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Brighton Beer Blog visit The Cricketers Brighton

A descriptive account of our visit…

Date: 15th January

Beers:
London Pride

 

The Cricketers Brighton claims to be the city’s oldest pub, and it’s certainly in the right area of Brighton for a claim like that. The building, which could date back as far as 1545, reaches back through the centuries to when Brighton was little more than a fishing village and market town. Given this is potentially Brighton’s oldest pub, it’s only right to take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of the history and colour that surrounds it before getting into my visit (many thanks to the Brighton People Facebook page and this great historic article for the help).

The pub was originally called The Laste and Fish Cart and was also utilised as a tax office, where rumour has it the fishermen would pay their taxes in fish. A laste, is of course an old unit of measurement specific to herrings, and equates to 10 ‘long thousands’ or 10 x 1200. I have checked and this is no longer an acceptable unit of currency with Brighton & Hove Council.

Rumour has it that that the original landlord was Darrick Carver, who also established the Black Lion brewery next door and grew hops on the land between Middle and East Street. Unfortunately for him he was Protestant and Queen Mary 1st wasn’t much up for Protestantism, so he was convicted of heresy and became the first Protestant martyred under the Bloody Mary regime (not to be confused with a popular Brighton Sunday hangover cure). He was burned in a barrel on Lewes High Street and word has it that he and the 15 other Protestant martyrs who lost their lives there are the reason behind the effegies that are burned at the annual Lewes bonfire events.

 

In the late C18th Mr Jutton become landlord at the pub, and we have to assume he was a bigger cricket fan than herring eater, because he changed the name of the pub to The Cricketers. The nearest cricket pitch at this time was on The Level, the only public space where ball games were permitted to be played back then.

Over the years famous punters and visitors have included; Winnie Sexton, known for her floral frocks and camp sense of humour, one of Jack the Ripper suspects, surgeon Robert Donston Stephenson, who stayed here in the 19th century, and Brighton resident and theatrical actor Lord Laurence Olivier. The pub is also made famous in literature, namely Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’, which is why a formally decorated function room upstairs is named The Greene Room and contains various letters written by him.

 

Phew, that’s a lot of history for one pub, but all that really matters to me is that a pub which talks a historic pub game, also looks the part, and thankfully The Cricketers Brighton does, offering punters a window back in time as oposed to refurbishing all the charm away.

The pub is split into 3 sections, the small public bar in the front, the plush saloon bar lounge rooms in the rear, one with a small warming fire, and then the long side room which looks as though it was amalgamated into the original pub at some point, probably being the old inn stables.

Scattered around you are cabinets and shelves adorned with antiques and the walls and ceilings are scattered with touches of the traditional; old paintings, a stags head and dim red lamps which maintain a feeling of brooding duskiness inside, no matter what time of day it is outside. I don’t know why there are vinyl records stuck on one ceiling but no doubt there is a sound historical link.

 

As you enter you are immediately greeted by the old looking wooden bar which has on it 3 cask pumps and lots of taps offering various massmarket keg options, lagers, Guinness and Neck Oil. Disappointingly of 3 pumps only London Pride was pouring today and neither of the Harveys Best and Longman options were available, though it’s good to see from the clips that local brewers get supported here on cask. But Fullers’ (or is it Asahi’s now) London Pride’s is a decent ale anyway, it’s red-brown, sweet and malty and characterful despite being quite light.

There’s not much seating space at the bar itself, just a couple of small tables, but to the left of the bar as it curves round, there is a really quirky and unique bench seat with 3 mini tables suspended in front. It’s an excellent use of space and a communal way of sitting at the small bar without actually getting in the way.

Pink velvet bench seating runs along every wall in the rear lounge bar and the carpet is a flowery pattern that most pubs wouldn’t be able to pull off without feeling really out of date. Here it simply feels like the decor hasn’t changed since the Victorian/Edwardian era when the front bar was strictly the domain of men, but inns would accept women in the lounge rooms. This was only when accompanied by a man though, lest they be mistaken for ‘ladies of the night’. Thankfully today all are welcome across the pub and the atmosphere was busy but relaxed with most tables occupied even at lunchtime.

 

We were meeting some family for lunch today and had a table booked in the more spacious and airy dining area which has scope to accomodate large groups on long tables. This section next to the pub looks like was probably an old stables. I like to think that the old rings connected to walls may once have tethered a travellers faithful steed, as the rider, having finally reached the end of the journey in Brighton, revived himself with an ale inside.

The pub continues it’s traditional vibes into the menu where a venison suet pudding, sirloin steak and fish and chips are all part of the mains selection. My suet pudding was insanely good, incredibly filling and I could have swigged the dense and flavoursome game gravy by the mug-full.

There are burgers as well, with 2 different veggie options. Whilst the physical appearance of these was a little underwhelming, all the feedback on the meat, bean and halloumi burgers eaten by family, was that they tasted great. The halloumi burger came with an ale chutney which my wife really enjoyed.

