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Pub/Bar of the Month June 2017: The Rose & Crown, Oxford

The Rose & Crown, Oxford, UK

There are many fine pubs in Oxford, so many in fact that it seems unfair to single out any particular one.

Rose & Crown, OxfordBut I’m going to do just that to champion the joys of the Rose & Crown, a wonderfully unspoilt, terraced community boozer just to the north of the city centre where the pleasure of a visit begins before you’ve even set foot inside.

The narrow road the pub inhabits has a comforting village feel, with homely independent shops and little traffic, and this sets the tone for the pub itself, a place where neighbours catch up on the latest gossip, unhindered by piped music or the distractions of mobile phones (they are banned).

You can sit out at the front or in the covered courtyard at the rear and enjoy a pint without being engulfed by the bustle of city life, even though you’re only half a mile away from the main shopping streets, most of the colleges and the ever popular Ashmolean Museum. If I lived in Oxford, this would be my local.

According to its nameplate, the pub – initially merely a cottage – has been here since 1863. Another clue to its past is the ceramic Halls Brewery plaque, a relic of the local brewery (later part of Allied Breweries), that was once the owner.

Today – purchased by the long-serving tenants from Punch Taverns in 2010 – it’s again a free house, serving four cask ales that constantly merit a Good Beer Guide entry.

Defiantly Old-Fashioned

Behind its flower-bedecked, pink-washed façade and quaint, small-paned windows, the Rose & Crown has a defiantly old-fashioned layout.

As you cross the threshold, in front of you is a wide drinking corridor, with a long bench, a settle and a hatch to the bar.

The ceiling is low and warped, stained brown over time, there are books to read and – in another sign of civilisation – an umbrella stand is waiting to take your dripping brolly. As elsewhere in the pub, the furnishings and decor are spartan but no less comfortable for that.

Off the corridor is a tiny front bar, with a tiled floor and room for just three small tables, a dresser, an impressive Art Deco fireplace and an upright piano.

Rose & Crown, OxfordFurther along, the back bar, with the main servery, is not much bigger – just accommodating two long tables – and is adorned with framed rugby shirts, ice hockey sticks and a cabinet full of sporting silverware.

On the bar, a jug of water is always available to keep drinkers refreshed and there is usually a carousel of tempting pork pies to take the edge off your hunger. More substantial meals are also available, majoring on Pieminister pies and home-made burgers.

Apart from Adnams Southwold Bitter, the two other regular beers are local – Hook Norton Old Hooky and Shotover Scholar – and there’s also a guest beer that, on my most recent visit, came from North Cotswold.

If you’re on a tourist visit to this great city, it’s very tempting to just take the easy option and stay in the centre but if you make the effort to stray a little further north, you really won’t be disappointed.

The Rose & Crown, 14 North Parade Avenue, Oxford OX2 6LX
Tel. (01865) 510551
Opening Hours: 11–midnight; 11–1am Friday and Saturday; no entry after 11pm

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