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Around Britain: My Top 10 Public houses and Inns

Updated on September 22, 2014

Hi, here is my top 10 inns and public houses that I have had the pleasure to frequent (many on more occasions than i should remember) on my travels around Britain. From city pubs to coastal inns and country coach-houses, it is a wide and varied mix of establishments which I hope you'll enjoy as much as I certainly have along the way.

The Highwayman Inn
The Highwayman Inn

The Highwayman Inn, Sourton, Devon, England

The historic Highwayman Inn was etablished in 1282 to be frequented as an Inn and then later on as a farm. The Inn is located in Sourton, in Devon, England.

The inn's name was changed to The Golden Fleece during the 17th century, but was subsequently changed again by Plymouth Breweries to the “New Inn”.

It was then renamed once more to the Highwayman sometime in the early 1960′s. The name was inspired by local history of highwaymen roaming the nearby moors.

A memorable entrance to the inn was built utilising the old Launceston to Tavistock coach as it's entrance porch, maintaining it's original maroon colour.

The Highwayman Inn is considered to have many ghosts and a number of these spirits include a man who walks through a wall wearing green clothes and a hat with a feather in it. The section of wall he walks through was once a doorway to an adjoining stable block.

A medium who visited the Highwayman claimed that she had made contact with this gentleman and that his name was Samuel and he had apparently been in a battle and lost his life at the age of just 36.

The spectre of a promiscuous woman wearing a hat has also been seen located around the Highwaymans' bar.

A door within the bar was originally from the whaling ship Diana which was wrecked on the Lincolnshire coast in 1868, 13 of the ships crew lost their life.

The door is thought to lead to a room where the spirits of the sailors of the Diana and, as ghosts, have thought to have been seen sat at the bar dressed in their sailor's uniforms.

The Jamiaca Inn, Cornwall
The Jamiaca Inn, Cornwall

The Jamica Inn, Cornwall, England

The famous Jamaica Inn on the road to Bodmin in Cornwall was built in 1750, as a coaching inn. In 1778 it was extended to include a coach house, stables and a tack room and horses on the stage coaches would have their shoes changed there.

It is considered that around half of the brandy and a quarter of all tea being smuggled into Britain was brought ashore on the coasts west of the inn.

Jamaica Inn's remote location served as an ideal staging post for some of this contraband and the inn probably got its name, because smuggled rum stopped here.

Today, Jamaica Inn offers a mixture of public house and museum as it also houses the Daphne Du Maurier museum where characters like Demon Davy, the vicar of Altarnun, and an array of smugglers and ghouls feature in the museum's exhibits

There is various memorabilia, including her Sheraton writing desk, complete with a pack of du Maurier cigarettes named after her father.

On a winter's night in 1930, novelist Daphne du Maurier apparantely stayed at the inn and the atmosphere of the place inspired her to write the novel which was dramatised in 1936 by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Maureen O’Hara and then again in 1982 when it starred Jane Seymour.

The story was inspired from an outing that Daphne and a friend had when they were staying at Jamaica Inn and went riding on the local moors. They got lost in bad weather and supposedly sheltered for a while at a derelict cottage on the moor, but were eventually led back to Jamaica Inn by their horses.

During her stay at Jamaica Inn, Daphne Du Maurier also met and talked with the parson from the nearby church at the quaint village of Altarnun (where I myself lived for around 10 years). The story tells the tale of Mary, a recently orphaned young woman who goes to live with her Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss Merlyn, the evil landlord of Jamaica Inn and the mystery surrounding her uncle’s business - smuggling along the Cornish coast.

The Chain Locker, Falmouth, Cornwall
The Chain Locker, Falmouth, Cornwall
The Chain Locker, Falmouth, Cornwall
The Chain Locker, Falmouth, Cornwall

The Chain Locker, Falmouth, Cornwall, England

This place has to be one of my top three pubs anywhere as this was my most favourite haunt when I was at art college in Falmouth in the early 1990s.

It is jam-packed with character and charm with a roaring log fire, ship wheels on the ceilings as well as various historical and naval memorabilia dotted about the place.

