Friday 11th September 2015
The Allied Arms is the type of pub you don’t see so often these days. It’s a town-centre two-bar house that offers a good selection of beer yet does not serve food. Once, Reading had many examples of this style of pub but there are very few these days. One can only hope that it stays that way. As it is owned by Enterprise Inns, there is no guarantee.
The pub is located in the most historic part of Reading, very close to the Grade I listed St Mary’s Church. This is the area of the original Saxon settlement. The church was rebuilt in the 16th century and incorporated parts of a Saxon predecessor. The pub is also listed at Grade II. This says it has a 19th Century gable end covering the front of a 16th Century timber-framed building. This looked particularly good when I visited as it was decorated with hanging flower baskets.
There is a partially covered cobbled yard along the right side of the building that is accessed through large double wooden doors which are open when the pub is trading. I would guess these once led to stables.
The small front bar can reached through a door from the street or alternatively from the yard through a door that leads to both bars. It is quite small with wooden furniture and an old church pew. Heraldic shields and picture adorn the walls.
The wooden bar counter in the rear room has beautiful carved beading edging. There are several mirrors including one behind the bar that displays the name of the pub. As with the front bar there are many paintings, photographs and maps of old Reading. There are wooden tables with stools and chairs that give a traditional pub feel.
There is a door from this room that leads to a long narrow garden that also has many plants as decoration.
There are two regular beers: Sharp’s (Rock, Cornwall) Doom Bar (4.2%) along with the local Loddon Brewery (Dunsden, Oxfordshire) Hullabalo (4.2%). When I called in the guest beers were: Butcombe (Wrington, Somerset) Gold (4.4%); Wye Valley (Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire) HPA (Hereford Pale Ale) (4.0%) and Moorhouse’s (Burnley, Lancashire) Pride of Pendle (4.1%).
For those who like cider Weston’s Old Rosie (7.3%) is always on the bar. On my visit this was supplemented by Rosie’s Pig (4.6%) and Henry Weston’s Country Perry (4.5%). These are all made by Weston’s of Much Marcle, Herefordshire.
Although there is no food available they sell the usual packaged snacks. There’s a quiz every second Wednesday in the Month. This pub and its garden are a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle outside.
The Allied Arms, 57 St Mary’s Butts, Reading RG1 2LG. Tel: 0118 958 3323
Open: Monday 17.00-2300; Tuesday-Saturday 12.00-23.00. Sunday: Closed
The pub is in the centre of town and is easy to reach on foot from the railway station.
From the railway station come out on the town side at the bottom of the four escalators, cross to Station Street opposite. Walk along this street, cross over Friar Street and go into Queen Victoria Street on the other side. Then turn right into Broad Street. Continue along here until you reach St Mary’s Butts on the left. Turn into this street and you’ll find the pub on the left. It should take around ten minutes.
The station is reached in 25 minutes from London Paddington and is a major hub for Cross-Country and the Great Western Railway Companies. The town centre has buses to all areas of Reading provided by the excellent Reading Buses Company.