Sunday, January 3, 2010

Harrow Inn

"The 16th-century Harrow is a gem. Unspoilt, brick-and-tiled, it hides down a country lane that dwindles into a footpath by a little stream...formerly a drover's stop."

Alastair Sawday's beginning description is captivating enough to make me stop and read the rest, even if the pub itself doesn't seem to exactly jump off the page. "Drovers" is not a word that is in the average American's vocabulary, and it instantly pulled my mind back across time to Sir Walter Scot's fine short story, "The Two Drovers". But, unlike Sir Walter's tale, you will not find any fighting between long-friends at this cozy pub.

It is billed as a "village inn set in the hangers of Hampshire" but I don't know what Hampshire's "hangers" might be. I say "pub" but it is really an inn foremost, I think - at least the atmosphere would match an American's mental image of what an early inn was supposed to be like: two small rooms with timbered walls; brick inglenook fireplace aglow in winter; scrubbed elm benches and tables, no bar... what? No bar? But still very much a pub despite. Only a hatch-like serving counter with barrels of local ale resting on racks.

"There's a small wild orchard garden, and some weather-worn rustic benches to the front. Food is limited to generously-filled sandwiches, split-pea and ham soup full of fresh vegetables served with great chunks of bread, a ploughman's platter...served with a smile."

The Harrow Inn. Steep, Petersfield, Hampshire. In Claire and Nisa McCutcheon's family since 1929.


  1. Writing about southern pubs indeed.... it really has gone downhill in here since I left it in Max's hands... or should I say paws.

  2. Hampshire Hangers - woodland and steep (see?) hillside. Sometimes known as little Switzerland, or some such. Very pretty.

  3. "a steep" down"hillside.

    Actually it does look very pretty, maybe when I next get back to the UK I should do some sight seeing.

  4. I was writing about southern pubs, but I was going to work my way up.

    Little Switzerland? Ok.

    Caroline, I think it would be great for you to do some sight seeing. Instead of just living inside one pub for 2 weeks. Just sayin'.

  5. What on earth makes you think I stay in one pub?

  6. I'd recommend another Drovers Inn, the one at Dallowgill, near Grewelthorp, Kirby Malzeard (pron-'malyard', but thats another subject), North Yorkshire. A friendly pub, one that in years gone by, when licencing laws required pubs to close at ten-thirty in the evening, was not too bothered by the concept of closing time. I've left there at past three in the morning.
    Mind you, I've not been there for a few years, I live further away now.
    Anybody heard of the TV series, 'All Creatures Great and Small'?
    The Drovers was in that...
    A beautiful part of England too.

  7. Oh.. Little Swit?
    There's one of those half a mile from my door. Gledhow Valley, the road up has a couple of hairpin bends. It's not anything like a mountain, but it's known locally as Little Switzerland.
    I assume the residents of the one house up there in the woods are displaced, or disgraced... gnomes of Zurich, and spend their days carving cuckoo clocks.


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