The word ‘pub’ derives from ‘public house’, first used in the 18th century and in common usage by Victorian times, when strict licensing laws were introduced to monitor the sale and consumption of alcohol. Tied houses – those attached to a particular brewery – were more widespread by this time and the publican managed the premises. Prior to this there were alehouses serving drink, taverns offering food as well as drink, and inns that provided accommodation and refreshment, particularly for travellers on the main coach routes between cities and towns.
One of the great pleasures to come out of this fascinating pub heritage is the historic buildings we frequent today. Grandiose coaching inns with rooms for travellers and stabling for horses were prolific by the Georgian period. Lots of these, most evident in charming market towns, still trade as inns and boast notable period features – beamed rooms, flagstone floors and huge open fireplaces. Rural inns, the focus of the local community, were often extended cottages set in gorgeous surroundings and resplendent with mellow stone, thatched roofs and low-beamed ceilings. While the ‘golden age’ of pub building in the Victorian and Edwardian eras saw elaborate interiors and ornate furnishings.
Unfortunately, as more and more rural pubs struggle as a viable commercial business, these architectural gems may well become harder to find. But there are still some great examples for visitors to enjoy. Many of these old buildings are harbouring a fascinating story behind their ancient facade or a long history of famous connections.
Situated in the heart of the picturesque Chiltern Hills, this well-run village pub offers fresh, locally produced food that you really want to go out for, and an excellent range of drinks.
A Lewes gem that you won’t want to miss! Tucked away on the edge of town down by the boat dock overlooking the chalk cliffs, this is the perfect place to finish a hike, particularly as many trails...
Claiming to be the only pub in the UK called The Polecat, this rather smart rural pub supporting a partial timber frame, dates back to the 1600s and is housed in an attractive former hunting lodge.
This unsung little gem of a pub, set in a delightful village in the heart of the Chilterns with a vineyard directly behind, brings back fond memories of what a real English country pub should be.
Standing right next door to an ancient Norman church, from the moment you approach The Chequers time stands still.
The Old Queens Head sits on the border between the villages of Penn and Tylers Green and is proud to find itself at the heart these two lovely communities.
It’s a wonderful treat to find such a good, traditional country pub, where good beer takes centre stage. This is first and foremost a drinkers’ pub.
The Peacock Inn stands in a truly unspoiled location at the very edge of the stunning Chiltern Hills, with inspirational views across the Oxfordshire and Buckingamshire countryside.
When you pull up outside the Swan Inn you’re sure to ask yourself ‘what more could I want than this Georgian, wisteria-clad pub standing in a stunning village location?'