CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Pubs in Battle

Previous Pint Pleasures - December 4, 2000

guinness eileen

The Senlac Inn, Station Road, Battle, East Sussex

guinness eileen

The Abbey Hotel, 84 High Street, Battle, East Sussex

guinness eileen

Ye Olde Kings Head, Mount Street, Battle, East Sussex

Not long ago a couple friends and I spent a couple days visiting another friend in the town of Battle. A few miles north of Hastings on the eastern edge of Sussex, Battle is where the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066. It would seem logical that there would have been a Hastings of Battle which occurred in Hastings, if only Hastings were a noun -- but fortunately it's not. To confuse matters even further the friend with whom we stayed in Battle actually lives in Hastings.

Go figure.

But Battle is nothing like Hastings because it's a much smaller place. Known as the "birthplace of England," Battle features a number of historic attractions including the Abbey built by William the Conqueror. It also features several pubs, which is why I'm writing about it in the first place. For those who were worried I might be abandoning my love of real ale in favour of historical and logical conundrums, never fear.

The first place we visited was the Senlac Inn, technically a pub and restaurant. Since we were hungry as well as thirsty this was fine with us. We were pleasantly surprised to find Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter (4%, Harvey & Son Ltd., Lewes, East Sussex) on tap, since the brewery had sustained so much damage and lost a lot of casks in the recent floods. I have to admit I was so desperate for a beer I barely tasted my pint; it was most welcome after the long gruelling drive two of us had experienced that day, driving all the way up to Doncaster to pick up Calder and then back down through Friday evening rush-hour London traffic to swim our way through torrential foggy rain down the crowded A21 to Battle to meet Giles. Having been on the road from 9:00 in the morning till 8:30 at night, I needed a bum soother and Sussex Best definitely fit the bill.

The next day we stopped at the Abbey Hotel for a lunchtime pint. A Shepherd Neame pub, the Abbey is a pleasant, split-level pub with a nice roaring fire, pool table, and France on the wall. In reality it was a painting of France -- suggestive of a scene by Gustave Caillebotte -- on the wall and not France itself; that's quite a bit further away, several miles as opposed to a yard or so. It's easy to get confused with the perspectives in these old pubs... Anyway, our pints of Master Brew (3.7%, Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent) were decent, accompanying a quick couple games of pool quite nicely.

Heading down the road a bit and around the corner we came to Ye Olde Kings Head. This is a classic 15th-century pub with low beams and inglenooks. As we were ordering our pints of Ruddles Best Bitter (3.7%, Morland, Abingdon, Oxfordshire) I noticed two Christmas trees perched on the bench opposite. And then one of them stood -- it was a couple dressed as Christmas trees! Is this some sort of ancient Battle tradition? Did we look howlingly out of place in our nonfoliaged attire? Or were they dressed that way because the holidays weren't far off and the Battle tree-lighting ceremony was approaching? Would they light these two people as well? Or would the couple remain in the Kings Head all day, thereby getting themselves lit?

I decided not to dwell on it any further and to enjoy my beer. It was a good pint, although not quite as spectacular as Ruddles County Bitter. After a couple games of pool the four of us gathered around the quiz machine where Giles had deposited 50p for a game. We spent two hours at this game, answering enough questions to up our accumulated jackpot to £8.50 and then back down again. Pushing all those buttons was hard work, and the Ruddles proved itself to be an efficient refresher and mind tonic. By the time our 50 pence had finally run out we'd learned probably everything we'll ever need to know about Alpine antelope, Olympic runners, epiphytes, and the cast of "Coronation Street."

Kings Head Updates
(Last updated 6th June 2001)