THE KING OF UPPINGHAM

The last week before Lockdown 2 was a frantic attempt to bag as many GBG counties as possible, targeting (in the words of Management Consultants who’d charge $30k a day for this stuff) the low hanging fruit like Rutland.

You might think you’ve heard scant detail about Rutland (53rd on my list of favoured counties), and you’d be right. Only an hour from Waterbeach, but a scarcity of new GBG entries means my write-ups are rare.

Last year’s new entry, the Ketton Railway you see above, was a corker but the electricity had gone out and my photos were very “BRAPA after 6 pints”.

But GBG21 continues to delight, and Uppingham’s Exeter Arms had the privilege of hosting my last (well, sole) Rutland tick. Can Uppers (as it’s known to the poshos) now emerge from the shadow of Oakham ?

Famous alumni include Norwich fan Stephen Fry, the guy who designed the Humber Bridge, an ex-husband of Anthea Turner, and approximately 4,573 assorted cricketers, priests and military men.

I think I’d have got bored of Uppingham rather quickly if my parents had been daft loaded enough to send me there. It’s actually smaller than Waterbeach, which has less pubs but a better Chinese takeaway.

This is the tiny marketplace, home of the famous Don Paddy’s (Adnam’s) and The Vaults (Adnam’s),

as well as the fashionable boutiques.

As with Northants, you should ruddle round Rutland in the Fall, as you Yanks call it cos you can’t spell Autumn.

Taking photos in town is quite tricky, as it’s overrun by 15 year old girls in hockey uniform and I’ve a honourable reputation to maintain. See also : Repton, Oundle, Stamford etc etc.

Because 15 year olds don’t make much use of backstreet pubs, there’s not many of them. But the ones they do have serve exotica like Green King IPA (the Royal Oak and The Falcon) and the only previous Uppingham entry The Crown (Everards).

Come to think of it, that all sounds like a half-decent Old Codgers Crawl, if only they’d re-open the railway station.

To top it off, the new Guide entry is a corker.

Rambling, slightly shambling, irreverent, cosy.

I was disappointed the main bar was packed with retirees and tradesmen discussing Poch to Man U. rumours (“What’s he ever won“).

So I had to sit round the corner like a naughty Uppingham Schoolboy on detention. Ah, the problems of the lone drinker, as BRAPA will know.

But I could just make out the handpumps, and with someone else brave enough to stick with the much-maligned Langton Inclined Plane (daft name) and resist the urge to see if the Pride was drinking well.

I waited while the landlady did the multiple jobs required under Covid, occupying my time attempting to identify the Fairport and Status Quo tracks without the aid of WiFi.

Hello sweetie, what can I get ya ?” asked the landlady. I was ready this time.

This time the Langton was (almost) a revelation; cool, crisp and tasty (NBSS 3.5+). Sadly I’d drunk it before I could capture it for you, so the lacings will have to do.

I was joined by a chap with a Belfast lilt and his cheery wife, just back from 3 weeks in Portugal.

“Pint of Carling in a Stella glass, please”

I like those idiosyncrasies; it’s like when I ask for Doom Bar in a Bass glass.

And as I left, someone (hopefully the landlady) called out “Thank you, darling”.

I SAID, do ya want a poppy” someone screamed back, above the chorus of “What You’re Proposing“. But does it even have a chorus ?

BRAPA will love it.

27 thoughts on “THE KING OF UPPINGHAM

  1. It’s all changed since my in-laws lived there. I hear the Crown has changed hands. I don’t think we ever went in the Exeter Arms – that’s the pub near the school?
    The Vaults, Don Paddy’s and The Falcon are all in the same ownership I think. Hence the Adnams I suppose.

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    1. That’s right, the Exeter is the only one west of the A6003, looking very out of place amongst the school buildings.

      The Crown had a young landlord a decade or more ago who ran it for Everards with a lot of guest beers and festivals but I guess that only lasts so long in a small town. The drinkers were all in the Exeter, I sense.

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      1. The licensees from the Crown now run the Brunswick in Derby. The last time I was in the Crown it was down to one real ale (huzzah!), Tiger, in bloody terrible condition (boo!). Not recommended.

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  2. Sad that you missed the Uppingham homebrew, usually on in the lovely little front bar of The Falcon, and the horrendously expensive rugger-bugger hangout The Vaults. You’d like it, it’s old-fangled.

