Pub/Bar of the Month February 2015: The Kings Arms, Heath, Wakefield, UK
The Kings Arms, Heath, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK
The Kings Arms is one of those pubs that seems like a cliché.
If you were to build a word cloud out of the descriptions used for it in reviews, hackneyed terms such as old-fashioned, characterful, cosy, convivial, historic and atmospheric would stand out large and bold.
All of which challenges the writer determined to say something new and enlightening about a pub that seems to tick every box on the visitors' list of classic English pub requirements. We can at least give it a go even if – I have to confess – my visit to the pub was rather fleeting.
I caught The Kings Arms on a beautiful winter's afternoon as the sun beamed across the open heathland to the front, drenching the blackened stone façade in a beckoning golden glow.
It was quite a welcome but, in fact, the sun proved to be rather a nuisance as I stepped over the threshold, lasering through the small-paned sash windows, catching me full in the eye and temporarily blinding me.
Retreating from the glare, I could then see why the pub – built in the sixteenth century and licensed since early Victorian times – is such a favourite among those who revere the unspoilt.
Coats of Arms
The main bar, for instance, is a heavily wood-panelled area where two chunky fireplaces blaze with warmth, their carved wooden surrounds loyally displaying aristocratic coats of arms – one of them the sovereign's own Dieu et Mon Droit crest.
From the back of the bar, access is gained to a bright and spacious conservatory but of more interest are the little rooms around the corner, especially the tiny three- or four-person snug that sits to the right of the front door.
One small bench is all that can be squeezed in, leaving just enough room to stand at the bar and order a drink.
Wood panelling, flagstoned floors and heavy beams feature over on the left of the central corridor in a homely little saloon that offers a coal fire and padded settles.
A step or two further along, another miniscule bar is dominated by a black iron fireplace, veteran Singer sewing machine and a cabinet of curiosities.
There's just enough room here for a couple of tables and cushioned pews, which, along with the brass ornaments, antique flat irons and retro pictures, are cast in moody shadow by the gas lighting that is a major part of the charm of the building and gives its name to the adjoining Gaslight Restaurant.
A Pint Outside
For many years, The Kings Arms was run by the local Clark's brewery but, since 2011, it has been leased by Ossett Brewery, resulting in beers such as Yorkshire Blonde and Silver King lining up on the bar, rubbing shoulders with four guest ales and an Ossett-brewed house bitter.
Leaving aside the magnetic attraction of the untarnished interior, one of the delights of this pub is surely to be found in quaffing one of these Good Beer Guide-standard pints on a table outside.
On the face of it, the location doesn't sound too promising, on the fringe of bustling Wakefield and not much more than a hefty drop kick from the home of the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats rugby league team.
But this is rural Yorkshire at its most majestic, with sweeping views over barren, Brontë-esque countryside where the only moving things that catch the eye are grazing ponies and thirsty ramblers homing in on a beery reward.
Sadly, I couldn't join them on this occasion but I've made a mental note to do so another day.
The Kings Arms, Heath, Heath Common, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 5SL
Tel. (01924) 377527
Opening Hours: 12–11; 12–midnight Friday & Saturday