The Session #82: Beery Yarns

The SessionThis month’s Session is hosted by Beer’s I’ve Known who has chosen what promises to be a great topic for these long winter nights – Beery Yarns:

I want to hear your beery tall tales, yarns, recollections (in a Grandpa Simpson stylee) or otherwise, delivered in the manner that befits sitting around a log fire, favourite beer in hand. Only proviso is that it has to involve beer in some way.

For my contribution I’ve also collected together a few random tales I’ve read that could loosely be considered beery yarns, at least they all involve pubs.

A Noted Liar

I’m hoping there’ll be some contributions along the lines of the World’s Biggest Liar Competition that’s still held in Cumbria each year at the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge. Story-telling competitions occured in pubs here in Cambridge too:

“One of the ways in which people have always found pleasant relaxation at the end of a day’s work is in either listening to or narrating good stories over a glass of ale.

As the evening progressed the tales tended to become more exaggerated and improbable, and many elderely Cambridgeshire people have recalled that it was customary to reward the narrators with some token of their listeners’ appreciation. The award usually took the form of free beer, but there were other prizes – a ‘silver’ cup, crudely made of thin tin and suitably inscribed; a ribbon rosette or a medal. These were usually kept in the public house and solemnly handed to the teller of the story which was judged to be the ‘tallest’ of the evening.

In 1964 a blacksmith-made iron ‘medal’ bearing the words ‘The Noted Liar’ was found in the garden of the Pike and Eel at Chesterton. This inn was a popular meeting-place not only of local people, but also of the watermen who used to work on the barges and lighters which carried goods between King’s Lynn and Cambridge. It is very probable that this medal was pinned to the coat of many a good story-teller” (Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore, Enid Porter, 1969)

Unfortunately that particular riverside pub closed a few years ago and faces demolition to be replaced by flats, bringing to an end that story.

Noted Liar

‘The Noted Liar’ – Medal for a Story Teller, from Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore, Enid Porter

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Christmas time, mistletoe and… beer

It’s that time of the year again, when session bitters masquerading as winter warmers can line up alongside genuinely festive offerings like the seasonal Belgian beers, and all be loosely described as Christmas Beers. Among them this year we found a new Christmas Ale that lived up to the promise of being “full of festive flavour”. It’s also the beer that most looks like it was brewed by Santa Claus himself.


Norfocopia, based in Didlington, Norfolk, only started earlier this year and beers flavoured with birch sap, gorse flowers and elderflowers soon appeared at Peterborough Beer Festival. The label describes how the Christmas Ale was brewed:

Each day the fermenting ale is ‘dropped’ into another vessel and a different ingredient added – figs soaked in Brandy, then Christmas mincemeat soaked in country wine and finally a seasonal blend of spices.

Most of those ingredients were evident in the aroma, a waft of cloves, cinnamon and fruit cake, while the flavour and mouthfeel was overwhelmingly like red fruit wine, with cranberries and more spice, low carbonation and lighter bodied than I’d have expected of a beer based on “a normal stout recipe”, not full bodied enough for me but full of festive flavour alright. My interest in the brewery is further piqued by the description of a forthcoming pale ale “fermented with saffron and coconut infused Thai rice”. I picked up my bottle of Norfocopia Christmas Ale from Beautiful Beers.

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Greene King – outside the abbey walls

We went to Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre again this year, and as you might expect in the home town of one of England’s largest breweries and pub retailers, Greene King had quite a prescence, even the towering brewery chimneys are visible from the market on Angel Hill. Nevertheless, we were surprised this year to see their new range of beers from the recently installed “innovation brewhouse” already available to buy in bottles, and there were plenty of other local breweries selling their own wares throughout the town.

