Friday, 15 April 2016

Hathern, Leicestershire

The trouble with visiting so many good pubs in pursuit of Britains unique games heritage (and good beer of course), is that I now have a list as long as a Yard of Ale of places I absolutely, definitely, must return to... one day! The sad fact is, I may never find the time to return to some of them, and the way things have been going in the licensed trade of late, who's to say how many will still be there when I do find time to revisit the very best of them.

Great pubs like the Dew Drop in Hathern are right up there at the top of my 'must return' list, in fact I'm definitely planning a return visit the next time I'm in nearby Loughborough with friends and a set of Dominoes. It's that kind of pub.

Unpretentious, well-run and welcoming, and possessing an indefinable 'rightness' that sets you at ease the moment you walk through the door. Even on a sleepy midweek lunchtime I found it a pretty hard pub to leave, the dark, moreish Greene King XX Mild going down all-too easily, the conversation flowing just as freely at the bar.

The Dew Drop is a fabulously unspoilt locals pub, largely unchanged since alterations in the 1930's, and as such it features on CAMRA's list of Heritage Pub Interiors. A Hardy's & Hansons brewery pub up until the Kimberley Brewery was acquired and summarily closed in 2006 by Greene King, hence the Kimberley Ales livery on the doors concealing the pubs Dartboard. Hence also the presence of a dark mild on the bar, albeit Greene King's version rather than the discontinued Kimberley Mild that would have been a firm favourite with the locals.

Hardy's & Hansons had a pub estate which stretched well into neighbouring Leicestershire, and like it's near competitor Shipstones, their pubs were predominantly traditional multi-room drinkers pubs like the Dew Drop. Many of these have now either closed for good, or changed beyond recognition, so the Dew Drop is a rare and important survivor. The tradition of bar-room games play also continues at the pub, with Dominoes and Darts played in local leagues. The licensee was also looking forward to welcoming a locally displaced Cribbage team to the pub when I visited, presumably victims of a nearby pub closure or crass refurbishment. Or maybe they just prefer the beer in the Dew Drop!

Of the four pubs in Hathern, the Dew Drop is certainly the most traditional and unchanged, but the Three Crowns (below), tucked away off the main road in the heart of the village, retains much of it's multi-room layout. It also retains a very good Skittle Alley, equipped for playing the local Leicestershire version of Long Alley Skittles. Note the murals painted at the business end of the alley featuring scenes from the village, including the nearby church and cross.

Sadly there are no teams playing out of the Three Crowns skittle alley at this time, but it is available to book for social functions. The main gaming activity at the pub is Pétanque (there is also a piste at the Anchor in the village), a very popular summer activity in this part of the county.

The Three Crowns fields three teams in the local 1990 Pétanque League, the floodlit piste at the rear of the pub (below) being large enough to accommodate all but the most poorly planned fixture clashes. Fixtures for the 2016 season get under way in May.

1 comment:

John Penny said...

What a fantastic pub! Must put it on my bucket list. Thanks for posting.