‘The clean and commodious village ale house’

The Leather Bottle (33)

Cobham Leather Bottle 3

Cobham will always suffer in that it is far too early in the walk to Rochester to stop for a drink or food. However, visiting the historic church and a look over the church wall at the New College took up enough time to enter The Leather Bottle when it opened at 11.30 and marvel at all the Dicken’s memorabilia on display that cover the walls of every room with Pickwick and Edwin Drood taking centre stage.

Dickens called the Leather Bottle ‘the clean and commodious village ale house’ in which stayed the love-lorn Mr Tracy Tupman of the Pickwick Papers after his rejection by Rachel Wardle.

The inn is said to have acquired its name when, about 1720, a leather-bound bottle containing gold sovereigns was found on the premises. At 11.30 in the morning, the Leather Bottle is largely empty of all the visitors and tourists that come to eat, for almost all the tables are set for food – it is after all, the archetypal English Country Inn of undoubted age, black beams, leaded windows and history. At that time in the morning, I had a coffee but Tim Taylor’s Landlord, Black Sheep and Leather Bottle Best were on offer for those in need of something a little stronger on the way to Rochester.

Distance from path:       On 1066 Harold’s Way

Food: Yes  Accommodation: Yes

54-56 The Street, Cobham, Gravesend. DA12 3BZ        Tel: 01474 814 327

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey and Hastings Castle inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The Leather Bottle will be No 33 in Beer Notes



The Leather Bottle

Drinking History

Walking 1066 Harold’s Way


The George Southwark



A cold evening and the courtyard outside the galleried George is beginning to fill up with Friday drinkers let loose from the office. Inside it is busy and soon to get busier.

Once, there were similar medieval inns in the alleyways that lined the road from London Bridge and a haven for travellers, thieves and gambling.

First recorded around 1543, this ‘new’ building dates from 1667 after being destroyed by fire and rebuilt exactly to the same plan as before allowing 21st century drinkers to experience that touch of history as Dickens did before.

The first room is the best of all the small rooms and bars that lie end on end stretching long and thin from the main road.

Set underneath the galleried first floor is a room that was most likely two rooms at one time, each with its own fire place. Black walls, black beams, lacquered with years of paint, black fireplaces, window seats, inglenooks and a wood burner that provides that hint of wood smoke for that true medieval experience.

The Parliament Clock remains from 1797 and there are still one or two dark wood tables and benches. In 1976, there were wooden floor boards, original and left bare, but these have disappeared and the room looks higher than I remember 40 years ago.

This is the bar in which to sit and drink that timeless pint before venturing on the Greenwich although after a visit The George, the walk may end early with a trip to Borough Market to round off the day. Greenwich can wait for another time.

Beers are Greene King with a special George Inn Ale on offer at 4% as well as GK IPA, GK Abbot Reserve 6.5%, Sambrook’s House Porter, Rocking Rudolph 4,2%.

IMG_20171117_172307547There were a few craft beers but my experiences of over-chilled pints and sterile taste are not something that I enjoy.

In the other bars, there are beams and pillars, stools and ledges and further along rooms with wood panelling, tables and chairs that has more a sense of Dickens than 1667.

Sit outside and in the early evening, the lights of The Shard reflect some future City of Dreams.

It is a tourist pub but one that is not a pastiche and one that should be visited at least once but is experienced at its best in the Parliament Bar.

77 Borough High Street, SE1 1NH Tel: 020 7407 2056