My quest to get our US readers to visit the Kingdom of Lindsey reached Horncastle, the Kingdom of Tat, on a sunny Saturday lunchtime with ten minutes to waste before Old Nick’s noon opening.

Louth to Horncastle – note Scamblesby walk marked

The antiques town is at the southern end of the gorgeous trek via the A153 through the Lincolnshire Wolds, which was full of these;


Oddly, while I didn’t see a soul in Scamblesby, the cafes of Horncastle were heaving. You can’t keep fit by looking at hills, folks.

That said, the calories I’d just walked off were then restored with purchases from the German Pate Man at the market.  My exasperation at finding Old Nick was now opening at 2pm probably got rid of that fat.

What is it with this year’s GBG ?  This must be the 20th pub since last September to change its opening hours.

Luckily I could kill an hour with a walk to Thimbleby and back, but that still left an hour to record a surprisingly rich pub stock.

The Angel is no more though, and this wonderful John Smiths sign is all that remains of a pub that I’m hoping Alan Winfield can identify !


I’m fairly sure Horncastle doesn’t have a Sam Smiths, but the sign outside the keg haven that is the Red Lion suggests all is not lost. Perhaps.


The pubs are cheerfully basic, though the stock is a bit depleted from my last visit.  By some distance the most alluring is the King’s Head, an almost classy Bateman house.


Of course, there’s more to life than pubs, and St Mary’s is a beautiful church with octogenarian volunteers whose determination to get you to sign the visitors book ought to be bottled and sold.

Nice hat

Apart from the pate, there’s pie and chips, porcelain (George VI), pet shops, Perkins the Stationer, and primroses for Mother’s Day (not quite as cheap as in Boston, I complained). You can even get naturist magazines (a.k.a. Health & Efficiency Monthly) in the garage.

But at 2.00 I waited patiently outside St Nicks, £2 in loose change in hand.  And waited.  Folk stared at me walking up and down the street, as 2.05 came and went. Then, rather anti-climactically, the Open sign replaced the Closed.  Not much life inside, and a fairly drab sports bar housing the inevitable Brewery Tap.


Inevitably, it was a drab half of home-brew (NBSS 2), but at least I had the final minutes of Lincoln v Forest Green to enjoy on my own.

As a late-night venue with live music, I bet it’s great. The music memorabilia was quirky and a change from the George VI porcelain in town.  As a pub, I clearly arrived too soon.


  1. That part of Lincolnshire really has some of the finest place names in England – Hagworthingham and Fulletby are another couple from your map extract. See this poem by John Betjeman.


      1. Yes i have been to Horncastle with the wife while on a Nottingham Camra pub crawl round small Lincolnshire towns,we only did five in Horncastle as it was a quick smash and grab so we cherry picked the pubs we wanted to do,the Red Lion was top of the list as was a Shiptones tied house back when we did it on the 3rd September 1988,we also did two Batemans tied houses plus a couple of free houses,we did’nt do the the closed pub in the photo though.


  2. The Red Lion is indeed a Sam Smiths pub. It was one of the Oakwell pubs acquired in 2015 and reopened in August that year after being closed for two years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much. I do now remember the very cheap and cheerful Oakwell place when it had a year in the Beer Guide, Sam’s would be a decent replacement. No cask OBB, which rather threw me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s