The Hand & Sceptre is decidedly not a pub. In fact, I’m sure the words “Rooms and Edibles” is probably scribbled on the ancient walls somewhere.
As one of the remaining Innkeepers Lodges not flogged by Mitchells & Butler to Travelodge a few years back, it gets custom from folk attracted by a chain hotel on the edge of an ancient cricket green where Kent’s Chris Tavare once batted for two days without scoring.
The exterior is as grubby as you’d expect from a building along the A26, the rooms are small, the staff incredibly helpful in rustling up a complimentary breakfast for Mrs RM.
But a pub ? Let’s examine the evidence…
And that’s is the pubby bit !
I enter to a soundtrack of something called “Daytime club” and “hairy electropop” from Frenship, who probably approve of pubs that price their menus as 13,7 rather than £13.70.
There’s a group of four gentlefolk hiding in the corner, an empty dining room, and me.
Yes, my pint was £4.80*, almost Stirchley prices.
but the pleasant bar man offered, nay insisted, I had a top up. So that’s OK.
And the Harvey’s was OK, better than OK, in fact; a cool and creamy NBSS 3+. Not Royal Oak standard, but better than you’ll find in a lot of Sussex gastros.
The other barperson strolled over to me; I thought I was going to get told off for taking photos (see also : the giant Barnsley bunny affair), but instead she said;
“Last orders at 9.40, we shut at 10“. Who remembers that promise of 24 hour drinking ?
*I won’t tell you what Mrs RM’s large Chardonnay cost. Stay north, folks