It serves up excellent traditional Cornish fayre at reasonable prices and a great selection of local ales are there to be sampled.

The pub itself is located right on the harbour front and you can sit out by the wharf in the pubs' beer garden and watch the boats go by as the sun sets over the beautiful Cornish coast...ahh bliss!!

Tailors, Cheltenham
Tailors, Cheltenham

Tailors, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

Tailors is a lovely looking establishment in a beautiful pedestrianised area of the centre of Cheltenham and oozes charm both inside and out, offering customers comfortable surroundings, a chilled-out atmosphere and a fine selection of the best local and national ales available.

This stunning pub has two large outside seating areas with undercover heaters to sit and enjoy your lunch or simply chill out with friends.

A fine selection of homecooked foods are available at Tailors 7 days a week and the pub also has it's own cosy function room available for all types of private hire.
Tailors is a fine establishment and if ever in Cheltenham I recommend you check the place out, you'll be glad you did.

The Beehive, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
The Beehive, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

The Beehive, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

The Beehive is a great little pub tucked away in the backstreets of the Montpellier area of Cheltenham. It's a really friendly chilled-out little pub with it's own cosy beer garden and is the perfect place to eat meet and relax with either a choice local ale or a glass of wine.

It's an ideal stop-off on a summer's evening after mooching around the eclectic mix of Montpellier's shops and offers a really fine choice of food and drink all reasonably priced and served up in pleasant surroundings.

So, if it's a quiter pub your after away from the busy town centre, but still enjoying a happy little vibe all of it's own, then this place has to be on the list for sure.

I would certainly recommend the place to anyone!

Eagle & Child, Oxford
Eagle & Child, Oxford
Eagle & Child, Oxford
Eagle & Child, Oxford

The Eagle & Child, Oxford, England

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, a group of Oxford students met at the Eagle and Child in Oxford to discuss literature, writing and the trials and tribulations of life.

This group, who called themselves 'The Inklings' had many a meeting here at the pub also known as the Bird and Baby.

Members of this group included none other than C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and their many happy discussions at this establishment probably contributed to their most famous works of both Lewis' Narnia books and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series.

A special commemmarative plaque is situated on the wall in the middle of the pub close to the bar, as well as a couple of portraits.

There is also a framed paper bearing the signatures of Lewis, Tolkien, and other members of the 'Inklings', stating that they had frequently drunk to the landlord's 'good health'.there.

In addition to its historic and literary value, the Eagle and Child is also an ideal place to stop for good food and drink situated just a sone's throw, or a stagger, from the city centre.

The pub is certainly worth a visit be you a tourist or local alike and a must for any Lewis or Tolkien fans (like myself) out there.

Shadows of Mordor by Dave Harris
Shadows of Mordor by Dave Harris
The Turf Inn, Oxford
The Turf Inn, Oxford

The Turf Inn, Oxford, England

The Turf Tavern is probably one of the hardest pubs in Oxford to locate, but many local people in search of an authentic and traditional English pub experience manage to keep it thriving.

On any day of the week you'll find it full of university students, academics, families and tourists from all over the world in search of the tavern made famous by the long running Inspector Morse television series.

The fictional detective, as written by Colin Dexter, was only one of this pub's famous customers. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton also stopped by here while staying nearby.

The tavern can be found by turning down New College Lane, across from the Bodleian Library, pass under Oxford's famous landmark, the Bridge of Sighs and turn left into St. Helen's Passage, a very narrow alley where you may not be able to spread both your arms.

The passage opens up, just when you think you have taken the wrong route, and the tiny, 17th century Turf Tavern comes into view.

The Turf isn't Oxford's oldest public house, but parts of its foundations date back to the 13th century. Inside, as with the best traditional English pubs, it is a maze of small, oddly shaped rooms, connected by narrow passages, small staircases and two small, busy bars.

You really should take the time to find this very old little Oxford pub, it is certainly worth the visit.

The Head of the River, Oxford
The Head of the River, Oxford

The Head of The River, Oxford, England

The Head of the River is a very popular pub in Oxford and one of my favourites, mainly due to it's lovely location beside the river bank, so the setting is very picturesque.

