It doesn’t get much better than this: three 14th Century pubs within 20 metres, a village green, market cross, community bus route and a door you can’t fit under. Alfriston oozes English country life like no other place I’ve been in England. It took us 2 hours from London, but the train trip was worthwhile, a relaxing day chilling out in this small village, making the most of the amazing pubs and sunshine on offer. Brett’s belated birthday present was planned and we took it in our stride to tick off three of the oldest pubs I’ve ever had a beer at.
Alfriston in 60 seconds
Alfrison (East Sussex) can apparently be traced back to the late Stone Age period, through a set of mounds that lie in the surrounding areas – I’ll take their word for it, we didn’t see any mounds. Judging by the size of the place, I’d say there are around 1,000 people living in the village, but obviously this could shoot up to 1,500 when the tourists decide to flock in. What’s on offer:
- Village Green, Church and Clergy House: This would be the biggest open area in the village, a good spot to hang out in on a sunny day. The Clergy house is perfect for anyone who craves old buildings – the sign outside told us that it was the first house to be purchased by the National Trust. We simply took an obligatory photo outside and moved on.
- Streets and Market Cross: The tiny streets and lanes are worth a wander, although nothing stands out as a ‘must see’, the whole place makes you feel as though you’ve gone back in time. As I’ve said before, this just oozes ‘village’ with tiny houses, english country gardens and house names like ‘Old Coach Cottage’ and ‘Alfriston House’. The Market Cross is unavoidable, standing produly in the centre of the town – it’s also the drop off and pick up point for local bus services.
- River and Countryside: Two minutes walk from the main street and you can be standing in ankle high grass looking over green farmland and a river. There is a clearly cut path along the river and through the farmland that plenty of people seemed to be taking. Worth spotting is the natural spring that sits just to the right of the bridge over the river.
- Shopping: You can if you want (there are a few small shops), we didn’t, there were other priorities…
The Main Event: The George, The Star, Ye Olde Smugglers Inne
The pubs. A couple of kwi lads weren’t going to spend all day walking through the village without spending some quality time in the pub and Alfriston serves up some of the finest examples of English Pub life that I’ve ever seen. A quick run down on what’s on offer:
The George Inn
Licensed back in 1397, the inn is a picture perfect example of ‘An English Country Pub’
The Pitch: A two storied stone and half timber inn, accomodation upstairs and a bar, restaurant and big outdoor garden bar downstairs. Outside it looks like your typical English inn, on the inside it feels just the same – heavy beams, hops hanging from the ceiling, large fireplaces and a whole lot of random relics. I stayed there 6 years ago and the rooms are magic, they even have curved walls due to the age of the building.
The Beer: Local ales with the normal line-up of lagers, you can’t miss having an ale in a pub like this – it would be like not drinking wine in France.
Don’t Miss: Spending an hour or so in the garden bar out the back, a quiet spot perfect for cider in the sun. Find out more at their website
The Star Inn
The Star is again a 14th Century pub, that was originally based around religion and smuggling – they turned out a good place to drink whatever they tried to achieve
The Pitch: Across the road from The George, The Star holds some pretty interesting history. It was run by monks and would house pilgrims who were on their way to the Shrine of St Richard – it was considered a holy house. Smugglers made the most of it’s status as a holy house – anyone who entered the inn was granted instant protection of the church, a pretty easy way to keep out of the way of the law. The pub still has it’s authentic feel, with it’s heavy beams and low ceilings.
The Beer: A couple of ales were on tap, and a few lagers – not quite as wide selection as the George but a beer here can’t be missed.
Don’t Miss: Checking out the red lion out the front, which was bought to the inn by smugglers after they found it on a beach on the south coast – it’s thought to be from a Dutch warship. Find out more at their website
Ye Old Smugglers Inn
Not much more needs to be said about this pub, dating back to 1385, it’s hay day (1800’s) was when smuggling was in full force.
The Pitch: According to their website, it was owned by Stanton Collins, who took it upon himself to turn it into a smugglers den. There was a local undercurrent of smugglers who, organised by Stanton, would head down to the south shores and bring back hot goods. I’d assume the guy ran a lot out of the pub and beer was the least of his worries. Now it’s full with ales, has a nice garden bar and is worth a look around as you can still see the odd nooks around the building where I’m sure planning was carried out.
The Beer – a good range of ales and lagers, we went for a hop head ale and sank it while standing by the wood pile out in the garden bar.
Don’t Miss: Wandering through the bar, checking out the relics and finding the random nooks and crannies. Find out more at their website
A final look at the countryside around Alfriston: