Carp, hops, Reformation and beer / Came to England in a year.’ The rhyme has many versions but all celebrate the arrival of hops to transform old style ale to beer and, by mentioning the Reformation, put the change in the Tudor period. More significant is the link between beer and religion – a cardinal principle of the Catholic faith. A suitably rambling introduction to my ‘Twelve Taverns for Tangential Tourists in 2006.’ Pubs which generally aren’t in major tourist centres but are near enough to enable a visit, or act as a retreat once the sights have been done.
As a country boy I wouldn’t dare list London pubs – phone FiF HQ for guidance. It would be equally foolish to advise on Walsingham and around – Gordon Square can help on that front as well. All the pubs serve real ales, with the products of micro-breweries (analogies of a free province) often featuring, and all serve good food without being pretentious or pricey.
The Bear, Crickhowell. On the A40, ‘Revd James’ always in residence and a short drive from Fr Ignatius’ Llanthony.
Bell Inn, East Langton, Leics, off the A6. Has a micro-brewery in the yard, food has a French flavour and not far from John Wyclif’s Lutterworth.
Black Bull, Coniston. Base for the Coniston Brewery whose ‘Bluebird Bitter’ will tune your vocal chords for the Keswick Convention.
Black Horse Inn, Whitby. Formerly an undertakers, (as befits Dracula country) spirits warehouse and brothel – all at the same time – an early example of ecumenicalism.
Blue Pig, Grantham. The town was the birth place of ‘The Blessed Margaret.’ The pub is overlooked by the 282-foot high spire of St Wulfram’s.
Brandy Cask, Pershore. Another brew pub, ‘Ale Mary’ often being on offer. Dust off your copies of English Catholic Hymn Book.
Plough Inn, Ford, Glos. B4077. Jonjo O’Neill’s stables across the road and Hailes Abbey (origin of phrase ‘As sure as God’s in Gloucestershire’) up the road.
Prince Albert, Ely. Marvellous rear garden where you can eat your own food if you buy a drink. Reformed folk will visit Cromwell’s house, together with those objecting to the Cathedral’s entry charge.
Rose & Crown, Perry, Wood, Selling, Kent. Its perfectly served ales will attract Canterbury pilgrims who can then head off to the FiF parish of St Michael, Harbledown.
Stag & Huntsman, Hambleden, Bucks. Unspoilt brick and flint rural gem but watch out, this is Midsomer Murders territory. Nip over to West Wycombe for the Hellfire Caves.
Star, Thaxted, Essex. Conrad Noel’s beautification of the magnificent St John the Baptist church still survives, including his John Ball chapel. Ask a local how Fr Jack Putterill saved the church spire while star gazing.
Whole Hog, Malmesbury. In the shadow of the abbey (home of an 11th c. aviator monk). Reasonably priced meals reflect the name. If you don’t get an invite from Chas & Camilla, look up and support area’s FiF parishes, marooned in the liberal Bristol and Gloucester dioceses.
If Credo Cymru feel that Wales has been neglected with but one entry, head west to Carmarthenshire and Ammanford’s Ammanford Hotel (A474) and its ‘Butty Bach’ bitter. The Williams they talk about here (often in Welsh) is Shane not Rowan.