I wrote a piece yesterday about classic basic unspoilt pubs. I waxed lyrical about some of the many gems that are still around just waiting to be visited by the likes of you readers. I also lamented the death of some of the unspoilt treasures that I had hoped to visit, but never got to. One such pub was the Buck and Bell in Long Itchington Warwickshire. It appeared (or rather I first noticed it) on the National Inventory when I first got interested in the magical list about 1995, which was about when it started appearing in the GBG. I had already drawn up a shortlist of dreamt of visits but I was intrigued that the entry that i saw only ever, prior to it disappearing, said "currently closed".
All Well in the Bell
I was somewhat intrigued by this concept - when was a pub still a pub, and at what stage does all hope become abandoned, the entry struck off and the pub regarded as not being so for evermore?
Well, I don't know what the answer is but I noted today that an ex pub can become a pub again. I was looking at my stats (yes, that's right. My hits. Its tremendously shallow of me, I concede). I noted that the very last "hit" was for yesterdays post, and was referred from Google based on a search for the Buck and Bell Long Itchington. My interest was sparked straightaway. It was over a decade since I last heard the pub mentioned and I wondered if maybe there were other references to it, maybe an old photo or some stories of its glory days. Imagine my surprise then, when I found it had a website, and was now very much open again!
Firstly may I extend my deepest apologies to the lovely folks running this pub. I didn't mean to tell, erm, a handful of people you were shut. It looks from a few photo's that it may have slightly changed since the eighties or nineties, but this is an assumption based on having never got to the original. It seems also to sell real ales and food. I think that this is a massive improvement on it being closed and forgotten. If it ever was?
Interestingly, the website mentioned that the owners were thankful for CAMRA for their help in keeping the license going during the pubs long period of closure. This made me wonder then when you decide that a pub has finally closed? Especially one so important as to take its place on the national inventory? The note above suggests that someone saw something worth saving in the pub. Not having been, I can't of course say to what extent anything has or hasn't been saved, but the name and the building is a bonus in itself.
The website address is The decidedly open Buck and Bell Long Itchington . You may wish to have a browse and see what the pub is about. Looking through the about us section is info that suggests the pub would have been long closed by the time I first saw it on the National Inventory. Which makes me even more intrigued to find out what it would have looked like back then.
Below is a pic of an entirely different pub, as am short on stock National Inventory pub photo's.....
In my "N.I" lifetime I have seen pubs close and disappear from their hallowed place on the inventory (indeed, I think one of the best investments the Inventory website owners could make would be an archive of former pubs now closed). I can't think of many pubs that have survived on the inventory long after closure if not at the centre of a spirited public and CAMRA campaign to block their conversing to other uses. One thinks of the sad almost inevitable now, demise of the Eagle at Skerne, East Yorkshire, and the long running fight for the Crook Inn at Tweedsmuir in the Borders. The Dun Cow in Co Durham struggled on awaiting confirmation it was closed, but it's only the Buck that has appeared so many times whilst no longer a pub. So what has been missed?
Request for Info please!
Well, at this point, even though I celebrate and search out open unspoilt pubs as a hobby I wanted to extend a request to you readers.
I am going to list some classic pubs, not all of which made it onto the Inventory. These are hostelries that I know or am fairly sure have closed, and whether by visit or reputation I believe would have warranted inclusion on the inventory, and certainly a visit.
After reading this roll call, I would like to ask you to suggest anymore now closed (or better still now reopened) pubs that fit the above criteria, or at least, in your own opinion, definitely fit the criteria of being basic and unspoilt. Alternatively, if you know that any of the below listed are now open again, I'd be really interested to find out.
In no particular order, please see a written mausoleum of the best British pubs now lost :
Hop Pole, Risbury, Herefordshire
Dun Cow, Old White Lea, Billy Row, Co Durham
Plume of Feathers, Whitchurch, Shropshire
Eagle, Skerne, East Yorkshire
Palace Hotel, Bristol
Tibbie Sheils Inn, Borders
Robin Hood, Little Matlock Sheffield
Fox, Bix, Oxfordshire
Setter Dog, Walker Barn, Macclesfield
Plough, Elmley Castle Worcestershire (long gone, see 1975 cider house photographs
Cupids Hill Inn Grosmont, Gwent
Seven Stars, Halfway House, Shropshire
Welcome Stranger, Herstmonceux, Sussex
Paul Pry, Worcester
Berkeley Hunt, Purton, Gloucestershire (not to be confused with the still open Berkeley Arms in Purton....)
New Inn, Springthorpe Lincolnshire
Holly Bush, Greenhaugh, Northumberland
A pub that opened only occasionally, usually at village occasions, in Yeavley, or Wyaston or Edlaston or nearby environs. A while ago. That's all I have...
As an amusing aside, returning to the subject of the Buck and Bell, for many years after I read about that pub on the Inventory (in so far as that was possible given that all it said was that it was closed, in pre website days) I noted the GBG recommended a pub called the Harvester in the same village. To give you an idea of the fanaticism of the unspoilt pub hunter, I have to confess that I hated the Harvester, unquestioningly, with a passion, for no other reasn than I blamed it entirely for the closure of the Buck and Bell.
Am off now to contact the owners of both Long Itchington pubs to explain my error....