Suffolk/Essex: ‘Hidden gems’ feature in guide to Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs

Jamie Fookes fills up a pint at the Butt & Oyster in Pin Mill

Jamie Fookes fills up a pint at the Butt & Oyster in Pin Mill - Credit: Archant

ENTERING some Suffolk pubs can feel like stepping into a bygone age.

Now some of the most unusual and historic drinking establishments in the region are being celebrated in a new book. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has highlighted some of the “hidden gems” of British pub architecture in Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs.

The book features 270 pub interiors of outstanding historic interest, including the Butt & Oyster in Pin Mill, the King’s Head – also known as the Low House – in Laxfield and the Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds, which claims to be the smallest pub in Britain.

Launched to coincide with CAMRA’s AGM in Norwich and available to purchase from the May 6, the book is an “illustrated celebration of pub interiors”, from rural time-warps, Victorian and Edwardian drinking palaces to inter-war boozers, that have altered little in the last 80 years.

Author Geoff Brandwood, of CAMRA’s Pub Heritage Group, said the project had involved close collaboration with English Heritage.

He said: “Our pubs have been changed so much during the past half-century that ones with genuine historic interiors are now incredible rarities.

This book identifies the top 270 of these national treasures and presents a unique picture of the diversity of interior styles spanning a century or more.”

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The Butt & Oyster lies on the banks of the River Orwell and in the old days would be full of bargemen and sailors enjoying a pint.

The King’s Head is one of the very few pubs left in Britain that has no bar – instead, you go in the tap room at the back where beer drinkers can survey the array of barrels and request whatever takes their fancy.

Landlord Bob Wilson said: “We uphold the traditions of what a proper country pub should be – we serve beer straight from the barrel.”

The Nutshell, in The Traverse, Bury, may be small but boasts a host of unique features, including a mummified cat hanging from its roof.

Manager Jack Burton added: “We try to keep it as unchanged as possible – to protect its character “We quite often get visits from people who read about us in beer guides and books, so it’s very good to be in this new one.”

Other pubs in the guide include the Margaret Catchpole in Ipswich, the Cock Inn in Brent Eleigh and the Queen’s Head in Tolleshunt D’Arcy.

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