    Whilst the once very good Crown is now one of the worst Everards pubs I’ve draunk in recently, the Exeter is somehow much better without actually changing to any great degree. You struck lucky with the Inclined Plane though, it’s ‘everywhere’ round here, and usually tastes of sugar puffs and bubblegum to me.

    Along with most of the better pubs in Uppingham, the Exeter suffers a little (a lot actually) in my view by being not particularly welcoming to strangers. When drinking in Uppingham I find I fall between the posh school parents recognising me as not wearing the right shoes, and the not-posh school parents who are suspicious of anyone they don’t know as they think your visiting little Hector and Philomena at the posh school. Conversation with anyone but the bar staff is very rare indeed, hence I usually push on through to Oakham or Stamford these days.

    We drink in the Falcon, or a Landlord/Adnams in Don Paddys, which is probably the most cosmopolitan of all the bars in town.

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  3. I note the economical use of black tape to cover up the S in GENTS, but then they had to go and spoil it with the silly instruction not to “shake it all about”.

    The late Alan Winfield, in his review on Pubs Galore, warned about the low door, but he was over six foot as I recall, and I imagine there’s less chance of you cracking your head on it than being arrested for photographing 15 year old girls. And you won’t be able to use your “Frederick Savage” excuse in Uppingham.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rutland gained independence from Leicestershire on 1/4/1997; I was in the White Lion the night before independence and it was a riot. It was lumped in at the back of the Leicestershire section for some time after that I think. The same half dozen rather dull entries year after year.

      The GBG chapters bear no relation to actual counties. I suspect at some point “Stockport & The Heatons” will split from Greater Manchester.

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      1. It was merged in with Leicestershire but then reasserted its independence. I think in population terms it’s the smallest unitary authority in England. Local government boundaries are an inconsistent mess, to be honest.

        When I visited Uppingham in 2003 I found the Vaults the most proper of the pubs I looked at, but things may have changed since then. I also noted that parking was free in the town, something else that may have changed.

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  4. A fine looking, little town, photographed in the late autumn sunshine to bring out the best of those honey-coloured stone buildings.

    ps. I obviously don’t move in the right circles, as I didn’t know there is a posh school in the town. We’ve got one of our own, In Tonbridge, don’t you know!

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      1. Didn’t “disgusted” come from near there ?
        By the way, where did Clackmannanshire and Flintshire (detached) come in your top 100 counties ?

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  5. Had a good chuckle at this: “occupying my time attempting to identify the Fairport and Status Quo tracks without the aid of WiFi.” –Takes me back to the days before the internet, when we’d wonder “what’s that song I know I’ve heard it before” and then just let it go. 😉

    That stonework above the doorway of the Exeter Arms is a thing of beauty (I say at the risk of exposing myself as one of these easily impressed Yanks). But really, looks like a lovely place in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have fond memories of Flintshire (detached), which included Bangor on Dee, and also Flintshire (enclosed) which was basically Marford as I remember. Mudgie will know.

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  7. “the low hanging fruit like Rutland.”

    Rutland? I think they more interested in something else there besides pub ticking. 😉

    “and my photos were very “BRAPA after 6 pints””

    (slow golf clap)

    “now emerge from the shadow of Oakham ?”

    I’ve had my eye exam (finally!) but haven’t found time to purchase new glasses yet, so I can’t make a bloody thing on that OS map below.

    “as well as the fashionable boutiques.”

    Egads!

    “as you Yanks call it cos you can’t spell Autumn.”

    This coming from the land of Worcestershire and other bloody tongue twisters.

    “Taking photos in town is quite tricky, as it’s overrun by 15 year old girls in hockey uniform and I’ve a honourable reputation to maintain.”

    Also, in this day and age, you’d get nicked!
    (unless you had pull of course)

    “Come to think of it, that all sounds like a half-decent Old Codgers Crawl, if only they’d re-open the railway station.”

    🙂

    “Ah, the problems of the lone drinker, as BRAPA will know.”

    And a few others!

    “it’s like when I ask for Doom Bar in a Bass glass.”

    Blimey. Is that legal?

    “BRAPA will love it.”

    High praise indeed.

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Public toilets are still open in Tonbridge!

        Low hanging fruit.” That’s proper sales’ talk/bullshit – still to be heard in certain quarters!

        Liked by 1 person

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