Pub/Bar of the Month November 2014: The Queen's Head, Newton, UK
The Queen's Head, Newton, UK
In February last year, these pages featured the wonderful Square & Compass at Worth Matravers, Dorset, as Pub/Bar of the Month.
One of its great attractions was the fact that it was one of only seven pubs to have featured in every edition of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide.
It's still in the book, but, after forty-two years, the number of pubs that have been included every time has fallen to five.
My quest to visit all the ever-presents has now taken me to Cambridgeshire where I was delighted to – at last – set foot over the threshold of the remarkable Queen's Head, in Newton.
Newton is a country settlement just west of the M11 motorway, south of Cambridge city. At its heart are a village green-cum-playing field and the village cross.
Opposite both, the Queen's Head is an odd-looking, red-brick building, a tumble of moss-laden roofs and tall chimneys, with a long, low outhouse to the side. A portrait of Anne of Cleves – who has no particular connection to the area – doubles as the pub sign.
Inside, the 18th-century building splits into two parts, divided by a 'jug and bottle' – the traditional corridor with access to the bar for the dispense of off-sales.
To the right-hand side is the public bar, an immensely characterful room in two sections. At the far end, there's a dartboard and an impressive devil-among-the-tailors game (table skittles), as well as a large collection of beer and pub guides, probably in all of which the pub has an entry.
In the main part of the bar, there's an upright piano and a real fire that has a settle in front and an old clock above. Throughout, the décor is somewhat mad, ranging between CAMRA award certificates and stuffed animals – including a toucan and a goose – in cases and jars.
On the other side of the corridor stands the heavily-beamed saloon. As you enter, you are confronted by a large fireplace where logs are burned. Hunting trophies adorn the wall above. But there's also a magnificent inglenook at the end of the room that is now used for decorative purposes.
Like the public bar and the corridor, the saloon offers access to the central servery, where three cask ales are stillaged low down, ready for gravity dispense.
As boldly declared on the end wall of the pub, this is a free house but expect to find beers from Adnams on sale, including seasonals.
Food service is limited, focusing on highly-regarded sandwiches and home-made soups – famously described by their colour, rather than recipe.
The simplicity of the offering means that everything is a perfect accompaniment for the quality beer and good conversation – don't be surprised to see a few villagers waiting outside for the six o'clock opening so they can congregate around the hop-strewn bar and chat with long-serving landlord David Short.
The only disappointment for me in this pub is that I don't live nearer. I could while away many a happy hour at the Queen's Head.
The Queen’s Head, Newton, Cambridgeshire CB22 7PG
Tel. (01223) 870436
Opening Hours: 11.30–2.30, 6–11; 12–2.30, 7–10.30 Sunday