Living in Asia for nearly twenty years, I often get asked as an Englishman what I miss the most about the homeland. Apart from family it’s definitely the countryside and the old English pubs! On the top of my bucket list was a stay in an old English pub in the south of England. The bucket list, a concept, born out of the movie with the same name (see the Bucket List…something we should all have) creates the idea of compiling a list of things we would like to do or experience before we die.
There have been pubs/ale houses in abundance all over England for over a thousand years. Sadly, due to economic circumstances, smoking bans & cheap beer in supermarkets at least 4 to 29 pubs close every day in Britain (depending on the paper you read). Currently there are around 48,000 such establishments in England. Following closure many get converted into coffee shops, commercial units or residential homes.
On a recent trip to England my brother -in-law gave my wife and I a surprise three day trip to The Bell Inn Tricehust in East Sussex. The town dates back to 100 BC and the building itself to 1296. At one point in its long history it was part of a church, living quarters for monks and then a licensed public house by 1495. Rudyard Kipling happened to pen poetry during his stay here. The huge selection of English beer and weekly offers of local beer add to the experience. The pub atmosphere and decor add to the authenticity of the historic location with its rustic beams, wooden flooring and old paintings. The food is wholesome and the staff helpful whilst providing a level of service beyond the norm, actually the best I’ve experienced in any hotel or pub in the countryside.
The owners have given the place a twist with a themed ‘bell’ and placards with witty statements mounted in strategic places throughout the pub. The ladies toilet has a sign that reads ‘women know this score’, while the men’s toilet door states, ‘men know the Game’ which I found highly amusing , the urinals were made to look like musical instruments and the wall paper print, sheets of music. The pub’s courtyard transports you in time to a Dickens novel, whilst the accommodation consist of a set of quirky but well-appointed mini outhouses.
The other aspect of an old English village pub is the fact that there are places to visit within walking distance such as English castles and old churches with abundant history. A tour of the local library and cemetery will give you a better understanding of the village and its people.
So another one down for the WHINGING Pome’s bucket list and thirty to go! How about you?