St Edmund Brewhouse

Greene King are one of the sponsors of the Christmas Fayre and have a couple of stalls and the nearby brewery centre selling a range of beers, beery condiments and merchandise (having owned a couple of MGs, I was tempted by the Corgi replica of the Old Speckled Hen MGB until I saw the price). Much of their focus was on the new range of ‘experimental’ beers coming from the St Edmund Brewhouse, an additional small batch brewery that will apparently “enable greater exploration into more craft beer styles”. Even leaving aside their pub retail shenanigans, this could be seen as an attempt to cash in on the ‘craft beer’ bandwagon as part of the aim to “capitalise on impressive sales growth”, but not for the first time we spoke to a brewer there who seemed genuinely pasionate about the brewery itself and enthusiastic about the new line of beers.

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Pint Shop, Cambridge

Last night the Pint Shop opened its doors for the first time for a preview evening, prior to the launch on Monday 4th Novemember, the first entirely new pub in Cambridge for over ten years. Inspired by the proliferation of beer houses that followed the Beerhouse Act of 1830, the Pint Shop aims to be a relaxed, intimate place for craft beer and simple food, and first impressions suggest they’ve got this spot on.

Pint Shop

Expectations had been building since the beginning of the year when the Pint Shop name first popped up, but the promise of a craft beer bar in Cambridge was taken with a pinch of salt – after all, we’d been here before with the Cambridge Tap having twice tried and failed to open at the train station, around which time Brew Dog was said to be sniffing around Cambridge, although this too came to nothing. However, in August any doubts were dismissed when the location for the Pint Shop was finally revealed, a handsome three-storey building just off the Market Place in the city centre, an area short of good beer.

Before the transformation

Before the transformation

We visited prior to the refitting and were shown around what were then empty offices while Rich and Benny waxed lyrical about their vision. It wasn’t hard to see how the former stuffy offices could become a bustling beerhouse, and a few things in particular piqued our interest – glimpses of original fireplaces and features, albeit partly concealed, the potential of the large cellar, and perhaps most of all, the surprise of an outdoor patio area at the rear of the building – in the centre of Cambridge, a quiet, secluded spot we wouldn’t have known existed (and that would be much improved with a trellis of hops!)


During the renovation, the fireplaces were uncovered to expose marble fireplace surrounds, carpets ripped up to reveal parquet floors, original shutters and fine doric columns refurbished, and walls knocked through to form a spacious front bar and cosy snug.



But back to the beer. Earlier in the year we’d met Rich to hear more about the plans over a few pints. It was clear by then that it was more than a pipedream, and the kind of beers being enthusiastically discussed were exactly the kind of beers that Cambridge lacked – craft beers from the likes of Magic Rock and Buxton that seemed to have passed Cambridge by on their way to London. Fast forward to today, and although this isn’t by any means the first time craft beer has been served in Cambridge, the beer selection currently sitting in the cellar includes some of the best beer being brewed in this country today, with the likes of Buxton Axe Edge and Kernal IPA soon to appear amongst the ten keg and six cask lines. Unlike the original beer houses, there’s also an array of gins, with Adnams Copper House as the house gin.


On the preview night we were treated to a free bar featuring Kernel Table Beer, Rogue Dead Guy, Adnams Dry Hopped Lager and Old Ale, Marble Pint and Oakham Asylum – all in good nick and served with zeal by an impassioned team. More than the beer itself, the enthusiasm of the staff is what impressed – the previous week spent on a crash course of beer and gin tasting, food pairing and cellarmanship, clearly paying dividends.

Dining Room

For a place with the slogan ‘Meat Bread Beer’, it was not unexpected that the bar snacks being served were mostly unsuitable for vegetarians, but the food seemed to be going down very well for others. Although snacks will be available in the bar area, what was especially welcome was the separation of the main dining and drinking areas, with dining rooms at the rear and on the first floor, avoiding the situation in some pubs where tables in the main bar sit ‘reserved’, empty and free of discouraged drinkers.


It also helps that the building itself has such a great ambience, with plenty of original features and nice added touches – a foot rest running the length of the bar, ledges for drinks in the outside alley and along the corridors, a chalkboard for the essential details of the beer – they all added up to a great first impression and it lived up to it’s promise as a place I can see myself visiting often, drinking a variety of good beer. I’ll raise a glass to that.

