But it isn’t. Like Ely, it’s gone over recent decades from charming rural backwater with large church to posh commuter town and tourist honeypot. On each visit it feels a bit more like a mini-York, though sadly that’s partly because the chain pubs and restaurants are encroaching.
I’m sure there weren’t as many pashminas and trimmed beards 25 years ago, the town now a magnet for the Humberside mortgage class on a Friday night. No doubt they’re feeling the loss in Cottingham.
Pedestrianisation has served the centre well, and the many characterful pubs around the core look as good as ever.
Last Friday it all looked more majestic than ever, particularly on the approach to the Minster.
Mirroring Ely, that comes into its own at dusk with a bit of illumination.
A decade ago the Cornerhouse and Sun seemed the big draws; now it was GBG newbie Monks Walk that felt the destination pub. I can’t think of an equivalent in Manchester (perhaps the Briton’s Protection ), but in Cambridge it would be the Free Press, a slightly upmarket pub without too much intrusive food.
Oddly, for such a remarkable building, I have no recollection of this place (formerly the George & Dragon); a bit like overlooking the Bell Inn in Nottingham because it’s not in the Guide.
Some of the locals looked a little worse for wear already.
A maze of rooms on both sides of that alley, but most folk were in the long bar and a baronial style room which seemed to have the gentlefolk wine trade, and the only free seat. I had to move a collection hat, which drew rebuke from a JC lookalike who I suspected had been reciting madrigals to the crowd.
Clearly pitched at the craft market, with some quality cask from Brass Castle and Atom turning over quickly.
Hard to capture the atmosphere, a bit grown-up and a bit magical, with a Viennese styled Atom beer scoring highly.
An instant mini-classic, I thought, worthy of an overnight stop and a session taking in the John Smiths Cask at the Dog & Duck.
More importantly, this fella rated it even higher. And he’s no posh pub lover.
And then there’s the view as you step outside..