tubs (named after the fiercely steep, windy road that cyclists will have to tackle on the Tour). They’re holding a King of the Mountains festival during the TdF weekend. The holiday apartment they also own, directly opposite the pub, was noted for a future visit.

Tan Hill

Tan Hill Inn:

Tan HillOn the edge of Swaledale, well known as the highest pub in Great Britain at 1,732ft above sea level. After taking in the view over a pint of Black Sheep bitter, we picked up some bottles of it’s own Tan Hill Inn Ewe Juice, a beer brewed for it by the Dent Brewery.

Dentdale

Further afield, and not on the TdF route, but well worth a visit for two cracking pubs.

Sun Inn:

Sun Inn

Faced with a choice of two unfamiliar beers, a local at the bar suggested we try the Kirkby Lonsdale Tiffin Gold – “everybody in here’s been drinking it all day” he said. It proved to be one of the best beers we tried during the trip and we wished we didn’t have to drive to our next destination so we could have sessioned on it too.

George & Dragon:

The Dent Brewery Tap, with a range of their own cask beers, and on keg Samuel Smiths Extra stout, Organic Lager, Taddy Lager and Sovereign Bitter.

Dent Tap

Tour de France beers:

Ilkley Marie JauneWe came across several special TdF beers on cask from local breweries including Wensleydale Top Cogg, Northallerton Peloton Pale, Yorkshire Dales Tour de Dales and KOM Festivale (available at the Farmers Arms KOM festival), and Richmond Sacre Bleu, as well as bottles of Ilkley Marie Jaune, a variation on their Mary Jane, brewed with French hops and yeast, picking up the last bottle of it on the shelf from the Wine Shop in Grassington.

Links:
North West Yorkshire CAMRA guide

Cambridge Pubs showing the World Cup

Well it’s nearly that time, when we can share hopes and inevitable disappointments, watching England’s World Cup matches in a pub. I watched some of the 2002 World Cup in what was my local at the time, the Hat & Feathers on Barton Road in Cambridge, when such was the time difference between here and South Korea and Japan, some matches were shown in pubs as early as seven o’clock in the morning – so begins a good day! When Beckham scored the penalty against Argentina, the pub erupted in celebration. Three matches later we were beaten in the quarter finals by this year’s hosts Brazil.

The Hat & Feathers has since closed and been converted to flats, so here’s a current list of good pubs that have confirmed they’re showing the World Cup:

Alma CB2 1HW
Blue Moon CB1 2LF
Cambridge Brew House CB1 1LH
Carpenters Arms CB4 3DZ
Champion of the Thames CB1 1LN
Dobblers CB1 2QF
Great Northern CB1 2JB
Kingston Arms (England games only) CB1 2NU
Mill CB2 1RX
Six Bells CB1 2HS

Continue reading

Cambridge Pubs

Cambridge has plenty of good pubs, and after living here for over twenty years, I thought it was time I wrote a guide to them. Follow this link for a full round up of the best Cambridge pubs

For starters, here are four of my favourites:

Elm Tree

16A Orchard St, Cambridge CB1 1JT
theelmtreecambridge.co.uk
Elm Tree
Friendly, relaxing pub with several real ales and a fridge full of Belgian beers including rarities, accompanied by detailed tasting menus. Outdoor seating along the alley at the side that becomes a sun trap in the summer. Live music several times a month. No food but the Free Press is just along the street – yes, two of the best pubs in Cambridge are just 50 metres apart…

Free Press

7 Prospect Row CB1 1DU Map
www.freepresspub.com | @FreePressPub
Free PressA wonderful little traditional backstreet pub, one of my favourite pubs anywhere, a must-visit Cambridge pub. Dating back to at least 1825, it was nearly lost forever to 1970s redevelopments, boarded up and awaiting its fate. Luckily, it was saved from the wrecking ball, refitted and renovated, and lives on. Two open fires in the winter, beer festivals in the beer garden in the summer, great food, draught beers are from Greene King and guests, and generally amongst the best kept beers in Cambridge.

Mill

14, Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX
themillpubcambridge.co.uk | @TheMillCam
Mill, Cambridge
Excellent pub in enviable riverside location, with Laundress Green serving as its unofficial beer garden, a perfect refreshment stop when punting. Great selection of cask, keg and bottled beer, very supportive of local breweries, good food – this pub has been doing everything right since it was refurbished and reopened under new management in 2012.

Pint Shop

10 Peas Hill CB2 3PN Map
www.pintshop.co.uk | @PintShop
Pint Shop
Opened in November 2013 in a handsome 1830s merchant’s house just off the Market Place in the city centre, it proved to be an instant hit. Impressive beer selection with 10 keg and 6 cask lines serving the finest beers from the likes of Buxton, Kernel, Magic Rock, Marble, Rogue and Southern Tier. Bar snacks available but separate dining areas keep the main bar and snug beer focused. An essential stop on any Cambridge pub tour.