A History of No. 10 Peas Hill

The present building, “an unusually ambitious house” with “giant pilasters and a Doric stone frieze” (Pevsner, 1970), was originally a merchant’s house built c.1830, perhaps earlier, which would make it contemporary with Cambridge’s Bridge of Sighs. During its lifetime it has been a bank, Toft’s cabinet makers, Mary Cullum’s lodging house, Francis & Co solicitors (the oldest firm of solicitors in Cambridge, now merged with Mills & Reeve) and most recently an office for the University administration and records. At the time it was built, it would have stood facing the Bell Inn, since demolished to make way for extensions to the Guildhall, now the site of the Tourist Information Centre. The Three Tuns also stood on Peas Hill by St. Edward’s passage, a tavern frequented by Pepys who “drank pretty hard” there, it too has been demolished.

The Bell Inn

The Bell Inn

Although this is the first time the building has been a pub, two “well known inns, the Talbot and the Dung Hill Cock (afterwards called the White Hart)” once stood either side of the present Pint Shop site, the White Hart recorded from at least 1572. A Dunghill Cock was a rooster, and dung hills would have been common on the streets of Cambridge, especially around the market place – as recently as 1850 the superintendent of the Fire Brigade which stood near the Guildhall complained to the mayor of a “dunghill at the back of the Corn Exchange which leaks into the engine room when it rains”! In 1575 regulations were made to clean the streets twice a week, with orders that “Innkeepers or others who kept more than four horses or bullocks must only deposit muck or dung in the highways when the carters were about to call” (Reeve, 1976)

The Augustine Friary

The Pint Shop stands on what was the north side of the Austin Friary from c.1289 to 1538. Although the buildings were cleared away after the disolution, part of the refectory and the gateway fronting Peas Hill remained standing until as late as 1789, then used as the lecture room of the professors of botany, the former friary grounds forming the first University Botanic Gardens c.1760. Behind the Pint Shop, excavations of the present Arts School cellars revealed fragments of the Augustinian Friary.


Richard Lyne, 1574

Peas Hill

Peas Hill was an area of Saxon occupation from c. 8th century. Although the ‘hill’ isn’t so evident today, it was originally on a ridge of higher ground, the gradual levelling up of the lower ground over centuries having covered the contours – from the Pint Shop to the river at King’s College, the ground level slopes down about twenty feet.

It became the site of the fish market in 1579 when an ordinance of 12 February provided that “all the fresh-water fish and sea fish brought to the town and all the common fishmongers which usually have stood in the market over against the new shambles shall from henceforth be sold on the Pease Market Hill and have and keep their standing there” (History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely, 1959). The Fish Market was important, and “dealt in a great variety of fish: salmon, Colchester oysters, as well as mackerel, herrings, sprats, eels, jacks, and other freshwater fish” (Conybeare and Griggs, 1910). The fish market continued there until 1949. The name ‘Peas’ may be a corruption of ‘pisces’, Latin for fish.

Peas Hill was the scene of the Town vs. Gown riots of April 1534 and the Battle of Peas Hill on November 13th 1820 (Elton, 1958). These tensions were aggravated down the centuries by the legal privileges accorded the university, which gave it an extraordinary dominance over the town. (Bayliss, 2006)

There are a quarter of an acre of tunnels under Peas Hill which were fitted out and used as air raid shelters for 400 people during the War.

They damp tunnels were wired for electricity, lavatories were installed, wooden seats fitted in the tunnel recesses, and oil lamps were kept close at hand in case of emergency. People used the shelter during daytime raids, some sleeping down there when there was night bombing, while ‘Roadsters’ used them every night to sleep. The first Cambridge tunnels dug under Peas Hill were used as wine vaults and one is blocked off by a wall of wine bottles cemented together. (Mike Petty, Looking Back)

Parts of the Pint Shop cellars do appear to form part of those tunnels, and should the need for shelter arise, this is where I’m heading.

