Sunday, 21 June 2009

Last of her kind

Sad news recently of the death at 94 of Flossie Lane, long-serving licensee of the Sun Inn at Leintwardine in Shropshire, one of Britain’s last unspoilt “parlour pubs”. I managed to visit it once, about twenty years ago, and can confirm that it really was like stepping back in time. Regrettably such pubs have become a critically endangered species, either closing their doors for good, as happened with the unforgettable Hop Pole at Risbury, not too far away from the Sun, or being turned into upmarket gastropubs bearing no relationship to their original incarnation, as with the Crooked Billet at Stoke Row in Oxfordshire, which now apparently “cooks an eclectic menu: with modern Italian, French provincial and popular Brasserie favourites all working in harmony.” Sadly, in this day of licensing plans, premises supervisors and risk assessments, there seems to be no place left for this kind of slice of history.

5 comments:

  1. We were there a couple of years ago and the old lady was in residence and nodding to us all. A great old place which was, as I recall, being run by the villagers on her behalf.

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  2. Yes, indeed, we met her two years ago. I remember that the women on the trip had to remove her commode before they could use the ladies. A great place, really the last of its kind.

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  3. Sorry to hear the news too, although unfortunately I never managed to visit the pub. I did once visit the Crooked Billet at Stoke Row, over twenty years ago and am disappointed, but not surprised given the location, it has become an upmarket gastro-pub.

    Whilst on the subject of the Sun Inn at Leintwardine, I don't know if any of you readers have heard of a character called Rodney Wolfe Coe, but back in 1995 tihs gentleman published a short list of the "Classic Unspoilt Pubs of Great Britain". The Sun was the only entry to be awarded Five Stars, with the comment of "probably the best pub in Great Britain".

    Our own local, National Inventory entry, the Queens Arms, at Cowden Pound, qualified for Four Stars, whilst the Hop Pole at Risbury, mentioned in your post was only considered a Three Star entry.

    Incidentally, Elsie - the landlady of the Queen's Arms is in a similar situation to the licensse of the Sun, in so much that the pub is being run on her behalf by some of the regulars, and thus has limited opening times at present. Elsie normally puts in an appearance though. Those of us who know the pub fear it will suffer a similar fate to the aforementioned examples when Elsie is no longer with us.

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  4. Martin, Cambridge22 June 2009 at 20:31

    Paul

    I met Mr Coe in the Red Lion in Snargate in 2000; he'd knocked one of his famous stars off of that classic (to Doris's disgust),so you can see just how BASIC he liked his pubs.

    Yes, the Sun in Leintwardine was unmissable, but the Star at Netherton and Dyffryn Arms in West Wales are very similar. The beer in all 3 wasn't great, even from the jug !

    "Unforgettable" indeed - I visted the Hop Pole just before it's closure and felt I should have called social services - the place was a tip. I've never been to Cowden Pound, though I've in-laws down the road in Tunbridge Wells.

    If you want classic, basic, and great beer, can I recommend the Anchor in High Offley (in the middle of nowhere but accesible from Eccleshall)- 6X to kill for !

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  5. I went in here today - there is a modern-style extension at the back, but the two front rooms have been retained intact. Very good news that a way has been found to keep it going. Pity the beer (Hobsons Bitter) was on handpull rather than gravity.

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