There are two pubs in Barton, a village just over 3 miles south of Cambridge – the Hoops and the White Horse. The pubs are at each end of the High Street, less than half a mile apart. The Hoops may be the older pub, dating from at least 1776, the White Horse from before 1851. A good selection of bottled beer can be found at Burwash Manor, from The Larder and Cozzi & Boffa.
The Abbot Ale is served straight from the cask and Greene King IPA from the handpump. Both are the best examples I’ve had of these particular beers; two beers that elsewhere are often dull and insipid, are very enjoyable and well kept at the Hoops. A ‘must visit’ Cambridgeshire pub.
There is a large beer garden which has the feeling of a village green, next to the church and opposite the village pond, with a rookery in the nearby trees. The building itself was originally a cottage, dated to c.1700 by English Heritage. The landlord says it was first registered as a pub in 1776 but is believed to have been an alehouse for much longer. It was previously the Three Horseshoes but it may have changed its name to avoid confusion with the neighbouring blacksmith! In 1808 the annual rent was £2.
The pub sign (or sign within a sign) shows three hoops (a reminder of it’s former name?) which could suggest the pub name refers to the game of quoits which was certainly played here. Although quoits is no longer played here, Wellie Wanging takes place at the Hoops on Easter Monday and has been run by Wanging Master Dick Haynes since 1974. Hoops could refer to coopers, and there are two large whisky barrels from the USA in the public bar.
The interior is divided into a lounge bar and a smaller public bar with an open fire and bags of warmth and character. The landlord keeps Wyandotte bantams (and was host to Barry White the cockerel) and there are various chicken pictures and ornaments inside, along with old pictures of the pub.
The annual village feast was held at the Hoops in May from at least the 18th century. Enid Porter records:
Villages sometimes exchanged visits at the time of their feasts. The people of Lolworth, for example, went over to Barton on the occasion of the latter’s feast, to challenge the residents to a cricket match, while in the evening the men of Girton would walk over to drink in the inn. Madingley men came too, and after the inn closed they and the Girton men engaged in their annual fisticuffs and wrestling matches. Barton feast gradually diminished until, from about 1942, a few swing boats, stalls and coconut shies only were erected.
It was not just the annual feast that enticed people to travel to the Hoops. Robin Page (The Decline of an English Village) remembers
Occasionally, two old friends from another village would stagger over to the Hoops, they needed no special occasion or encouragement to celebrate, and were nearly always drunk. They would become so inebriated that on leaving the bar they would collapse on a grass verge or settle into the bottom of a hedge, where they would spend long cold nights in alcoholic oblivion. Sometimes they remained where they had fallen until well into the following morning and it was not unknown for them to be found by early morning workmen, still sleeping and covered with frost.
There were two ales on at the White Horse when visited – Greene King London Glory and Belhaven Robert Burns. Food is available here (but not at the Hoops).
The oldest part of the building appears to be the smaller part on the right which was once thatched. Inside is a large fireplace with an open fire. The main part of the builing may have been rebuilt in the mid-nineteenth century and has been refurbished with sofas replacing the tables and chairs.
The pub has existed since at least 1851 when the population of the village is recorded as 319. The White Horse was associated with the Webb family for at least 65 years, from as early as 1851 when Ivett Webb was listed as ‘beer retailer’. In 1862 it seems it was handed to his son William, ‘a publican that not only sold beer, but also brewed it’. Ivett Webb died in 1872 and William was publican for nearly 50 years until his death in 1908. It then passed to his three daughters (named as ‘spinsters’) and it seems two of them, the ‘Miss Webbs’ ran it; Susannah, perhaps the eldest in her late 40s, was named as publican until at least 1916; she died in 1925. Only one of the ‘Miss Webbs’ was still alive by the 1940s, living in a cottage in the High Street. Page records that “this lady who had spent most of her life selling alcohol, and who had never been very devout, left nearly all her land and money to the parish church”
Page also mentions the custom at Christmas:
One solitary football match took place every year on Boxing Day morning. The men would gather on the Leys in their working boots, pick two teams, put coats down for goal posts, and then play amongst themselves. On that day Mr Disbrey’s father would disappear into the White Horse from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., where he would drink beer and eat free mince pies in front of an open log fire
It’s not clear which pub is referred to in 1805 ‘Plans of public house and Lordship (or Payne’s) Farm at Barton’, but as the Hoops predates that, it could refer to the White Horse.
In addition to the pubs, a good selection of bottled beer can be found at Burwash Manor. The Larder, Burwash Manor has beers from Moonshine Brewery, who supply the shop with their own labelled ‘Barton Bitter’, and Grain Brewery, with most of their range there. When we visited there was a mini beer fest in the marquee with very enjoyable Grain Harvest Moon and Cambridge Moonshine Unobtainable Perfection served as cold as the snow outside.
Opposite the Hoops, the village store ‘Conkers’ also has bottled beer – St Peters Honey Porter when visited (previously Sharp’s ‘Chalky’s Bite’). Even the garage opposite the White Horse has beer, often bottles from Hogs Back Brewery. Plenty of beer in Barton.