My trip to the South Downs was in part prompted by Premier Inn, who rewarded my questionable brand loyalty with a free night in Chichester.
Although this Inn is on the leisure park just off the A27, it’s actually only a 5 minute stroll into the centre, where the Chichester Cross presides over some impressive roadworks. The railway station is even closer, which certainly made this a good base for pub visits to Worthing and Bognor.
Chichester isn’t a city I’ve taken to on a few earlier visits, which always seem to happen just after my Salisbury/End of the Road weekend, and Chichester cant quite match that. A few snatched halves in plain pubs didn’t commend it as a beery destination either.
I saw its appeal this week though, particularly when combined with a walk in the nearby Lavant valley.
Chichester is neatly pedestrianized with attractive streets radiating out from the Cross, though of course it’s the Cathedral that’s the real draw. Well worth your time and the suggested donation; good to see admission kept free.
I really wanted to see the art at the Pallant House, but as I now discover everywhere, we have followed Germany in declaring Monday closed. Attractive stained glass is plentiful around the City, though a lot of central pubs have obviously changed function, mainly to pizza places.
That sense of under-pubbing in a (small) University city continued as I then found two of the Guide pubs closed on Sunday evening. The excellent Chichester Inn was half expected, though as a regular live venue it was still surprising.
Less expected were the lights out in the Belle Isle, purveyor of craft and challengingly priced food; I was one of a number of disappointed potential customers.
So the Wetherspoons was the only open pub within sight of the Cathedral, and to be fair it was having no trouble absorbing the custom, including some drunken Scottish patrons attempting favourites from “The Sound of Music” post Desperados.
My choice of a local beer with the words “farmhouse” and “Saison” on the pump-clip may seem a bit out of character, but where turnover is slow I always go for the cheapest (though clearly not Doom Bar). I grew to enjoy it I quite a lot (NBSS 3). Langham seemed to pop up nearly everywhere; someone there in marketing is doing a good job.
Elsewhere in town there is no shortage of Greene King houses, each making claims to craft not borne out by a look through the window. The Park Tavern perhaps looked the cosiest pub, but post-Saison I didn’t fancy a half of Fullers.
I commented on how quiet Newbury was on Sunday recently; Chichester was even quieter.
It was even quieter in the Downs, where the views were intermittently fantastic the next morning, and I found a gem of a pub at Elsted, a pub tucked away down narrow lanes between Midhurst and Petersfield.
In some places this basic looking multi-roomed pub would be gastro, but this was very much a pub, with no settings for food in the main rooms, though with very lovely views from the attractive dining room.
A multi-roomed pub with bench seating, beer from the barrel (Langhams, NBSS 3), real fires, friendly landlady, OPEN ON A MONDAY; how could you beat that ? Ah…
Thanks to Glenn Johnson of Western Sussex CAMRA for his tips on his My World of Beer blog.