last month I reported that the fantastic but slightly dishevelled New Inn at Hadlow Down in Sussex appeared to be destined for some dreadful enforced "renaissance" from pub and defunct hotel to a restaurant with swanky new hotel and crappy landscaping thrown in. Regrettably in the world of unspoilt pubs, this is not exactly unusual.
Buildings, ignoring the inconvenience of the pub within them, are often seen as piles of cash rather than redoubtable retainers of atmosphere and shared history who's preservation serves to remind future visitors of the stories once told and played out in their walls. The Horse and Trumpet in Medbourne, Rutland ,sadly a pub I never got to visit, was a good example of the worth of the location and the mass of building creating a price tag so high as to render any suggestion of continuing its use as a basic public house unfeasible. I understand the hours were restrictive and trade had diminished, and the owners (or owners family) decided to call it a day.
Admittedly from the photo's in the article on its closure it was a large building, of which the pub was a small part - literally, and in terms of financial contribution - but once it went on the market there was only ever going to be one outcome. (in fact it made the transition to an up-market restaurant, but just like the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row Oxfordshire, thats still a travesty. I understand the restaurant has now closed as well.)
However, sometimes a pub does not have to simply slip into oblivion. My good friend Steve lives in Hastings, approximately 1000 miles South in "Sussex" or similar, and he reports a new lease of life for a listed pub on the National Inventory here.
The Havelock, or the General Havelock, is in Hastings and it would appear from different sources, has previously garnered a rather dubious reputation as a place you wouldn't go to read a paper and sup an IPA from a handled beer mug; or for any other reason (and I am not saying that any of those constituent parts are essential in making a pub good). The photo on the Heritage Pubs site Have a look supports this slightly in that it shows the outside to be quite unprepossessing but the interior, particularly the tiled murals, looks amazing.
It appears that delays have befallen a refurbishment of said pub due to its historical legacy. I think this could be seen as a positive development, and is no doubt linked to its English Heritage listing, if nothing else. Steve suggests that on reopening the pub will be selling real ale, which is always good in an unspoilt pub, and always assuming the essential character and layout is not lost, whilst the magnificent tiling is retained, this could be a real bonus for the people of Hastings, and the UK's pub heritage stock.
I have asked Steve to send me photo's when it reopens.....
I have at last found out who RWC, author of the excellent "Classic basic unspoilt pubs of Great Britain" is. Now, all you unspoilt pub aficionados and obsessives will no doubt already know this, but I never knew more than his initials. They stand for Rodney Wolfe Coe (sorry, no idea if hyphen required). This little nugget of info enabled me to find a few more interesting links on the internet (where everything is true remember) and is a satisfying final piece in the jigsaw of understanding who the author was, and whether or not he is still traveling around Britain's best pubs.
I have to credit both Curmudgeon, for a post mentioning the Hop Pole at Risbury (which I was Googling) which led to one respondent mentioning RWC, and the person whom posted that comment, Paul Bailey, who has a beer blog himself. Thanks to both for helping me unravel the mystery.
And crucially, thanks to RWC himself for helping inspire me and many others to seek out traditional unspoilt pubs in the UK.