Monday, 4 November 2013

Crown & Anchor, Northampton

The eastern side of Northampton town centre, an area broadly known as Abington, has always seemed to me to have an unusually high number of pubs. Perhaps even more unusual is that so many of them are still open and appear to be trading reasonably well.

This area is a classic mix of high density terraced housing and small businesses. Well serviced by restaurants and takeaways, and yet close enough to the town centre to be considered a part of the 'circuit', which all adds up to busier than average pubs I guess. There's a good mix of pubs, including several wet-led and largely traditional 'locals'. The Crown & Anchor, located just off the main Wellingborough road, is one such example, and like many back-street locals, maintains a strong gaming interest.

Indeed the website of the Crown & Anchor suggests that the name of the pub derives from an old dice game of the same name. I don't know how accurate this is, I've certainly seen other suggestions for the origin of this pub name, but the connection is reinforced in this case by a fine example of a Crown & Anchor gaming board which can be found displayed on a wall of the bar (above).

The game of Crown & Anchor is a simple gambling game using three specially marked dice. Believed to have a naval origin, but also a popular pub game at one time, though strictly speaking not a legal one so the game would have been played furtively if at all. Players stake money on one or more of the six symbols, with the payout determined by how many of the three dice come up favourably. Needless to say the odds are stacked firmly in favour of the banker. These days the game is usually found as part of a compendium which includes other dice games such as Poker Dice and Shut The Box.

Games which are still played at the Crown & Anchor include Darts, Pool, and Bar Billiards. The pub currently field two teams in the Northampton Bar Billiards League, and I believe this is the closest pub venue for the game to the town centre.

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