The Missing Pubs of Great Missenden

Bugle Inn: Closedpubs.co.uk

It’s Saturday October 17th. It isn’t but it was then and chronology is so yesterday. News arrives from the east (Newmarket) of the first sighting of the 2021 edition of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

Having already left home five hours earlier I relied upon telegrams and carrier pigeons to relay the contents, arriving at noon at the King’s Head in Buckingham’s rather charming High Street to usher in the good book with half of Silverstone Pitstop. It was in the wrong glass- Belgians would recoil – but it tasted marvellous.

Off and running then and next up was the Hundred at Ashendon accompanied by a glass of Dark Star Hophead. Is it my changing taste buds or has that beer shaded in recent years?

It’s the very picture of an English country inn, though with an unusual sign.

As you know these are dangerous times. Whatever you do, don’t use a hand dryer.

After an afternoon salivating at Chesham United’s lovely terracing, it was off to Great Missenden, an obviously prosperous small Buckinghamshire town (popn. 10,138). In 1972 the then Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale produced a prototype Good Beer Guide. The pubs listed largely reflected those most familiar to the authors so were largely, though not exclusively, in the south of England. There were 13 A4 pages of pubs, and Great Missenden featured prominently.

16 in Henley (all Brakspear)

Of the 6 entries, the only surviving pub, also in the 2020 Guide, is the Cross Keys. It’s a lovely 16th Century building, all low beams and roof tiles, with Fuller’s beers. My Oliver’s Island was very quaffable. On checking it’s strength I found the brewery’s website doesn’t exactly promote their beers but it’s 3.8%.

This one wasn’t on that 1972 list, nor has it ever appeared in a Guide until now. The heart of Great Missenden – if it has one – is one long street but I managed to walk past the George Alehouse twice. Someone had paid them to cover it up just before my visit. I have reported this malicious act to the local Sergeant-at -Arms and expect imminent action.

The name suggests a micropub but it’s not – it’s a locals bar with plenty of cask beer going down including my Saltaire Triple Choc stout. The White Lion wasn’t on the 1972 list either.

Now known as Origins at the White Lion (yeah, that’s what I thought too)

Of the others in the original Guide, The Bugle at Lee Common (title pic) was once a general store, then a pub run by Keith and Marjorie Webb and, later, their son Anthony. Now closed, according to the above website Mrs Webb was buried in the car park. In accordance with her wishes, we are invited to presume.

The Prince of Wales, an Ind Coope house described as “completely unspoilt, small pub. Beer served directly from the barrel” closed, fell into disrepair and was demolished for housing in 2009.

Closedpubs.co.uk

The Barley Mow and Red Lion – the latter described by the closed pubs site as being “at the forefront of the real ale revolution” – are also long closed and the Pheasant became a house.

Pubs disappear for different reasons in different parts of the country and demand for high end housing is a factor in counties like Bucks. It’s not all relentless decline but where and how we drink has changed. The Wild Kite Taproom and Bottle Shop is in Great Missenden and not far away, the Malt Brewery also has a tap, places that would not have been feasible until a few years ago.

The night came to a premature conclusion with a covid failure.

At least they posted

Not the first I would experience in the short interval before all the pubs were closed again. And surely not the last when they once again reopen. Who’d be a publican in these times?

24 thoughts on “The Missing Pubs of Great Missenden

  1. I’d not seen the early GBGs very much. I never realized they were the towns and cities in alphabetical order. Pretty amazing that Hastings has a single listing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was the only one like that – it was really a pre-Guide. The 1974 edition was properly bound and is counted as the first in the numerical sequence. The first print run got pulped on legal advice after describing Watney’s beer as “avoid like the plague”. A smaller print run makes it the hardest to get hold of (and the only one I haven’t got). Scotland didn’t feature until 1975.

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      1. Your comments make me want to find a very early copy to read. I think the earliest one I have seen closely was one from the early 2000s.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Must visits are the Laurieston (50’s interior, wonderfully run, good beer and lovely atmosphere); State Bar (for beer quality); Old Toll Bar (magnificent Victorian palace, all wood and stained glass); and Pot Still (cask beer and huge whisky selection on high gantry). Bon Accord also good for cask beer and whisky. You will love them.

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  2. “It was in the wrong glass- Belgians would recoil ”

    Martin must be part Belgian then. 😉

    “Is it my changing taste buds or has that beer shaded in recent years?”

    An astute comment! I used to be a big Guinness fan, up until 2012 or so. Since then, not so much. Not sure if it’s changing taste buds or a change to their recipe… thanks to penny pinching by Diageo after they purchased it?

    “It’s the very picture of an English country inn, though with an unusual sign.”

    I get the ‘hundred’ bit. Not sure about the sign though. Maybe that many former districts merged a millennium ago?

    “Whatever you do, don’t use a hand dryer.”

    LOL! Over here it’s the other bloody way round! At least in the food stores. No paper towel, hand dryer only. Go figure!

    “and Great Missenden featured prominently.”

    With regards to the Cross Keys, I thought they’d misspelled ‘settee’; but apparently settle is another word for bench.

    “Of the 6 entries, the only surviving pub, also in the 2020 Guide, is the Cross Keys.”

    Do they still have the high-backed settles?

    “On checking it’s strength”

    Lose the apostrophe. 😉

    “The heart of Great Missenden – if it has one”

    Have a heart! 🙂

    “Someone had paid them to cover it up just before my visit.”

    They did a poor bloody job if that was the intent. 🙂

    “including my Saltaire Triple Choc stout”

    Oooh. Sounds luverly.

    “(yeah, that’s what I thought too)”

    *cough* frou frou! 🙂

    “Mrs Webb was buried in the car park. In accordance with her wishes, we are invited to presume.”

    She wanted to ‘cement’ her undying* love for the pub?

    * – poor choice of words, I know.

    “and demand for high end housing is a factor in counties like Bucks.”

    Ah. That makes some sort of sense, I guess.

    “The night came to a premature conclusion with a covid failure.”

    Blimey. Over here one of the major customers for our lunch truck had someone who’d been at a party where someone tested positive. They closed for three days and opened back up. Thank goodness!

    “Who’d be a publican in these times?”

    I would! But, only for the very private, soon to be open, man/shed pub in my backyard.

    Look; the walls are up!

    https://preview.tinyurl.com/yxer8dn3

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. Your bar is going to look great. Love that window. I will be nominating it for the 2022 Good Beer Guide so we all have to visit. Ps awarding you a slow golf clap on behalf of Mrs Webb.

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