The Three Tuns building dates from the fifteenth century, part of it is believed to have originally been the village guildhall, recorded as a pub from 1784.
The interior gives a sense of the building’s age, with inglenook fireplaces and beamed ceilings with ‘Very fine moulded cross beams with carved central boss and leaf stops’ (Pevsner – Buildings of England)
A leaflet in the pub suggests ‘the dining room carvings are Danish which harks back to stories that boats once came up the brook in front of the pub heading to Swavesey which was an inland port’. The brook, once called Hall Brook, connected the village to the river Great Ouse but is now narrow and reed filled:
The south end of the main building now adjoins what was the village smithy from the 1690s, remaining open into the 1930s:
In 1978 the Cambridge Evening News reported:
The Three Tuns at Fen Drayton won’t look quite the same once Bert Culmer has gone. Not only will regulars miss his familiar face behind the bar, they will also have a job to recognise the interior of the pub, stripped of the collector’s pieces he has covered the walls with during the past 27 years. Hardly an inch in the bars was left uncovered by brasses, guns, swords, wooden carvings, lamps and pictures. Some of the brasses, which took nearly five hours a week to clean, will go with him, but most of the collection will be auctioned. Scruffy his talking parrot, who has been with him for 12 years now, was for once lost for words. (Mike Petty – Looking Back)
Bert and Scruffy would be pleased there are still plenty of brasses and old pictures of the pub and village on the wall.
It’s a welcoming pub, the landlady happy to chat about the place, and busy with diners – we snacked on some good chips. Beers when visited were Greene King IPA and Speckled Hen, along with Elgoods Cambridge Bitter which we enjoyed in the beer garden at the rear – until rain stopped play.
“The Horse and Gate, recorded from 1841, in a timber-framed 17th century cottage, closed c.1915, while the Horseshoes on the high street, open by 1851, closed c.1920” (British History)
Horse and Gate Inn
Just around the corner from the Three Tuns stands Gate House, formerly the Horse and Gate pub, now a private dwelling.
The Horseshoes (or Horse Shoes Inn) on the High Street no longer exists.
The Plough, a ‘small alehouse’ dating from the early 19th century stood about a mile along Swavesey Road at the bend known as Bancroft Bridge. The original pub seems to have closed in 1890 and was facing demolition in 1909:
The Plough, a lonely two-storied brick house on the road from Swavesey to Fen Drayton, is in course of demolition. Built in the earlier part of last century for a wayside public house it became a private dwelling about 20 years ago but of late has been tenantless. Between the ceiling of the downstairs room and the floor above a few copper coins, five or six clay pipes, two ancient thimbles, a reel of white cotton and the skeleton of a rat have been found. (Mike Petty – Looking Back)
However, it may have been rebuilt as it was still shown on maps up to 1974, but no longer appears by 1976. In any case, nothing remains of the pub now and a new much larger private house now stands on the site.
Fen Drayton Map:
The pub is one mile from the Fen Drayton Lakes Guided Bus Stop or about 11 miles from the start of the guided busway cycleway from Milton Road, Cambridge.
See the full map of pubs along the Cambridgeshire guided busway