Monday, 2 July 2007

Lighting up for the last time at The Falkland Arms

Saturday 30th June 2007 was the last day before the smoking ban came into force in England.

We spent the evening at The Falkland Arms in Great Tew (OX7 4DB, Tel: 01608 683653, website). Tradition hung as heavy as the fug of smoke, as drinkers enjoyed cigarettes, cigars and pipes indoors for the last time. The Falkland is renowned for its selection of snuff and loose tobacco. I've never been a smoker, but thought I may as well mark the occasion by toking on a clay pipe.

The pub itself is a great place I'd heartily recommend. The unspoiled building dates back to the 16th century, when it was known as The Horse and Groom. The current name recalls Lord Falkland, who inherited the Great Tew manor in 1629. A Royalist, he was killed at the battle of Newbury. One of his descendants, the 5th Viscount, gave the family's name to the British islands in the South Atlantic. The oak-beamed interior is a treasure trove of breweriana, the ceiling completely covered with hanging pint and quart pots.

Three of the beers were from Wadworth, the Wiltshire brewery to which the pub is tied. Guests came from Thwaites, Fullers and Wychwood. Wadworth Summersault and Fullers Summer Ale were adequate thirst quenchers, best described as lager substitutes. Wychwood Owzat had much more character, with a tangy, earthy flavour not usually found in this kind of beer.

Although the selection was restricted to bitters and summer ales - the curse of the English pub - everything was in perfect condition. The massive pork pies and cheese plates, served in lieu of dinner, also won plaudits from our party.

The Falkland even has celebrity endorsement: Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame was sat at the next table to us. You can spot him in the background on one of the photos above. He wasn't alone. Despite sporting a dodgy tache and white socks, he seems to have bagged a stunna. Well done, grandad.


  1. I often fancied a pipe. It would be great for gesturing with whilst pontificating on the issues of the day!

  2. I had a tutor at uni who smoked a pipe during tutorials. First time I went round to his room he was sitting drinking a pint of bitter, mid-morning. He was a doddery old fella who used to keep forgetting his pipe and letting it go out, prompting an elaborate re-lighting process which always involved him striking a match off the bottom of his shoe. Aye, well if he's still around he'll no longer be able to puff away on his pipe during tutorials - he'll no doubt substitute it for asking more questions about cricket of the 1950s and referring to everyone (inc. girls) as 'young man'...

  3. I'm a pipe fiend and enjoy the odd puff on my meerschaum. As John says, its tendency to imbue one with rhetorical prowess is wonderful. However, I find a fill of Peterson's Deluxe Blend tends not to mix well with beer. It also rots your gums something awful.

    And yes, I did take it down the local on the last day of smoking-in-pubs back in March 2004.

  4. Pie Tasting WhorstJuly 03, 2007 1:24 am

    When are we going to hear about lifting multi pints and staggering into an Indian for a Vindaloo or Phal? You guys appear to be relatively civilized, besides the Molotov Ale Bomb you transported via train.

  5. Which Thwaites did they have? They're one of my favourite brewers.

  6. Whorst - we did have a kebab from a van in Chipping Norton the night before. Not particularly lairy but better than nowt!

    Andy - the Thwaites beer was Bomber.

  7. Nice! Their best one. Thwaites has done a good job of not ruining it after taking over Mitchell's.

    Shame Patrick Stewart didn't offer to buy you a drink....

    PS: "Fancy a pint?"
    S: "Beamish me up, Captain...."

  8. So there was an extra day in June this year, was there?

    Patrick Stewart is a good lad - a keen Huddersfield Town fan, proving his intellect and good sense.

  9. But what was Patrick Stewart *drinking*? I'm guessing red wine. Or WKD.

  10. He appeared to be drinking whisky with water...

  11. "Water with that?"
    "Make it soda."

  12. By then it was too late. I had seen everything.

  13. No he wasn't; he was on the beer. The lass was on the whiskey. I inspected him at the bar y'see...


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