The Queen’s Head Sedlescombe


The epitome of a beautiful English pub, tile hung, deep red bricks add the lustre of another age. Originally 15th century, there have been additions and extensions since Queen Elizabeth I’s time but the mellow brick walls remain and possibly the fireplace although those tiles are 19th century and ‘lie over the original beams and plaster for additional weather-proofing’ (Twenty Centuries in Sedlescombe by Beryl Lucey)

A hint of William Morris, creeper covered walls, brick paving and shrubs by the front door invite you to enter. Luckily, this is no pastiche for there is an attention to detail inside this now dining pub with a bar.

Times change, that country pub devoted to beer has long gone, thankfully in the case of The Queen’s Head for a few years ago the pub was doomed, dying on its feet, dark rooms, insipid beer and what food was available was advertised on fluorescent stickers pinned to the wall behind the bar.

Now food is the driver and excellent it is too with fish and chips and prime beef burgers amidst the risottos, sea bass duck breast and the ‘Specials Board’.  The fish platter shared was very good and despite the walk from Bodiam Castle I forwent beer for a chilled white wine and a pint of soda water on this hot day sat in the garden – very un-Rambler like.

It has that comfortable air inside with little rooms, old table and odd chairs, fires in winter and this particular July Thursday afternoon, a choir rehearsing in the back room.

Service too is very good, attentive without being demanding.

Increased trade has increased the quality of the beer with Harvey’s Best, Long Man Blonde, Sharpe’s Doom and Fuller’s Oliver Island on offer on my walking day.

Remember before you leave add a few coins to the collecting box on the bar – for the village geese – and be especially careful when you drive away to avoid the noisy birds.

I was walking 1066 Harold’s Way (Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey via Sedlescombe) inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings.


It is the final section of this long-distance walk, from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, and with just three miles to go it is worth stopping for a pint.


The Queen’s Head, The Green, Sedlescombe, East Sussex, TN33 0QA  Tel.  01424 870228



A Little Medieval Imagination

Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards

A Daytripper’s Taste of Hastings and St Leonards

East Hill, All Saints Street, The Cinque Post Arms and The Royal Standard

Paint Steps

Bracing East Hill announces the start of Hastings Country Park that stretches almost 4 miles – all the way to Fairlight along the Saxon Shore Way and even further to Winchelsea and Rye. It is a coastline of ancient woodland, heath and grassland, of dramatic cliffs and hidden coves ideal for landing smuggled brandy for the parson.

Another day, you might want to do that walk with a pub stops at the Smuggler (Cliff End), The New Inn (Winchelsea) and The Mermaid (Rye) with the bus back to Hastings. There are full walk instructions in History Walks 4 – ‘Hastings to Rye, Rye to Hastings’ available from the usual outlets and from History Walks.

But today it is a shorter walk, up and across East Hill, with the reward of picture postcard views of Hastings and St Leonards and the coastline all the way around to Eastbourne and Beachey Head. If you do not do steps, take the funicular railway to the top of East Hill. Opened in 1903 it is the steepest such railway in the country.

The open grassland on East Hill hides traces of archaeological activity spanning at least 4000 years and bounded by earthen ramparts. The earliest boundary walls may well belong to the 1st Millennium BC and are similar to a number of other promontory forts that date from the Iron Age. The raised area at the top of the hill is believed to be the site of a medieval graveyard, perhaps on top of an earlier Iron Age barrow, and to be there on a windy day sets your cheeks aglow.

Hastings Old Town is still a delightful mix of half-timbered houses, narrow streets and passageways and is home to the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe. Coastal erosion, sea damage and silting reduced the effectiveness of Hastings as a port. The ports of Rye and Winchelsea quickly outgrew Hastings until, the great storms of the late 14th century, when serious flooding, damaged most of Hastings along the Bourne.

Walking along All Saints Street you can see the evidence of the rebuilding in some of the oldest surviving houses in Hastings. They give the Old Town a medieval feel and much to talk about over a pint at The Cinque Port Arms or The Royal Standard.

A fitting end to a fine walk.

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Crinkle, Crankle!

1066 Harold’s Way Walk 4

Dartford to Istead Rise

Dartford is 1066 Harold’s Way gateway to the Downs and the Weald.

