Saturday 17th October 2015
I think that the Crown pub is on the way to getting close to the notional idyllic English village pub. It’s in a small community five miles south-east of the Island’s administrative centre, Newport. The village boasts an ancient church and many thatch-roofed houses. It is also lucky to have retained its post office / shop; in most hamlets of this size it would have been long gone.
The village church, St Peter’s, has its origins in the 12th Century, although the majority of what we see today dates from a rebuilding in 1440. There was once another pub that also acted as a small hotel. It was named as The Five Bells which is the number housed in the tower of the adjacent church. It closed in 1918 and its licence was withdrawn. It’s now known as Five Bells Cottage and can be rented by the week for holidays.
The Castle, like most of the other buildings in the village, is Grade II listed. The description says it is of late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth century build. I have seen claims that it is earlier, but I think I trust the official description as these are written by professionals. It has received a few rebuilds over the years and an extension was added during the last twenty.
It is constructed of Isle of Wight stone and is to be found on a bend in the road. This is where its traditional sign hangs just above what was once an entrance.
It would be quite dangerous these days to go into the pub that way. The roof is covered by slate tiles. At what was the front, opposite the church, there is another entrance door with a gabled porch reached through a small garden. This also, is no longer in use.
As implied from the above, the pub has been reversed with the entrance at what was the rear and it takes one through the recent extension. Around this doorway is an outside drinking area with wooden garden furniture surrounded by a wicket fence. A stream circumnavigates the property and this contains trout and a number of ducks make it their home. There was a dead tree protruding from below an outbuilding out over the stream. This has now become “King Trout”, a carving of a giant leaping fish wearing a crown!
The interior of the pub is classic and the newer extension has enable the bar area to become the centre of the pub making it possible to walk 360º around it. As we entered the bar was directly in front of us. There was a small room to the right. By turning left we came across another room that was part of the original pub. This is where we settled and noticed the beautiful brick-built fireplace. There is some very old black-painted wooden panelling here dating from the early 19th century, as mentioned in the listing notes.
There was also a serving area in this room and a very old built-in dresser displaying a collection of pottery in the willow pattern style. I then went for a walk into what would have once been the front room of the pub with naturally, another bar counter. This had a newer brick fireplace with a cast iron wood-burning stove within. It has a large oval mirror above and the room contains some alcove-like seating with tables.
I continued my circular journey and entered a large L-shaped room. I had led myself back to the modern extension although you wouldn’t know it. There was wooden panelling to waist height and red-painted walls above. The furniture is loose wooden chairs with varnished tables. There were a few pictures on the walls in this room. There is a piano here surmounted with an old valve radio.
I walked past the bar I saw initially and then through a small room that had a shelf along what was the old outside wall with some stools in front and a photographic history of Shorwell Football Club. So I arrived back where I started and into the impressive room where I had begun my walk around. One final feature I noticed here was the red-cushioned corner pew with a large framed monochrome map of the island on the wall behind.
So, what cask beers are on offer in this venerable pub? Well, the normal summer range is six with four being available in the winter. There were two regulars: Adnam’s (Southwold, Suffolk) Broadside (4.7%) and Goddard’s (Ryde, Isle of Wight)) Fuggle de Dum (4.8%).
The remainder on our visit were: Island Ales Brewery (Shalfleet, Isle of Wight) Hop Aboard (abv unknown), Timothy Taylor’s (Keighley, West Yorkshire) Landlord (4.3%); Wychwood (Witney, Oxfordshire) Hobgoblin Halloween (4.5%) and Ringwood (Ringwood, Hampshire) Fortyniner (4.9%). The last two being beers from breweries in the Marston’s empire which are very prominent around the Island. There was also Cornish Orchards (Duloe, Cornwall) Cornish Farmhouse Cider (5.0%).
Island Ales is a distributor of all things alcoholic to the Island’s pubs, bars and hotels. Commendably they have their own Island Brewery. Hop Aboard was a beer made specifically for the Beer and Buses event over this weekend. This is when old preserved buses operate to a timetable taking interested drinkers to the many cask ale pubs all over the island. It is run by the Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum in conjunction with CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale). Linda and I arrived and left this pub on old buses.
The pub was formerly owned by the Mew Langton Brewery of Newport. They closed in 1971. The pub offers a full menu and is a great destination at any time of the year. For those who believe in such, there is a female ghost that spills playing cards in the pub overnight. If you don’t, it doesn’t! The pub has good beer; in winter there are log fires and in summer there is the beautiful garden alongside the trout stream.
The Crown Inn, Walkers Lane, Shorwell, Isle of Wight, PO30 3JZ. Tel: 01983 740293
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10.30-23.00; Sunday 10.30-23.00
There is a bus service, of sorts. The No 12 runs Monday to Friday five times a day and four on Saturdays. There seem to be a few more in the evening during the summer months.
The route operates from Newport Bus Station to Freshwater and return.
It is possible to leave Newport at 13.35 arriving outside the Crown at 13.50.
It returns at 15.07, arriving at Newport 15.27.
Should you come from the Freshwater direction you could spend around one hour and forty minutes at the pub at lunchtime, please consult the timetable for details.
Of course, as the pub opens early, there are some other permutations of buses.