Cambridge has many faults. It’s flat, chain-driven and has old-fashioned museums that are the poor relation of the hands-on galleries of the North (compare Preston’s Harris with the Fitzwilliam to see what I mean). Even the bacon rolls at the Abbey Stadium are a patch on their late ’90s standard.
Cambridge has some merits though. Trinity Street and Kings’ looked beautiful in the sun on Wednesday, we still have a Fopp Records with intelligent staff, many good Asian restaurants, and an improving music scene.
The city deserves it’s Good Beer Guide quota of pubs; quality is as consistently high and consistent as anywhere in the UK. They do lack the social mix of customers that make a pub great though, and many good (and bad) “working-mens” pubs have been lost since 2007.
The Folk Museum, close to the Castle pub and colourful Magdalen, is Cambridge’s local history centre, and this month it’s free for residents (£4 normally). I never miss a bargain.
The site is the former White Horse inn and an adjoining house, a very rambling set of small rooms with steep stairs. If Sam Smiths had ever made it further east than Peterborough this would have been their sort of building to convert to a pub, with something of the style of it’s former namesake in Beverley.
The bar and serving hatch look a bit cluttered with old household implements, a feature of the whole museum, but at least it maintains an old pub layout for posterity. Upstairs in the dining room and quarters there’s a bit of pub memorabilia, including (below) the original sign for the Castle, in its faded glory.
It all feels a bit like one of those cluttered National Trust house I whiz round in 5 minutes while being bombarded with history, and I was done in 15 minutes.
If you do visit you can pop in the Pickerel and report on beer quality there. Oakham and Woodfordes are often on, but range very consistent, even at busy times, and Old Pecuiler sadly long gone.