This General Has Been Demoted To The Ranks

The Havelock

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It is now just the Havelock, the General has been demoted back to the ranks although the ranks did appear to be enjoying singing to the juke box and watching the horse racing on one of the many TVs.

Refreshed and re-opened, this renowned heritage pub has an updated appearance that belies its history and thankfully, the Grade 2 listed and protected tiled pictures that make up one wall have been preserved.

In some ways, the Havelock is more luxurious with its light coloured paint, comfy chairs, carpets and wooden flooring but it is early days and with beer at £2.50 a pint, that pristine gloss may soon disappear.

Thankfully for me, there was an alternative to the lager offerings of the two T-bars and the Doomed on handpump in the excellent Tim Taylor’s Landlord. A pint to enjoy with time to savour the tiled picture of the Battle of Hastings.

8.30pm on a Tuesday night was perhaps not the best time to visit the Havelock for a quiet pint, during the day might be better but those tiled wall pictures and the Tim Taylors were worth the visit.

In the fifteen years that I have lived in Hastings, ownership of this historic pub has changed more than once, and it has been closed two or three times with landlords struggling for profitability amidst rising town centre rents. If a juke box, TVs, a fruit machine and a weekly meat raffle keep the old General alive then I will be happy to include this new Havelock in ‘Beer Notes’ and in ‘Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards’.

Follow this link to read my original Blog posted in 2017

https://historywalksblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/the-general-havelock-to-the-pier-and-back/

The Havelock appears in ‘Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards’ and in the soon to be published

Beer Notes to ‘Capital to Coast, the Guide to Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’.

This pub guide is a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘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 Havelock will be No 64 and the final entry in the Beer Notes Guide.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

‘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

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Leather Bottle

Temptation: The Woodcock Flies Again

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Temptation, that desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. It can also suggest that it can be a thing that attracts or tempts someone suggesting enticement, seduction, a draw or a pull or equally an invitation.

And that to me sums up The Woodcock, a walk leaders’ nightmare, the pub that no one wants to leave.

But it closed in 2018 and appeared doomed, never to fly again but like a phoenix it has arisen again and it re-opened its doors in April 2019.

On 1066 Harold’s Way, there are still 6 miles to walk to Bodiam Castle, uphill and down dale and across the Kent Ditch. King Harold and his men walked this stretch but The Woodcock wasn’t open then. And when planning Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House, I made sure that the route passed The Woodcock after all, I get to choose the route.

The good and righteous of Iden Green realised what a draw the pub would be and banished it a mile away from the village, down a narrow country lane that led to Dingleden but the villagers I spoke to know the back way – just 5 minutes down this path and on the route of 1066 Harold’s Way, and I followed their admission.

The 2019 version of The Woodcock has been refreshed rather than altered beyond recognition. A couple of walls have disappeared, some of the nooks and crannies have gone, the new bar is sleek and bright, the fire is lit and the floors levelled ready for the success that eluded the Woodcock of old.

Once it felt like an old and comfortable pair of slippers where the slightly dark atmosphere and the warmth of the fire and the conviviality of old men at the bar promised times past until Greene King’s accountants became the owners.

Mind your heads, the beams are low there’s a fire lit and on warm days, there is a garden to enjoy. It is a free house again and beers are Cellar Head Amber, Long Man Best, Harveys Best, all on handpump and well kept.

There is still an old world feel but it is without ornamentation and just a little of that old warmth that catered for the mind, body and spirit has gone – perhaps a wider market beckons for The Woodcock although a television was being screwed to the wall as I left!

But, lunchtime on an Autumn day, sitting around the fire, talking amongst friends, it will still prove hard to leave and continue the walk to Bodiam Castle.

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 Woodcock  will be No 49 in Beer Notes

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Woodcock