A Haunted Pub, A Real Hole in the Wall and the Smallest Bar in Britain Are Just A Few of the Offbeat Places to Have A Pint
Each seems to have a unique character (with their own unique characters). But some of them are just plain bizarre. And this article looks at the most bizarre of them all throughout all of England. How about one that is slanted, with pint glasses sitting on tables at an angle? One that’s haunted? There’s one that, apparently, made someone’s skin crawl and several that claim the title “smallest pub.”
So here they are, the strangest places to have a pint or two in England. PubClub.com would like to thank Visit England for bringing these unique pubs to our attention – and to you, our readers.
The Old Mitre Tavern – Tiny Pub, Where You Can’t Get Arrested by the Met Police
Alleyway between 8 and 9 Hatton Garden, EC1, London
First built as a tavern for the servants of the Bishop of Ely in 1547, until the 1970s, this tiny pub was officially part of Cambridgeshire. Hatton Garden jewellery thieves used to flee here so the Met would have to phone the Cambridgeshire constabulary to come and arrest them.
This well-concealed pub (in a little yard just off Hatton Garden) can often be an oasis in a somewhat manic area. The origins of the pub can account for some of the confusion.
The original pub was built in 1547 for the servants of the Bishop of Ely from Cambridgeshire, whose London palace was just next door in Ely Place. And, as such the palace and its environs (including the pub) were his domain. The pub was demolished in 1772 and quickly rebuilt. From what we can ascertain, it stayed (officially) under Cambridgeshire’s aegis until sometime in the 20th Century – the City of London police, apparently, had no jurisdiction there.
By the way, if you don’t spot the sign on the lamp post in Hatton Garden pointing into the alleyway, you will walk straight past it. Not one to miss.
The Grenadier – Hidden, haunted, tiny
18 Wilton Road, SW1X, London
This well-hidden pub used to be the Duke of Wellington’s officers’ mess. The Grenadier is a tiny pub situated on Wilton Row, Knightsbridge. It has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the most haunted pubs in London and is home the ghost of an officer who was beaten to death for cheating at cards. It is not known in which year the incident took place but it is thought that the month was September, and this is when the pub’s paranormal activity is at its highest. On one of its walls are the newspaper reports of its haunted history, a small crucifix hangs on the wall of the cellar to ward off evil spirits and energies. The Grenadier’s low ceilings and candle lit ambience makes it feels as though you’re going back in time when you enter.
The Hole In The Wall – Just a Hole in the Wall
5 Mepham St, Waterloo, London, SE1 8SQ
The pub is actually quite a large hole in a wall, being situated in railway arches in front of Waterloo Station. Not a great place for a date as conversation is often interrupted by the rumble of trains going by, but a handy stop for commuters at the end of a long day at work and a great selection of beers.
The Dove Inn – Smallest Bar in Britain and Famous Customers
19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London, W6 9TA
The Dove Inn’s is in the Guinness Book Of Records for the smallest bar in Britain, a cosy 4 ft. 2ins by 7ft. 10ins.(1.27m x 2.39m). The pretty little 17th Century riverside pub boasts a long list of celebrity customers including Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and A.P. Herbert, whose novel The Water Gypsies features a pub called the ‘Pigeon’, nee the Dove. William Morris lived next door. James Thomson, who wrote Rule Britannia, have lodged and is said to have died here. Less certain is the claim that Charles II and Nell Gwynne had secret rendezvous here. The riverside terrace beyond is a favorite viewpoint for the University Boat race.
HEART OF ENGLAND
Crooked House – The Clue’s in the Name
Coppice Mill Off the Himley Road Himley Dudley DY3 4DA
The Glynne Arms, AKA the Crooked House pub, was first built in 1765 as a farmhouse, it later became a public house called the Siden House (Siden being Black Country dialect for crooked). Its wonky due to local mining in the 1800s when the building was badly affected by subsidence, meaning that one side of the building is now four feet lower than the other.a
Doors and windows are at odd angles, beer bottles slide down the tables and the floor slopes; you’ll feel drunk before you’ve taken a sip. Turned into a pub in 1830 this wonderful building has been quenchin’ the thirst of many a drinker for sum years. It now boasts quality cask ales and guest ales from the local region.
The Sun – Pour Your Own Pint (In Need of Saving)
Rosemary Lane, Leintwardine, Herefordshire
This “parlour inn” – basically a room in someone’s house – hasn’t changed in 200 years. Owned by an elderly woman called Flossie, you walk through her kitchen to pour yourself a pint.
Located in the north Herefordshire border village of Leintwardine, the 200-year old, Grade-II listed, Sun Inn is a throwback to a simpler, less hurried time – when many rural communities would have had a pub not dissimilar to the Sun. Listed on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, the two-bar pub is considered by many to be the best example of an unspoiled pub in the UK – and a pub of national importance to boot. It is one of the last few remaining ‘parlour’ pubs, and is almost certainly the last where the landlady’s parlour (living room) doubles as one of the pub’s two bars.
The pub has no bar or serving hatch, beer was brought from a stillage in the kitchen by Floss herself.
