A while back, when we started this series, I tried to be meticulously correct about getting pub names correct: “The Kings Arms”. But is it with or without the definite article? With or without the possessive apostrophe? (Singular or plural possession?). It’s safe to say, I’ve concluded that there is no “correct” answer most of the time, but it’s still interesting to note the variations. (For those interested by such things, see also The Underground and the Apostrophe and Should Kings Cross have an apostrophe). Anyway, this pub at least variously calls itself The Kings Arms (front of building, and pub sign); Kings Arms (old pub sign, on display inside); and The King’s Arms (lunchtime menu).
RealAleRocks and I visit early on a weekday evening (the above photo was taken another day). Outside, facing onto the busy A6 main road, it’s all white-painted walls and that familiar Greene King signage. There’s a small step down as you enter, and the ceiling’s quite low; inside it’s gloomy, but not dark; and it’s rather pleasingly quiet. This is a pub of several distinct areas, with lots of little steps up and down between them (great for interest value; terrible for accessibility). In this area, it’s all wooden flooring, partitions with exposed timbers, a barrel or two as tables.
The bar’s just at hand, on the left. Nice little detail: the rail at the bar is held in place by a row of elephants:
This place does tend to offer more than just the usual Greene King brews, and today is no exception. On the bar, the handles today have Greene King IPA, (GK) Old Speckled Hen, Oakham JHB, and Wadworth St George And The Dragon; the taps serve Stella, Fosters, Carlsberg, Guinness, Guinness extra cold, and Somersby cider. We take away a pint of the JHB and a pint of the Wadworth, for £7.80.
Around the bar area, there’s a fruit machine, a dartboard with rubber oche mat on the floor, a jelly bean machine, some sort of video quiz game thing, and, next to the front window, a rather nice table with a chessboard pattern:
To the right hand side, again up a step, there’s a little space which just about accommodates a pool table, with two men playing. Either side of the pool table, there are narrow benches, not really wide enough to sit on comfortably, which is just as well as if anyone was sat there, there probably wouldn’t be enough room for the pool players anyway. Picking my moment between shots, I make my way past them, to another small room beyond (and up another step, if I remember correctly); there’s a couple of tables here, including one which, rather curiously, seems to have a bed headboard and footboard. On the wall, three large mirrors, covered in pump clips of ales served in days past (higher-res photos, in case you want to read the clips):
We head instead through to the rooms at the back of pub. Up a few steps from the bar, and into the back room, with its big mirrors, shelf full of wines, and projector screen in the corner. There’s also a smallish TV, and a couple of speaker stands, but no speakers right now. We carry on though, down some steps to the right, and into the conservatory.
At this time of day there’s plenty of daylight still – no need for the uplighters, the suspended lamps, nor indeed the candelabra (with one bulb blown). There’s one long table to seat about ten, and several smaller tables, some with chairs, one with stools. On at least one of the tables, there’s a gin & tonic menu.
It’s often interesting to see what artwork or other decorations are on display. In one corner of the conservatory, it’s a picture of various different birds, whilst in another, it’s picture frames showing off a collection of bank notes: from the UK, from Ireland, and all around the world. Oil lanterns adorn the lintels. And then, a little more local history: mounted in the roof of the conservatory, off to one side, is one of this place’s old pub signs, just above the view out to the beer garden.
The music plays quietly: Little Mix, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley. As the evening draws on, the music gets turned up, but only slightly.
For a large pub, it started off quite quiet here: two men and a woman in their 30s at one table, a woman in her 40s in the conservatory, the men playing pool, a man and a woman in their sixties – but he seems to have come in to set up speakers on those speaker stands. Ah, yes: it’s quiz night. It’s approaching half past eight now, and getting busy in the back here: most of the tables in the back room and the conservatory are now used, and presumably we’re the only ones not here for the questions. We’ve enjoyed our pint or two anyway: it’s time to move on.
Back out onto the main road, and the sign next to the front door reads “Live music. Quiz nights. Lunchtime food”, and so forth. I suppose that’s all good and useful, but I’d much rather know about the chess table, the elephants at the bar, and the old pub sign in the ceiling. But if they advertised that out the front, that’d take away the fun of discovery.
Images by GirlMeetsPint, CC BY 4.0