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Pub/Bar of the Month November 2017: Rose & Crown (Eli's Inn), Huish Episcopi, UK

Rose & Crown (Eli’s Inn), Huish Episcopi, UK

‘Come on in,’ urges the landlady, recognising my uncertainty as I approach the bar area. I am more than a little confused as she seems to want to invite me behind the bar – except there is no bar as such.

Rose & Crown (Eli's)I’ve broken a long journey with a stop in deepest Somerset. The village, Huish Episcopi, sounds like something from a medieval Latin prayer book and its pub, the Rose & Crown, could easily come from the same period, although it is in fact somewhat later in origin (seventeenth century).

From the front, it’s a quirky, thatched premises with arched, church-like windows and a sloping side roof. Lift the latch and a stone-flagged, white-walled corridor extends away from you, ending in the aforementioned bar area.

This is essentially just an open cellar or tap room where – as my host explained by her simple welcome – you can just step in and choose the beer you’d like to drink. There is a blackboard detailing what’s been tapped but you’re standing right next to the beer pumps anyway.

The choice is from three ales that have earned the pub a regular place in the Good Beer Guide. Local breweries such as Teignworthy, Cheddar and Cotleigh tend to feature.

Rooms in All Directions

Around this central area, the pub extends in all directions. To the rear is a boxy modern extension that includes a jukebox, TV and a pool table; to the rear on the other side is access to a covered courtyard and a simple garden.

Rose & Crown (Eli's)Off to the left is a room where a library of books and games offers a clue about the people who use it, and this joins up with a simple lounge furnished with a trio of tables, a red-brick fireplace, an upright piano and some poignant pictorial tributes to two, young First World War soldiers – fallen members of the family that has run the pub for four generations.

There is access from here back to the main corridor and, if you cross it, you find yet another room, as simply furnished as the rest of the pub but dominated by a big hearth and cooking range.

Once a men-only preserve, it is now – according to the sign pinned on the door – a venue for monthly ‘singarounds’.

All in all, it’s quite an establishment, surprisingly large and – with its numerous discrete areas – catering for all age groups and interests. I particularly love the fact that it’s very clearly an active, thriving pub and not just a museum-piece.

Yes, it’s ancient but it’s also comfortable, a lovely place to sit for a chat and a pint, or to enjoy a filled roll, some soup or something more substantial. They host quizzes, too.

The Rose & Crown is easy to find because it stands on the main road through the village but, if you need to stop for directions, just ask for ‘Eli’s’. This is a reference back to former landlord Eli Scott, who ran the pub for around 50 years and whose grandchildren share the licence – and maintain his traditions – today.

Rose and Crown (Eli’s Inn), Huish Episcopi, Langport, Somerset TA10 9QT.
Tel. (01458) 250494
Opening Hours: 11.30–2.30, 5.30–11; 11.30–11.30 Friday & Saturday; 12–10.30 Sunday

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