On the 13th June, 2009 Britain’s longest serving landlady, Florence Lane, died in Leominster Community Hospital following a short illness at the grand age of 94. The future of this remarkable survivor is now very much in the balance. On the 27th August 2009 was sold to the highest bidder at an auction.
The White Hart – Mortuary Body Chute
Worthgate Place, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2QX
The pub was built on the ruins of St Mary’s church, and the small park next door was once a graveyard. Tombstones remain lined up against the wall. Inside, the cellar – which was once the mortuary to the church – still has a body chute. On the other side is an ancient Roman burial site. The pub could be said to be in the “dead centre” of Canterbury and is reportedly haunted.
The Hatchet Inn – Has a Door Made of Human Skin
27 Frogmore Street, Bristol, Bristol, BS1 5NA
The Hatchet Inn dates from 1606 but has undergone significant alteration since and is a grade II. Local legend has it that the front door, beneath the paint and tar is covered with human skin. The name is thought to originate from the axes/hatchets that the local woodsmen used in Clifton Woods. It is allegedly to be haunted, particularly in the old cellars and the older parts of the building.
The Highwayman Inn – The Most Unusual Pub in England
Sourton (Nr Okehampton), Devon, EX20 8HN
The Highwayman Inn sits surrounded by the luscious and mysterious countryside that is Dartmoor National Park. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of hidden treasures and gothic architecture, music from bygone eras and dimly lit bars full of curiosities.
The Well House – Has a Well and Skeletons
16-17 Cathedral Yard, Exeter, EX1 1HB
Take a peek in the Well House basement cellar, the bones on display are believed to belong to John the monk and Martha the nun, who threw themselves down the well in Cathedral Yard to enjoy a union in death.
This historic tavern, located next to Abode Exeter on the Cathedral Yard, has probably been serving traditional ales and foods to Exonians as well as to visitors to Devon’s capital city for literally centuries. Today, as the first Michael Caines Tavern, it continues its role as a city centre watering hole serving traditional and local West Country ales, a good selection of wines and other drinks, together with outstanding foods, freshly prepared in the award-winning Michael Caines kitchens.
The Warren House Inn – The Famous Everlasting fire
Postbridge, Devon, PL20 6TA
The famous fire that has been burning since 1845, when the smouldering embers were transferred from the original old building across the road. The fire is kept burning using local hardwood logs and the other fireplace is lit in winter. A warm welcome is the key word for this traditional Inn, with its oak beams, log fires and beautiful views, situated deep in the heart of Dartmoor.
The Luppitt Inn – Pub in Someone’s House
Luppitt, Devon, EX14 4RT
Unique pub in a farmhouse with a small bar/servery to the right of the front door and a second room to the left and that’s it! Unchanged in a century, full of character and memories, the Lupitt Inn is home to Landlady Mary Wright who’s lived there since WWII. The beer from the barrel is supplied from the Otter Brewery just up the road. Mary also had a small selection of Otter beers and ales in bottles. The only table has a collection of puzzle games up on it.
The Red Lion – Just two pumps in the wall
Ampney St Peter, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5SL
There’s no proper bar in this cosy Cotswolds pub, instead just two pumps coming out of the walls from which staff serve drinkers. Superb 400-year-old country pub caught in a time warp where friendly conversation prevails. Two tiny rooms, only one with a bar in the corner and no bar counter; beer is served over one of the benches. The indentations in the bar shelving shows where a china gin barrel used to sit. The pub is a real labour of love for the excellent landlord. Two pub signs grace the outside, one in the distinctive oval shape of the now defunct Stroud Brewery. No food at all, but keenly priced beer in perfect condition. Closed weekday lunchtimes except Bank Holidays.
The Severn Bore Inn – Best view of a tidal wave
Main Road, Minsterworth, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL2 8JX
The Severn Bore Inn is situated on the banks of the river and is a perfect place to see one of Britain’s few truly spectacular natural phenomena. The Severn Bore is a large surge wave that can be seen in the estuary of the River Severn, where the tidal range is the 2nd highest in the world, being as much as 50 feet (approx. 15.4m). Several times a month, a tidal wave makes its way along the river. For more details see www.environment-agency.gov.uk or pop into the Severn Bore Inn for a drink and pick up a free copy of the time table. The Beer Garden provides a safe playing area for children and stunning views of the River Severn. Visitors come from far and wide to watch the famous Severn Bore.
The George Inn – Massive Fireplace And Turnspit
4 West Street, Lacock, Wiltshire, SN15 2LH
Famous for a grand open fireplace featuring a dog spit, which used to be turned by dogs running on a treadmill. ‘The Inn’ it’s the oldest pub in Lacock, one of the oldest in the country and vies for title of longest continuously licensed premises. Exposed beams & fires give this real old pub a cosy atmosphere. A quirky feature of the interior is the “dog-wheel” by the huge fireplace – an iron tread wheel in which a specially bred dog called a ‘Turnspit’ was tethered to turn the spit as he “walked.”
