I needed one more night to finish off West Sussex‘s GBG entries for the first time. Not sure why it’s taken quite so long to crack the half-county (why is it split ?), probably a lack of gig venues and football grounds compared to East Sussex and Hampshire.

What a great half-county it is though, with some of the best walking (and well-spaced out pubs) anywhere. An appreciation of Bognor’s charms is helpful, and I’m your man for that.

Chichester hasn’t really stood out, and on my most recent trip (free Sunday in the Premier Inn) it seemed dead on Sunday evening. Arriving earlier this time, it was buzzing, even if most of the custom was in the dull higher-end chain places with names like Cote, Brasserie, Caffe and La Fish.  Rather like Cambridge’s Bridge Street then.

The approach down East Street took in the more interesting architecture, particularly around St Pancras, all leading to the same point though.

I’d come for the craft though.  On my February visit Belle Isle was closed without warning at 8pm on Sunday night, setting the lead for the city. 


It reminds me of Greene King’s take on craft in Cambridge, mixed with Carluccios styling. With all-day family dining, it wasn’t very pubby, but was cheery and bright.  If the beer had been any good I’d have taken to it. Unfortunately the strong Franklins house beer was the sort of dull ale (NBSS 2.5) that sends folk to Punk, Peroni or Prosecco.

A 5.5% house beer !

You can see the “craft” cans in the fridge; Beavertown and Brewdog is the sort of “offer” you get in the most basic Greene King pub nowadays.

Much, much better was to come a stiff walk away in East Ashling (3 miles Simon, use your Uber friend).  The Horse & Groom is the least foody place I’ve been to in Sunday lunch land, despite the 6pm closing time which normally signifies “open until the last roast beef eaten“.

There’s a touch of Newton’s Queen’s Head about it, with the sort of up-market boozing you rarely see but enjoy when you see it.  The banter would have made Simon blush, and I urge him to skip “C” to “R” in the alphabet and start ticking Sussex next. If nothing ese, they have cheese and onions on the bar, and he loves a freebie.

You live in a fantasy world Michael“, said his mates as Michael outlined his adventures with mail order brides.  Note the Michael, not Mick.  This is proper Sussex.

But I forgot, we go to pubs to drink craft beer, not to get marriage advice from neighbours.  So, the Dark Star was superb;  cool, frothy and tasty, and served in it’s own glass for £1.50 a half (NBSS 3).

And yes, they were all sitting in proper bench seats around solid tables, just like you’re supposed to in pubs.  That’s not always the case of course;


QUIZ TIME – What’s wrong here ? (multiple answers). For an extra point, name the “pub”.



  1. Your quizzes always perplex me mate! However, following Old Mudgie’s lead and I agree with the pre 2000 floral pattern comments. It’s the size of the bloody chairs – how are you meant to get to the bar when these are occupied? I’ve no problem with drinkers propping up the bar, so long as the Moses style, parting of the waves occurs when another punter wants to get to the bar and order drinks. I see so many bars who minimise their sales opportunities by restricting access to the point of service (the bar!). When faced with barriers to service I’m one of the first to say, ‘Let’s try somewhere else.’

    The other point I would make is – There’s no one behind the bar!

    In terms of where it is? It could be anywhere, coming to a town near you.

    I haven’t got it right have I? Again.


  2. I assume you spotted the “sports bar made over as craft alehouse” opposite the station in Chichester which I tweeted about.

    In the early 80s, I had a friend who lived in that area and I went down to stay for a few weekends. We got round quite a few of the rural pubs, although not the Horse & Groom at East Ashling. The Richmond Arms in nearby West Ashling was an early example of the multi-beer freehouse.


  3. And the Brew House that doesn’t brew any beer! There’s a post coming on my site soon about one in Bradford and there’s one on the Shore in the Port of Leith that hooked me in, too. Soon got back into the excellent Malt and Hops though.


  4. The row of stools/high chairs along the length of the bar is very common in the US. I don’t like them, but have felt forced to use them as a lone drinker, because people don’t seem to share tables over there, and I feel guilty taking up a table for six on my own when the place gets busy.


  5. Unfortunately, I have not. The closest I have been is Winchester, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Living in the states, I spend, usually with my brother, 1 or 2 weeks of the year visiting your fantastic pubs. The rest of the year, I(we) live vicariously through those of you visiting and writing about the cask ales and pubs of the UK. I assume from your question that you have not seen anyone drinking ale or cider. From my position, that is a mystery.


  6. I think there are quiz answers not yet covered so I shall form a list:
    High bar stools
    Beer board not showing prices
    People standing seemingly in the first space they see, I’ve no objection to standing but space should be left to allow others through the pub
    The crisps on a high shelf above a doorway that many people will not be able to reach. I will retract this if all the bar staff are over 6 foot.
    What appears to be a good traditional building would appear to have been overly modernised with things like grey paint, flowery stools, cleaned brickwork and spotlights.
    The lady taking up a stool with her cardigan or whatever the dickens the garment is, but still standing up.

    Is there something going on to the left that some of the people are looking at?


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