Highways & Byways in Cambridge – Conybeare and Griggs, 1910
Outside the Barnwell Gate – H.P. Stokes, 1915
The Augustinian Friary in Cambridge – Cranage and Stokes, 1918
By-ways of Cambridge History – F.A. Keynes, 1956
Star Chamber Stories – G. R. Elton, 1958
History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely, 1959
Cambridgeshire – Niklaus Pevsner, 1970
Cambridge – F.A. Reeve, 1976
Cambridge Street-Names – R. Gray and D. Stubbings, 2000
Town and Gown – Sarah Bayliss, 2006
Looking Back – Mike Petty

New York Bars and Beer

Having visited the West Coast USA several times, inlcuding the beer paradise that is Portland, Oregon, this time we took a trip to the East Coast. Turns out they’re not short of good beer there either. Here’s a round up of some of the best bars we visited in New York.

Blind Tiger:

Blind Tiger

A small, dimly lit, one room bar with a beamed ceiling, large stone fireplace with a thick wooden mantlepiece, wooden tables and settles – I could almost be describing the interior of an old English pub, but Blind Tiger has only been serving beer at this West Village location on the corner of Bleecker and Jones since 2007. From the outside it’s not obvious that the building is apparently one of the oldest structures in Greenwich Village, dating to 1813, albeit with “major alterations” in 1890 (Greenwich Village Historic District Report (PDF)). The three cask ales (two from Sierra Nevada and one from Flying Dog when visited) and twenty eight craft beers included some of the finest beers I’ve had, tried several times over a few days, just to be sure. In particular…

Maine Beer Company – after reacquainting myself with Peeper Ale, as good a pale ale as I’ve tasted, and enjoying the coal smoke and sour finish of the King Titus Porter, I spent the rest of my trip hunting down their beers in New York, Boston and Portland. I don’t know if there’s something in the water giving them an unfair advantage, but they are brewing what to my taste buds are some of the freshest, lushest, most enjoyable beers I’ve had the pleasure of drinking.

Evil Twin Femme Fatale Yuzu Pale – Initial alcoholic Orangina grows with huge fresh mango flavours into a juicy delight of a beer. There’s a squeeze of lemon sourness but the juicy fruit bursts through the dry brett. Wonderful.

Blind Tiger

In the evenings the bar grew loud with conversation, drowning out whatever music was playing in the background, few people paying attention to the TV silently showing baseball. It fills quickly and later it can take a while to secure a place at the small bar, but nowhere else in the West Village has a beer range like it.

McSorley’s Old Ale House:


East Village mid-nineteenth century ale house, one of the oldest in the city, there’s a choice of only two beers here – light and dark. The walls are covered in old photos, newspaper cuttings and nick-nacks, thick with dust and tar from over a hundred years as a smoky, spit and sawdust bar.


On the first visit during a weekday afternoon, the bar had one of the older crowds of any bar we visited, and we were entertained by the banter from the barman who said he’s worked there forty years.

Customer: “I’d like four dark beers”
Barman: “Well good for you, I’d like a Maserati”

(To another barman serving a customer) “Hey, don’t serve him so fast, he’ll expect it all the time”

Meanwhile another bar tender delivered rounds of foaming beer from the bar to the tables, beer dripping onto the sawdust. $5.50 gets a light and a dark, and the beers were good. Tasting notes? I was too busy listening to the barman.

(To a bald man) “Did you do something different with your hair? I noticed it right off the bat”!


We visited again at the weekend and it was different again – different barman, no banter across the bar, a group at a nearby table loudly recounting their fraternity drinking exploits. We downed a light and dark and took a few steps east.

Jimmy’s No. 43:


Just along the street from McSorley’s, Jimmy’s No. 43 is a welcoming, subterranean bar with a great selection of beer, served up by knowledgeable and friendly bar staff. We had particularly fine pints of Firestone Double Jack, Victory Braumeister Pils and a couple of Sixpoint wheat beers, finishing with a pint of Thornbridge Bracia as a nightcap before we stumbled upstairs and outside, into a cab home.

