My sympathies are with the family and friends of the late Doris Jemison, the quite wonderful landlady of the Red Lion in Snargate.

Doris’s was on my list for a revisit for many years, so I will now have to treasure the one visit I made in 2000, when the pub made a significant impression on me.

Michael Slaughter’s photo captures the magnificent interior, but the welcome from Doris and regulars, as well as the quality of the Goachers, stick in the mind.

Almost as good as the pub was the walk around the village on the edge of Romey Marsh, which felt as otherworldly as anywhere I’ve been.

While in Doris’s I discussed with a local the small list of Classic, Basic and Unspoilt pubs you can see at the top of the page. The local turned out to be RWC, the author, and spoke fondly of Doris’s displeasure at losing a star from his list, possibly for the crime of offering soft drinks (not a joke).

You may have seen this little photocopied page (price 20p) if you’ve been in any of the “parlour pubs” on the CAMRA National Inventory.  I picked up a copy in Netherton in 1998, but I think RWC had judged by then that the basic pubs were closing fast. Pub Curmudgeon keeps a good record of classic pubs on his site.


I did manage a trip to Leintwardine while Flossie held court, but I actually rated the Medbourne pub more highly, particularly for beer.

Several of the pubs on that list continue in slightly improved form, but I would guess the Luppitt, Sun and Dyffryn Arms are the unchanging survivors.


  1. It’s sad news indeed Martin, about the passing of Doris Jemison – legendary landlady of the Red Lion Snargate.

    I learned about Doris’s death earlier in the week, and from what I understand it was quite sudden. An acquaintance of mine from Maidstone CAMRA, had been in the pub the previous day, and posted on social media that Doris had been chatting away quite happily during his visit.

    I had held back from posting before, as I wanted to allow the family a bit of breathing space; but I will be posting my own tribute to Doris and her unique pub in the not too distant future.

    I was last in the Red Lion back in 2010. On that occasion my son and I, plus a couple of friends had walked to the pub, from Appledore station, along the B2080. On several occasions we had to almost dive into the hedge, to avoid lunatic drivers treating the road like a race track. Fortunately we were given a lift back to the station from some people we met in the pub.

    I remember the Old Dairy beer being rather good that day, but one of my friends dived straight in on the 6.2% ABV Audit Ale, from Westerham Brewery. Doris, as usual, allowed us to eat our sandwiches in the side room.

    It’s interesting that you met the legendary Rodney Wolfe Coe at the Red Lion. I have a copy somewhere of his Classic, Basic and Unspoilt pubs list, but I need to check again which of the pubs I have been to. Mr Coe, of course, is the gentleman who famously, and very publicly, announced his resignation from CAMRA, because of increasing computerisation. He must be quite a character; especially if he downgrades a pub for serving soft drinks!


    1. I’m sure you’ll be able to pay Doris a suitable tribute Paul.

      Of course – Rodney Wolfe Coe, it’s all coming back to me now. I’m paraphrasing a bit about the soft drinks but I do recall the absence of all modern amenities was a feature of his star system, I don’t recall fruit machines in the Red Lion !

      On Twitter Rob reminded me the Queen’s Head at Cowden Pound continues. I guess that has been improved by village control (?), though I’ve never been due to opening hours.


    2. NB The Hop Pole at Risbury was a difficult visit; clearly the owner was struggling with maintaining the pub and it closed down shortly after my visit. Put Mrs RM off basic pubs for life.


  2. The Sun has now been greatly extended at the rear, although the front two rooms remain intact. Beer is now served from a bar in the back room. See here.

    I’d also add that this is the kind of beer enthusiasm the crafties just do not get.


    1. I did visit the new Sun a couple of years ago on the way to Hergest, an area I suspect you know as well. It was busy with family groups at the back, leaving the front rooms strangely quiet and feeling more like a museum than a part of the pub. This was late afternoon, the character may well change in the evening.

      Surprised to see it drop out the Beer Guide recently, though Herefordshire has a small allocation and nearby Orleton had two pubs in Guide with some marvellous beer.


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