Walk 4 v2a

Crossing Watling Street, now Dartford’s High Street, we can say our goodbyes to London. Away from the River Darent, 1066 Harold’s Way climbs up to give a first taste of the North Downs and the beautiful views south over the Darent Valley and west along the line of the Downs towards Surrey. There is just the hint of a hidden population amidst the rolling hills and valleys, lush fields and rows of trees, as far as the eye can see.

The landscape changes as we pass under the A2 and then the M25 and the noise of the traffic gives way to the solitude of a church built from the rubble of a Roman villa 1000 years ago. It stood as Harold passed. This is old Saxon land that we are walking and Harold would have drawn support here, and on the rest of the march, for his important battle ahead.

For Harold and his army, there were only 12½ miles to march to Rochester but our quiet meanderings, away from speeding Motorway traffic, will add another 6 miles to the journey.

It is good to walk across grassland, by paddocks and fields of crops, through woods and country parks, past the occasional farm and into villages that were once prosperous but seem to have now lost their heart, with the closure of pub, post office and shop.

Despite the changes, their character still remains, from the quarry houses of Bean to the ‘crinkle crankle’ wall at Betsham.

Southfleet is different. It is old with a long history and equally important an old pub, ‘The Ship’, to savour 1066 Harold’s Way.

Walk 4 v1

Southfleet is in stark contrast to the ‘new’ village of Istead Rise with its estates, shops and important bus links but it is without a pub to provide a toast at the end of the walk.

Watch ‘Memories of 1066 Harold’s Way on You Tube

Link: The Ship, Southfleet

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History Walks, 1066 Harold’s Way and The Saxon Times


Perfidy Banned

Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards – Walk 4

A Daytripper’s Taste of Hastings 

The Albion (formerly The Royal Albion)

To paraphrase Samuel Johnson “when a man is tired of George Street, he is tired of life; for there is in George Street all that life can afford.”
I do like the hustle and bustle of George Street, whether during the day or in the early evening, to take a coffee or sit with a pint and watch the world go by, funny as that world might be.

George Street is such a mix of pubs, eating places and coffee shops standing cheek by jowl to clothes shops, sweet shops, book shops and shops full of ‘collectibles’ that it is easy to while away the time.

There is almost too much temptation with Dragon, The Hastings Arms, Ye Olde Pump House and The Anchor but save yourself for The Albion, it offers something a little different and not a hint of ‘treachery’.

Albion 2 web

First licensed for drinks in 1730, The Albion – at the western end of George Street – is a fitting place to end the walk just a few minutes away from the start at Breed’s Place. With its subtly restored interior, this former William Younger’s house has retained the wood panelling and tartan panels of some Georgian drawing room.

There is a bar complete with boar’s head and a larger room with some tables set for eating around a wood burner. The Albion serve Tim Taylor’s Landlord, Harvey’s Best and a guest Dark Star Hop Head in a comfortable Arts and Craft setting and is a great place to end this pub walk.

But, if you do not want a beer, I would suggest Di Pola’s Gelateria, almost next door, for a couple of scoops of ice cream.

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Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards is available from Hastings Tourist Information, from The Bookkeeper, Kings Road, St Leonards and by mail order from

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The Curious Plough

Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards – Walk 4

A Daytripper’s Taste of Hastings – The Plough, West Hill

On West Hill, the grand terrace on Priory Road stands like a beacon but the next terrace has slightly less decoration and the next even less and so it goes on with rows of ordinary terrace houses, built at the back and hidden from the glorious views of their richer neighbours.

Continue up Priory Road, across Collier Road and The Plough, with its curious Dutch barn styled roof and white clapperboard facings stands on the left.

Plough 2

The Plough first opened as a beer house in 1835 before West Hill was developed in the 1870s. It stood in Mill Field with four windmills close by and even one in the Plough’s back garden, which may account for the barn style design. The last of the windmills was demolished in 1874.

The Plough is an intimate, cosy, warm and welcoming one roomed community pub. One corner suggests a front room and elsewhere exposed brickwork complements the wild retro lighting that creates a unique house, that is neither town nor country, in which to drink good beer – Harvey’s Best, Tim Taylor’s Landlord, a guest which was Jennings Cumberland and Old Rosie for the cider drinkers. Food is limited to filled cobs, crisps and nuts.