The Barge Inn – Crop Circle Headquarters
Honeystreet, Pewsey, Wiltshire, SN9 5PS
The Barge Inn is the internationally renowned centre for Crop Circle Enthusiasts because of the frequency of crop circles in the area. The Barge is also at the epicentre of a plethora of ancient sites and tracks.
Haunch of Venison – Have a Drink and See a Mummified
Hand1-5 Minster Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 1TB
Infamous for the mummified remains of a hand hacked off during a card game, but famous for fantastic food and atmosphere – the Haunch of Venison is one of the earliest hostelries in Salisbury, this old English chop house has played a part in many aspects of the city’s history.
Probably one of the oldest hostelries in Salisbury, with a solid pewter bar, a resident ghost and links to the Cathedral, it has played a part in many aspects of this great city’s history.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – The Oldest Pub in England
Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham England, NG1 6AD
This quaint old Inn which is carved into the rock and connected with the labyrinth of sandstone caves at the foot of Nottingham Castle. It stands on the site of the castle’s original brewhouse, thought to date back to the days of William the Conqueror. The name comes from the fact that in 1189, when Richard I embarked on the crusades, loyal soldiers would muster here and have one for the road before embarking for the Holy Land.
Visit and learn more about the ghosts that roam the many caves contained within the building. Past landlords who still watch over its visitors! The Cursed Galleon and the many hidden treasures and tales that have been handed down for over 800 years.
EAST OF ENGLAND
The Farmhouse -Church Service In A Pub
St. Isadores Road, Kesgrave, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP5 2GA
A Suffolk vicar has taken the word of God into pastures new with a service in a pub.
The Rev Robin Spittle, vicar of All Saints Church in Kesgrave near Ipswich, holds regular church services at The Farmhouse. The vicar said the move was intended to “quench the spiritual thirst” of pub-goers, the idea has won the backing of parishioners and other faiths in the town.
The building is the oldest in Kesgrave and is Grade II listed, built in the 16th Century. It still retains its original beams and has a beautiful character and was refurbished in November 2009.
The Nutshell – Miniature Things in A Tiny Pub
The Traverse, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1BJ
The Nutshell is thought to be the smallest pub in Britain, although this claim is challenged by several others. Whatever the truth of its claim, the pub is tiny, there being very little room for more than ten or fifteen customers to drink at any one time. The pub measures 15ft by 7ft and in 1984, a record number of 102 people and a dog squeezed into the pub.
Atmospheric quirky place with a fine collection of bank notes displayed on the ceiling, the pub is packed with suitable memorabilia such as (supposedly) the world’s smallest dart board and snooker table and a micro-copy of The Times. On a more macabre note, the remains of a mummified cat are on display – in crueler times they were often left to die in the wall spaces of houses to ward off evil spirits.
Tan Hill Inn – The Highest Pub
Tan Hill, Overlooking Teesdale, Reeth, Richmond, Swaledale, the North Yorkshire Dales, DL11 6ED
The Tan Hill Inn is a very special place, occupying a lonely site, high in the Yorkshire Dales. It is in fact, the highest pub in Great Britain at 1,732ft above sea level. Here you will receive one of the warmest and most friendly welcomes that you could ever wish to find.
‘On top of the World’ in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Tan Hill Inn has its own legendary spirit walker…..a ghost, that of a certain Mrs Peacock who ran the inn for 40 years! She is said to appear whenever alterations are being made, when she oversees the work!
The Signal Box – Smallest Pub in the World
Cleethorpes East Coast Railway, Lakeside Staion, Kings Rd, Cleethorpes
The Signal Box Inn at Cleethorpes, in Lincolnshire, claims to be the smallest pub in the world. The pub, which measures eight foot by eight foot, has five handpumps and a range of real ales on offer. It only has room for a counter and four bar stools, but has a beer garden providing extra space for customers. A formal application to enter the pub in the Guinness Book of Records has been made for the former signalbox.
Lord Crewe Arms Hotel – Haunted and a huge fireplace
Blanchland, County Durham, DH8 9SP
The Lord Crewe Arms is reputed to be haunted by the Ghost of Dorothy Forster niece to the Bishop of Durham and Lady Crewe and sister to Tom Forster who plotted the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. The Crypt bar and rooms above are original 12th Century, the remainder being developed by Lord Crewe in the 17th Century. The giant fireplace in the Hilyard room was used for smoking and the curing of meat. High inside the chimney you can see the priest’s hiding hole.
The Lord Crewe Arms Hotel is situated in the beautiful medieval village of Blanchland, which is 1 of only 6 ancient listed villages in England.
Fitzpatrick’s – Doesn’t Sell Alcohol
5 Bank Street, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, Lancashire
Founded in 1832, the temperance movement’s goal was to save the lower classes from the demon drink. Fitz Patrick’s is the only temperance bar still in business is Fitzpatrick’s, a fixture in the mill town of Rawtenstall since 1890. Herbal tinctures and remedies (celery seed for gout, coltsfoot for coughs and colds) line the shelves, alongside gleaming glass jars of liquorice chews, floral gums and gobstoppers.