Pub/Bar of the Month September 2014: The Three Horseshoes, Warham All Saints, Norfolk
The Three Horseshoes, Warham All Saints, Norfolk, UK
My first visit to The Three Horseshoes was a rather frustrating experience.
It happened some seventeen years ago, while I was on holiday on the Norfolk coast.
I was editor of the Good Beer Guide at the time, and had obviously heard about the pub, its simple hospitality and warm welcome.
But I arrived in the village father of a very tired toddler and, family demands being such, my experience of the pub was confined to a sneaky peek through the window after a day at the beach.
I've been lucky enough to go back a number of times since, and every time the visit has been memorable.
The Three Horseshoes, just outside Wells-next-the-Sea, is one of those 'great survivor' pubs, a no-nonsense, down-to-earth hostelry that refuses to move with the times. Entrance is from the side – under an archway topped with a clock and weathervane, and through a small courtyard – as the front door has long been blocked off.
Behind the handsome brick-and-flint façade, there are three rooms, linked in serial fashion, beginning with a homely public bar with a quarry-tiled floor, half-panelling and a décor based on old brewery posters. On the ceiling is a traditional Norfolk 'twister', a sort of spin-the-wheel game, apparently once used to decide who bought the next round.
A brick fireplace stands centre stage, filled with crackling logs in winter, and a hatch counter gives access to the taproom where you can see two casks mounted on stillage ready for gravity dispense.
The second room is small and cosy, a shrine to the Victorian era with its period wallpaper, floral carpet, old Empire prints and upright piano, complete with candle holders. A small cabinet filled with china and photographs of various royals, including the late queen herself, take you back to another era.
The third room is longer and brighter, but still trapped in the past. The artefacts are less abundant here but there's still room for another cabinet of curiosities, a black lead fireplace and, bizarrely, an old Hotpoint electric cooker.
Stripped deal tables, here and in the other rooms, come in various sizes, to accommodate parties large or small.
Beers are supplied by various local breweries, with Woodforde's Wherry joined by guests. There is also cider and home-made lemonade.
Food is very popular but doesn’t detract from the country alehouse atmosphere. Visitors make long journeys for the home-made pies, which are listed on the blackboard in the public bar – Norfolk beef and ale, garlic lamb, and mushroom and nut, among them.
Other dishes on offer include the likes of liver and onions, fish cakes and crab soup, with everything at pub, not restaurant, prices.
The pub has a verdant garden with tables to the side and also offers bed and breakfast accommodation in a cottage next door. Bursting with character, untainted by 'progress' and free from electronic distraction, it has pretty much everything going for it.
Pay a visit and you will understand why I was so frustrated the first time I attempted to call in for a pint.
The Three Horseshoes, Warham All Saints, Norfolk NR23 1NL
Tel. (01328) 710547
Opening Hours: 12–2.30, 6–11