Continue reading the full Cambridge Pub Guide with map

Cambridge Pubs with a Jukebox

The other night a friend visiting Cambridge wanted to find a pub with a jukebox and I could only be certain of one, so we ended up at the King Street Run. I probably hadn’t ploughed money into that particular pub’s jukebox since the 90s, but then most of the songs we put on were at least that old, and conversation revolved around the records being played.

Which prompted me to put together a list, with the help of Twitter, of which Cambridge pubs currently/probably have a jukebox:

Dobblers 184 Sturton Street CB1 2QF
Carlton Arms Carlton Way CB4 2BY
Earl Of Beaconsfield 133 Mill Road CB1 3AA
Empress 72 Thoday Stree CB1 3AX
Emperor 21 Hills Road CB2 1NW
Geldart 1 Ainsworth Street CB1 2PF
King Street Run 86 King Street CB1 1LN
Portland Arms 129 Chesterton Road CB4 3BA
Salisbury Arms, Tenison Road CB1 2DW
Six Bells 11 Covent Garden CB1 2HS

Earl of Beaconsfield Jukebox

Earl of Beaconsfield

Hickling pubs

Hickling is a village situated on the edge of Hickling Broad, the largest of the Norfolk Broads. The village has two pubs, the Pleasure Boat at the staithe, and the Greyhound Inn less than a mile away in the village centre. In 1735 there were apparently five beer outlets. Two of those – the Bull and the White Horse – survived into the 20th century and the buildings exist as private houses.

Pleasure Boat:

Pleasure Boat Inn

The Pleasure Boat has apparently been here since at least the mid 1700s. Situated at Hickling Staithe, with views across Hickling Broad, this waterside pub recently became a freehouse and has a new lease of life under new management. Ten beers were on tap, impressive for a village pub, and the ones we tried were in good nick. An extension to the pub has a dining room overlooking the broad, and even a small shop. There are great views across the broad from the beer garden which also has a marquee for the regular live music.

Birds, Beasts and Fishes of the Norfolk Broadland (1895) describes a scene on Christmas Eve morning as crowds gathered for ‘coot-shooting’ on Hickling Broad:

“Long before the old church clock has struck eleven, crowds begin to collect at the ‘Pleasure Boat’ all crushing into the tap-room, and calling for jugs of mild whilst carts keep arriving; finally, the little green staithe is gay with laughing men and youths. Soon all the party has collected, some ninety persons, of strange dress and stranger accoutrements.There is much talk, and joking, and cheering as they crowd into the open boats – pleasure-boats, old cobles, marsh boats – some propelled by oars, others by quants (poles).

So the chaffing flotilla of forty boats, for many have brought their boats over-night from mill-outlets and distant broads and meres, goes shoving and rowing off on to the broad, whose hundreds of acres of water gleam and ripple in the cold morning sun.”

Later, after the shoot…

“You see the scattered flotilla of forty boats making for the inn… and soon the short winter day is over, and the noisy crowd at the inn disperses, making their way through the dark lanes and muddy roads for home”

Another account from the late 19th century, the Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk & Suffolk (1891) records:

“Then we went to Hickling staithe, at the north end, where there is an inn, the ‘Pleasure Boat’… Boats of a rough kind can be obtained here for fishing purposes. They are long, narrow, and flat-bottomed, and the usual method of propulsion is by ‘setting’. The setter sits in the extreme stern, and pushes the boat along with a light pole, at a great rate. There are often setting races at local regattas, and great fun they are.

The number of broken-up lateeners on the shores of the Broad attest the decay of large pleasure-boat sailing on these remote waters, but the smaller class of centre-board boats are coming into favour, and are, perhaps, more suitable.”

Whereas propelling a ‘long, narrow and flat bottomed boat with a light pole’ is nowadays a familiar leisure pursuit in Cambridge, in Norfolk the former trading wherry Albion, all sixty feet and twenty odd tons of it, is still sometimes punted along a river when there’s not enough wind for the sails.

A photo published in 1897 (Sun Pictures of the Norfolk Broads – Payne Jennings) and a postcard from 1904 show the inn with a lean-to on the west side of the building:

Pleasure Boat Inn, Hickling C19th

A painting from 1905 shows a two-storey extension has replaced it:

Hickling Pleasure Boat

By 1913 a single storey extension was added to the east side, overlooking the staithe. It’s been rebuilt and enlarged several times to create the present dining area with views across Hickling Broad.