The main attraction of this pub is it's outside seating on the terrace right next to the river, as when the weather is good, it’s hard to find a spare inch of space around this busy establishment with people watching the many varying levels of skilled punters attempting to navigate their way up and down the river.

The food there is very good, if a little pricey and the service is pleasant, but at the busy times you’ll have to allow extra time to be served.

A great place to meet friends to enjoy a pint or a bottle of wine on a summer's evening and I would certainly recommend a visit as you tour around Oxford's many splendid sights.

The Traveller's Rest, Cardiff, Wales
The Traveller's Rest, Cardiff, Wales

The Traveller's Rest, Cardiff, Wales

What can I say about The Traveller's Rest, apart from idyllic, perfect food, great service, lovely atmosphere and currently my local (around1mile from my home).

This is truly a fantastic little pub in every way, from it's picturesque location and chocolate-box style thatched roof to it's abundant range of high quality food and drinks, The Travellers Rest ticks all the boxes for me.

It can be found slap bang between the Welsh city of Cardiff and it's nearby neighbouring town of Caerphilly, famous for it's castle and it's cheese.

The pub is certainly one of my favourites and worthy of being in my top 10, it's well worth the visit be it for a meal or just a drink on a summer's evening.

The Punch & Judy, Covent Garden, London
The Punch & Judy, Covent Garden, London

The Punch & Judy, Covent Garden, London, England

The Punch and Judy pub in Covent Garden in London is one of my all-time favourite pubs and it's location is key to that.

Named after the famous puppet show, the pub has a super location overlooking the Covent Garden Piazza and street artists perform outside the pub at regular intervals throughout the day and evening.

The pub's slogan is "A place to meet friends old and new" and it's just like two pubs in one.  Downstairs is a cellar bar formed from stone and brick with a designated dining area.  Great traditional pub food is cooked to order and can be eaten anywhere in the pub. 

Upstairs is a wine bar with high ceilings and modern décor and there is a sun balcony there also where you can watch the shows on the streets of Covent Garden below.  Both bars offer a chilled-out atmosphere to enjoy a quality drink among friends. 

A great place to meet friends for a drink and watch the street acts or have a nice intimate meal in it's cellar bar, well worth visiting if your ever in London.


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    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      6 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Hi favouriteperfume, I will indeed check it out next time I am passing through as I often pop up from Cardiff to Cheltenham to see friends, a detour to Malvern shouldn't be too difficult, thanks for the nod!

    • favouriteperfume profile image


      6 years ago from Malvern, UK

      Come and try The Nags Head in Malvern some time!

    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      7 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Hi superwags, they both sound very interesting, I was listening to a documentary on Beatrix Potter's life on the radio just yesterday. When I visited the Lake District a couple of years ago, I stayed in Keswick and only really spent time there, Windermere and Ambleside, so didn't come across Coniston or Near Sawry, maybe next time I am up that way I'll check them out.

      At least with this field it's a "work in progress":)

    • superwags profile image


      7 years ago from UK

      Can I recommend the Tower Bank Arms in Near Sawry in the Lake District (little village famous for Beatrix Potter) and also The Sun in Coniston (also Lake District) - about 400 years old and absolutely beautiful.

      None from the North East either! I might have to write a similar hub about my top five; let's get a community together here - is that possible?!

    • Dave Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave Harris 

      7 years ago from Cardiff, UK

      Hi Ritsos, I couldn't possibly comment on Nottingham pubs as I have never been there, but I am sure you probably have some great pubs there too, why not write a hub about them and let us know.

      Hi Tracy, thanks very much, was a pleasure researching this one!

      Hey Scarytaff, thanks for stopping by, I have only lived in Wales for around 3 years, but The Travellers Rest is certainly a firm favourite of mine already.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      7 years ago from South Wales

      Great hub, Dave. Nice to see a Cardiff pub in there. Cheers.

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 

      7 years ago from Virginia, USA

      I am not much of a drinker but I loved seeing the photos of the hubs steeped in character. The Punch and Judy pub would be my first stop. Great hub!

    • Ritsos profile image


      7 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Wot .. no Nottingham pubs ... tut tut :-)


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