Top of the list for us is the very highly regarded Nags Head on the edge of the historic Great Malvern Spa Town. A really great beer pub in my experience, with good food in the adjacent restaurant, a tidy beer garden, and a true 'pubby' atmosphere in the low-beamed somewhat labyrinthine interior. Yes, it attracts a slightly upmarket clientele, but this is a pub that’s anything but exclusive, in fact it's one of my (many!) desert island pubs. Down the hill at Barnards Green you’ll find The Morgan, a regular Hereford Pale Ale and Cheese & Onion Roll stop for me. It's a locals pub that also attracts the tourists like ourselves (including the odd Morgan car enthusiast I'm sure). Perhaps a smidgen more earthy than the Nags, but a pub you’d be more than happy to take your mum to, particularly in the Summer months when the beautifully maintained patio garden really comes into its own.
Which brings me to the largely residential area located to the north of Link Common, a more urban, or at least suburbun part of the wider Malvern community centred on the smaller Malvern Link rail station. The pubs in this area are of particular interest to me, being somethat less touristy, and a fair bit more 'Darts & Dominoes' in character. Practically all of these pubs are traditional 'locals' with a strong pub games interest, and this includes a cluster of venues for the local Mens and Ladies Skittles leagues.
The Beauchamp Arms certainly fits this mould. A fairly typical, largely unspoilt town centre boozer situated within a row of shops and other local amenities. It's also one of the closest pubs to the rail station, though equally accessible via a pleasant walk across the common from Great Malvern. An attractive, grade II listed building to the front, a pair of shallow bay windows flanking the entrance being the pubs principle historic feature. Inside, the pub has been opened-out at some point to a single bar area, though it's easy enough to discern the original three room layout from its 19th century origins as a Showell's Brewery pub.
Bar areas to the left and right feature original bench seating which follows the line of those big bay windows. Note too that the original heating pipes that would have kept drinkers warm in the winter are still in situ below this seating (right), a once common feature of basic bar rooms like this one. A number of Bell Pushes (above) also survive in what would have originally been the Lounge or Smoke Room, though now unused of course. This highly civilised aspect of bar service has now almost entirely vanished from pubs, though ironically table service is now back in vogue under the current social distancing rules. These bell pushes would have been used to summon a waiter or other member of staff for table service in the 'posher' of the three original rooms, usually incurring a small service charge for the privelage.
Today the Beauchamp is an entirely wet-led pub, a place for a chat over a pint, as well as the pub staples of games, televised sport, and until the recent national shut-down, a growing reputation for live music in the function room/skittle alley at the rear of the pub.
That almost all of the pubs in the Malvern area have now re-opened following the lockdown is heartening to see, but pubs like the Beauchamp will take a long time to get back to anything like normal under the current rules and restrictions. Bar rooms that would normally be alive with the rattle and hum of Darts, Dominoes, and Cribbage play are inevitably struggling with the social-distancing rules. Traditional pub games that are the lifeblood of community locals like the Beauchamp are exactly those which are deemed too risky, and therefore out of bounds. I very much look forward to a return visit to the Malverns area in the near future, ideally in happier, more socially interactive times when the Beauchamp Arms and other community locals in the area are free to trade at their very best.
The function room to the rear of the pub is entirely self-contained for entertainment of all kinds. There's a Pool Table, Dartboard, separate bar, and the kind of Skittle Alley that can be packed away so as to avoid it being a tripping hazard when not in use. The slatted playing surface is of course permanent, but the left-hand retaining wall is removable and stored behind a set of doors which conceal the actual business end of the alley (below) when not required.