A two bar pub, the right hand room with floorboards and half timbered walls is laid out for dining, while the upper part of the main bar has a stone flagged floor, the lower level leading to a nice courtyard which mercifully contains a wall mounted patio heater that smokers queue to stand under at this time of year.
While drinking a pint of Hadrian Border Tyneside Blonde, I notice a lot of Greene King IPA is going through the pumps, so decide to have one myself. It’s a beer I’ve never taken to, save for memorable pints at the Hoops in Barton where a former landlord, the late Dave Saby, knew how to keep it. I’m pleasantly surprised though, I can see why it sells well here.
The pub appears to have begun as a one room pub, later extended into a neighbouring cottage. Claims it existed since 1812 seem unlikely, even though a previous landlord told me he’d seen the deeds which apparently gave that date. It stands on what used to be the grounds of Clarendon House, a classical mansion designed by William Wilkins, built in the 1820s and owned by Charles Humfrey, a Cambridge-born architect, banker, and sometime Mayor. He was responsible for some of the earliest development in the area, including Orchard Street in about 1825, but ran into financial difficulties in 1845 and died a few years later. It was around this period that Clarendon House was sold off and demolished, and the area further developed into the existing layout of streets. This suggests to me that, as Clarendon Street was built across what had been the grounds of Clarendon House, it was probably named in memory of it, although the “Arms”, and the naming of the neighbouring Earl Street, would link it to George Villiers, the 4th Earl of Clarendon from 1838-1870. By my reckoning, the pub has been here since at least 1850, though it’s unlikely it was much earlier – it isn’t shown on Baker’s accurate map of 1830, when the area was still the grounds of Clarendon House.
Still, whatever its origins, it’s outlived two other pubs on Clarendon Street – the Crown & Sceptre on the corner of Earl Street, now a veterinary surgery, and the Two Swans on the corner of Orchard Street. Long may it continue.