Owl Farm:

Owl Farm Bar

Over in Brooklyn, the Owl Farm is a long, narrow bar with twenty eight draft beers. One of the few bars whose beer list shows an awareness of ABV, splitting the list into session beers <5%, middle weight 5-8%, and big beers 8+. The best of the beers I tried was a middleweight that punched like a heavyweight – Le Bruery Humulus India Pale Lager, a big, bitter, piney Imperial Pilsner.

Owl Farm Bar

The friendly and laid back atmosphere was enhanced when the Magnetic Fields' 'Reno Dakota' played ("You have just disappeared / It makes me drink beer") and when the landlord came over to our table to thank us for visiting. If I'd known then just how long the walk over Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan would be, I’d have stayed for another drink and got a cab back.



Back in the West Village, a narrow, dark, subterranean bar focussing on European bottled beer, with only two draft beers – Bear Republic Peter Brown and Founders All Day IPA when visited. We had a can of Evil Twin hipster while listening to the Velvet Underground (fittingly), but it wasn’t the kind of place I could hang out in for long – just a bit too stark and dark, it was a relief to surface and find the sun still shining on MacDougal Street.

Kettle of Fish:

Kettle of Fish

Formerly the Lion’s Head, it became the Kettle of Fish in 1999 when the pub of that name, originally located on MacDougal Street, moved to this location on Christopher Street. For me, the history of a pub is in the walls not in the name, so this isn’t the same place where Bob Dylan played to packed houses, although he did hang out here, guitars being passed around, when it was the Lion’s Head (Down The Highway – Howard Souness, 2001). On the afternoon we visited, it was a nice, quiet, friendly place serving beers from Sixpoint and Red Hook IPA.

White Horse:

White Horse Tavern

Another historic bar once frequented by Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and perhaps most famously, Dylan Thomas, said to have had his last drink from the long wooden bar here the evening before he died. Beer choice is limited but we enjoyed Lagunitas IPA as we soaked up the atmosphere.

Top Hops:

Good Beer NYC

A craft beer shop, Top Hops also has an impressive draft list with twenty beers regularly changing. We picked up some bottles and then relaxed at the bar for a few drinks, enjoying some local brews from the likes of Bronx, Chelsea and Sixpoint. It turned out to be one of the best bars we visited.

Good Beer

Good Beer

A smaller beer shop than nearby Top Hops, with fewer tap lines, but a great selection of bottles and cans, and amongst the beers on draft, a delicious drop of Maine Beer Co. MO. We left Good Beer with yet more bottles.

Pony Bar:

Pony Bar

Packed out, probably as the Pony Bar is one of the few good bars in Hell’s Kitchen, we struggled to get to the bar for pints of Barrier Imposter Pilsner, and a Wandering Star Catnip White IPA, hops held in check by a feisty Belgian Wit yeast. Like many of the bars we visited, it quickly got so loud it was difficult to hold a conversation without joining in the shouting, so we headed on.

House of Brews:

House of Brews

A nearby Hell’s Kitchen bar, pleasant enough, the draft list is okay if unadventurous, although we had a nice Harpoon IPA.

It seems things change fast in New York, with no time for sentimentality, but at least one former hotel and bar is now a protected building.

Keller Hotel

Built in 1898, by the 1930s a "flophouse for sailors" in what was then the busiest part of the New York City port. This former hotel and bar now stands closed and crumbling, as traffic thunders past along the West Side Highway.

Keller Hotel

We really only scratched the surface of the beer scene in New York, there were plenty of bars we wanted to visit or revisit but we headed north to Boston and Portland, hunting for more beers from Maine Beer Co along the way – tracking down a bottle of the elusive Lunch at Stoddard’s in Boston, and in Portland more draft Peeper at Great Lost Bear and fresh bottles of Another One, perhaps their finest beer, at the Bier Cellar. Just to have some of these beers fresh on draft again seems reason enough to return…

Maine Beer Co

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.



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.



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

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