I much enjoyed Boak & Bailey’s well-written post on “classic” pubs yesterday.

Buildings aren’t everything. Some of the new micropubs are more boxy than Wetherspoons conversions, and equally some have felt like welcoming public houses, others like private members clubs. Their closing comment is, itself, a classic.

“Ultimately, for us, the only defining feature of a pub is that we can walk in off the street without making an appointment and drink a beer or two without eating. (And, we suppose, without being made to feel guilty for not eating either.) Beyond that, what defines the meaning of Pub is its diversity, and what makes for a classic pub is that it gets to you, that you remember it and (optional?) that you find yourself longing to go back.”

Now the printed media have ceased to be relevant we can still take interest in their never-ending “best ofs”, in the full knowledge their main purpose is as clickbait for expensive B&B and posh lunches.

Not all of them though. While in the Nutshell I came across this list of Stuart Ashby’s top 20 on the wall.

Angel & Harp ? Me neither

Cleverer people than me will be able to enhance the picture, but I’ve listed Stuart’s Top 20 below.

  • King’s Arms, Stowmarket
  • Nutshel, Bury St Edmunds
  • Wortley Men’s Club
  • Haxey Gate, Misterton
  • White Lion, Bingham
  • Holy Inadequate, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Nut Tree, Murcott
  • Talking Heads, Southampton
  • Court of Requests, Oldbury
  • Lion, Blakey Ridge,
  • Malt Cross, Nottingham
  • Tower, St Leonards
  • Five Lamps, Derby
  • Shore Inn, East Wittering
  • Dairyman’s Daughter, Arreton, IoW
  • Pivni, York
  • Pointer, Brill
  • Crab Tree, Shoreham-on-Sea
  • Plough, Kingham
  • Angel & Harp, Great Dunmow

Stuart has appeared in What’s Brewing and national newspapers over recent years, having visited all the pubs in the 1990 edition of the Good Beer Guide.  That’s some going, but I know at least two people who are attempting to do a current edition, which means doing the several hundred brand new pubs added each September. Not for the faint-hearted.

I reckon (by comparison of ages) this this list is quite recent.  I was fascinated to see how many of those 20 aren’t Beer guide regulars, and how few would be on a list of “the usual suspects”. Doing those 20 would give you a broad insight into 2016 Britain, never mind the  2016 pub scene.

Many people would agree Bury’s Nutshell has classic features, particularly if caught at a time when it’s busy but you still get a seat.  In contrast the town’s Dove is quite a plain building, but I know at least 3 people who reckon the beer there is consistently the best in the country, and the vibrant atmosphere is classic English pub.

QUIZ TIME –   I’ve been posting on my own Top 100 pubs, classics if you wish. I normally post when I’ve revisited them recently. One of Stuart’s Top 20 is likely to be on my list.  Which one ?

8 thoughts on “MORE CLASSIC PUBS

  1. As a fairly new reader, I haven’t been through your archives yet, so for the quiz I shall attempt not to set off the QI obvious answer alarm and say the Nutshell. Bury, itself.


    1. There’s quite a lot I don’t know at all. It was the choice of the King’s Arms that interested me; I thought Royal Wiliam in the town really good but don’t recall my visit to the KA !


  2. I am thinking Holy inadequate cos I know how much you like Stoke! I have only been to 3 of them, and wouldn’t even say they were the best 3 in their cities (though all very good). It’s a lot down to circumstance and timing of your visit (who is in, how staff are etc etc), so hard to judge a top 20 unless you go to every pub in country at least 5 times (my next challenge!)


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