Watch the Walk on You Tube

Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards is available from Hastings Tourist Information, from The Bookkeeper, Kings Road, St Leonards and by mail order from

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To see all the walks and for details of how to buy: Click Here



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Wild and Desolate

1066 Harold’s Way Walk 3: Lesnes Abbey to Dartford


This is a mixture of the wild and desolate and the urban and industrial, of old paths and new roads, old bridges and new bridges, meandering rivers and canals built in hope, Saxon Manors and concrete architecture. We pass the detritus of modern urban and industrial re-development and the solitude of a Church that figured in history during King John’s reign.

It is a walk that reflects the dreams of men and often their failure, from the monks of Lesnes Abbey who fought to hold back the Thames to the navigators and entrepreneurs of Dartford, building a ship canal that could not cope with the pressure of the tide.

Erith belies its history and its royal connections. Once it shaped England with a Council between King John and the Barons to avoid further civil war and a French invasion. Later, it was to build ‘the greatest ship ever known’, the ship that took Henry VIIIth to France, to ‘the Field of the Cloth of Gold’. Now it is a modern town with little of the past on show. Its closeness to the Thames has left it with factories and depots obscuring the river but Erith leads to the wilderness of the Cray Marshes with the QE2 Bridge soaring above the landscape. Even with power stations, breakers yards and flood defences there is still a beauty about this salt marsh.

The land has been farmed for centuries and at a curve in the River Darent, a path leads to Howbury Manor, less than half a mile away and mentioned in the Domesday Book. It would have stood at the time of Harold and with the Roman road only 1½ miles to the south – perhaps Harold dropped in for a ‘beer or a wine’ with the owner.

Follow the Darent to Dartford with its industrial heritage of paper production and engineering. Although the factories and paper mills have gone under the breakers ball there is now space for new dreams to be fulfilled and the herald of a new age for Dartford.

1066 Harold’s Way is a 100mile long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, East Sussex, inspired by King Harold II’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The guidebook is available from good bookshops, Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and by mail order from History Walks.

Old Settles, Wooden Floors

Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards – Walk 3

A Taste of St Leonards – The St Leonard

At first glance, there is nothing to London Road except a mishmash of shop fronts, infills and traffic and that can often offend those more used to gleaming shopping centres and pedestrianised streets but you must look further into the character of both the shops and the people who belong to London Road.

My wife and I grew up in Nottingham and we both remember similar streets, indeed, my father had a thriving pharmacy on one such street now demolished. Everyone knew my father and so everyone knew me. St Anns Wells Road, Alfred Street and Arkwright Street all provided everything that you needed from sweet shops and cake shops, milliners, butchers and bakers, green grocers and grocers, a Home and Colonial, a Dewhurst’s, book shops and cafes, a pub on every corner and almost as many churches. To me, London Road is the same.

St Leonards PosterA pint in the CAMRA award winning St Leonard, creaking with atmosphere, old settles, wooden floors and life, helps the musings for ‘Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards’ and the forthcoming ‘Pub Walks in 1066 Country’.

The St Leonard is not some country pub but a warm and friendly town pub, refurbished in 2012, (it was formerly known as The Warrior Gate a corruption of the original 1833 name Warhouse Gate, taken from the name of an old lime kiln).

Now its wooden floors, mismatched tables and chairs, local art work and three regularly changing guest beers create a busy urban chic.

There is popcorn served with drinks and a food tasting menu available that includes sausage rolls, scotch eggs, charcuterie plate and pork pies and pizzas can be delivered to your table.

On one visit, I tried Brighton Bier South Coast IPA 5%, St Austell Trelawny 3.8%, Hogs Back TEA 4.2% and a taste of Prehistoric Amber 4.5%. All were well conditioned and well-kept but on the next visit, they are likely to have changed. Another time, I was impressed with the Franklins St Leonard, Franklins Greedy Guvnor as well as the Hogsback T.E.A.- again!

There is always a welcome and despite the restricted hours (Wednesday to Saturday 5pm -11pm and Sunday 3pm – 9pm) it is one to visit, to drink a pint and to sit and think – after all, they say that there is a book in us all! With such restricted opening hours it may be one to note in that black beer stained notebook to return to later.

If it is closed, there is consolation opposite in The Oak Bakery where money can be invested in their wonderful and moreish ‘Portuguese tarts’!

Check out the walk on clip_image002

Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards is available from Hastings Tourist Information and from The Bookkeeper, Kings Road, St Leonards and by mail order from

Discover and Explore Walks from History Walks

To see all the walks and for details of how to buy:Click Here



CAMRA WhatPub, Hastings Tourist Information, Stagecoach