Greyhound:

Greyhound

A wonderful village pub, friendly to visitors and with plenty of local characters inside. We’ve eaten here several times and always enjoy it – there are usually a couple of veggie choices. Beers on when visited recently were Marstons EPA straight from the cask, JW Lees Bitter, Greene King Golden Hen and the ubiquitous Woodfordes Wherry.

According to the Greyhound Inn, “It is believed that the Inn dates back to the 1600s though may well be earlier than that. There are records that only go back as far as 1735, when at that time the village boasted five pubs”. For over 300 years this brick and flint building would have had views across fields until the Green was developed in the late 20th century. There is a lovely beer garden that has the feel of sitting in a private cottage garden.

Greyhound beer garden

The Parish Magazine records some curious sounding dinners held at the Greyhound in the 1890s – the ‘Annual Coal Meeting’, the ‘Annual Meeting and Dinner of the Hickling Commissioners of Drainage’ and in 1898 “The Rational Sick and Burial Club Dinner, which was held in the Club Room at the ‘Greyhound Inn’ on February 4th, was a great success… a large number of members sat down to an excellent dinner. After dinner there were toasts and speeches and songs”

Closed pubs:

White Horse:

White Horse

A few doors north of the Greyhound, now a private house called White Lodge. In 1819 an auction for Hickling towermill took place at the pub. William Lambert, who was born in the village in 1916, said the pub was closed before he was born. However, the ‘White Horse P.H.’ was still shown on a 1957 Ordanance Survey map. The building recently sold for £275,000 and was described as having solid oak flooring and a beamed ceiling.

Bull:

Bull

Situated on the outskirts of the village, on Town Street near St Mary’s Church, the Bull is listed in White’s Directory of Norfolk 1836 but Norfolk Pubs dates it back further to at least the late 1700s. It was closed around 1970 and is now Hickling House, a residential care home.

The pub name ‘the Bull’ is apparently “an ancient and widespread sign, which may well have begun by referring to a papal bull, the leaden seal attached to the pope’s edicts” (Wordsworth Dictionary of Pub Names, 2006). This might be the meaning here, since the pub stands on land that borders the remains of Hickling Priory, founded in 1185 and dissolved in 1536. A History of the County of Norfolk (W. Page, 1906) refers to Hickling Priory and the papal bull:

In September, 1343, Martin de Hapesburgh, canon of the priory of Hickling, petitioned the pope to order the abbot and convent of St. Benedict, Holme, to receive him as a monk according to the mandate of Benedict III from which the abbot, at the suggestion of the prior of Hickling, did remove the bull. The petition was granted, provided it was found that Pope Benedict did make a special mandate. The following December Clement VI issued his mandate to the bishop of Norwich, the dean of Lincoln, and the chancellor of Hereford to cause Martin de Hapesburgh to be received into the monastery of Holme.

Hickling can be reached by the River Thurne and Hickling Broad, just over an hour by boat or 4 miles by road from Potter Heigham.

Oakington White Horse

The White Horse, Oakington is another of the Pubs along the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway – less than half a mile from the Guided Bus stop at Oakington, or a 30 minute cycle along the cycleway from Cambridge.

I visited this Greene King pub just after their Bank Holiday Beer Festival had finished, and had a Growler Umbel Magna from the low-ceilinged bar – also on, Greene King IPA – and took it out to the large beer garden at the rear, as the marquees were being packed away. Food was being served to a few tables inside, which seemed promising for a Tuesday lunchtime, as I’ve called at several nearby pubs recently that were closed on a weekday lunchtime.

Oakington White Horse

“The White Horse at Alehouse Green, which is recorded from the 1760s and was rebuilt after a fire in 1805.”

From at least 1879 to 1904 the White Horse also served as a butcher’s and the meat hooks are said to still be in the loft.

Oakington pubs
© OpenStreetMap contributors

From the bus stop you can see the New Inn which closed in 1989 and is now a house. This route passes two other closed pubs – Harvest Home, now a hairdressers/garage, and the Plough and Harrow which closed in 1905 and is now the village stores and Post Office.

Harvest Home, Plough and Harrow

Harvest Home, Plough and Harrow

The Plough & Harrow, and many others in Cambridgeshire, were closed “when Cambridgeshire magistrates started the task of extinguishing licences of public houses thought to be superfluous. The offers of compensation were accepted in all but three cases.” (Cambridge History). Seven or more pubs may have existed in Oakington – the King’s Head and Lion and Lamb were also closed under the scheme between 1906 to 1908 – only the White Horse is still serving.

More Pubs along the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

Sources:
History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely – A. P. M. Wright & C. P. Lewis, 1989