 

Service was genuinely friendly and the staff were very helpful and eager to please with table service, possibly because we were the biggest table booking in the pub at that time, but perhaps this is simply the norm. The manager and chef also wen’t out of their way to accomodate some dietary requirements which was incredibly kind of them and much appreciated.

The Golden Lion Group that own the pub also run some of Brighton’s loveable gems, such as; The Collonade bar, Ladies Mile and Hove Place. i’m really keen to visit and review more of their locations now based on the great experience here.

All in all, I think what i love about this pub is the traditional atmosphere that has been carefully maintained rather than destroyed, and the warm tones of the environment that make it feel so effortlessly homely and comfortable. I think proclaiming yourself Brighton’s oldest pub on the outside of the building (something that is also claimed by the Black Lion next door) will always lend yourself to the out if town tourist crowd, but this is a pub that can be adored by locals and visitors alike, and why the hell not flaunt those credentials if you’ve got em..?

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Date: 15th January

Beers:
London Pride

 

The Cricketers Brighton claims to be the city’s oldest pub, and it’s certainly in the right area of Brighton for a claim like that. The building, which could date back as far as 1545, reaches back through the centuries to when Brighton was little more than a fishing village and market town. Given this is potentially Brighton’s oldest pub, it’s only right to take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of the history and colour that surrounds it before getting into my visit (many thanks to the Brighton People Facebook page and this great historic article for the help).

The pub was originally called The Laste and Fish Cart and was also utilised as a tax office, where rumour has it the fishermen would pay their taxes in fish. A laste, is of course an old unit of measurement specific to herrings, and equates to 10 ‘long thousands’ or 10 x 1200. I have checked and this is no longer an acceptable unit of currency with Brighton & Hove Council.

Rumour has it that that the original landlord was Darrick Carver, who also established the Black Lion brewery next door and grew hops on the land between Middle and East Street. Unfortunately for him he was Protestant and Queen Mary 1st wasn’t much up for Protestantism, so he was convicted of heresy and became the first Protestant martyred under the Bloody Mary regime (not to be confused with a popular Brighton Sunday hangover cure). He was burned in a barrel on Lewes High Street and word has it that he and the 15 other Protestant martyrs who lost their lives there are the reason behind the effegies that are burned at the annual Lewes bonfire events.

 

In the late C18th Mr Jutton become landlord at the pub, and we have to assume he was a bigger cricket fan than herring eater, because he changed the name of the pub to The Cricketers. The nearest cricket pitch at this time was on The Level, the only public space where ball games were permitted to be played back then.

Over the years famous punters and visitors have included; Winnie Sexton, known for her floral frocks and camp sense of humour, one of Jack the Ripper suspects, surgeon Robert Donston Stephenson, who stayed here in the 19th century, and Brighton resident and theatrical actor Lord Laurence Olivier. The pub is also made famous in literature, namely Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’, which is why a formally decorated function room upstairs is named The Greene Room and contains various letters written by him.

 

Phew, that’s a lot of history for one pub, but all that really matters to me is that a pub which talks a historic pub game, also looks the part, and thankfully The Cricketers Brighton does, offering punters a window back in time as oposed to refurbishing all the charm away.

The pub is split into 3 sections, the small public bar in the front, the plush saloon bar lounge rooms in the rear, one with a small warming fire, and then the long side room which looks as though it was amalgamated into the original pub at some point, probably being the old inn stables.

Scattered around you are cabinets and shelves adorned with antiques and the walls and ceilings are scattered with touches of the traditional; old paintings, a stags head and dim red lamps which maintain a feeling of brooding duskiness inside, no matter what time of day it is outside. I don’t know why there are vinyl records stuck on one ceiling but no doubt there is a sound historical link.

 

As you enter you are immediately greeted by the old looking wooden bar which has on it 3 cask pumps and lots of taps offering various massmarket keg options, lagers, Guinness and Neck Oil. Disappointingly of 3 pumps only London Pride was pouring today and neither of the Harveys Best and Longman options were available, though it’s good to see from the clips that local brewers get supported here on cask. But Fullers’ (or is it Asahi’s now) London Pride’s is a decent ale anyway, it’s red-brown, sweet and malty and characterful despite being quite light.

There’s not much seating space at the bar itself, just a couple of small tables, but to the left of the bar as it curves round, there is a really quirky and unique bench seat with 3 mini tables suspended in front. It’s an excellent use of space and a communal way of sitting at the small bar without actually getting in the way.

Pink velvet bench seating runs along every wall in the rear lounge bar and the carpet is a flowery pattern that most pubs wouldn’t be able to pull off without feeling really out of date. Here it simply feels like the decor hasn’t changed since the Victorian/Edwardian era when the front bar was strictly the domain of men, but inns would accept women in the lounge rooms. This was only when accompanied by a man though, lest they be mistaken for ‘ladies of the night’. Thankfully today all are welcome across the pub and the atmosphere was busy but relaxed with most tables occupied even at lunchtime.

 

We were meeting some family for lunch today and had a table booked in the more spacious and airy dining area which has scope to accomodate large groups on long tables. This section next to the pub looks like was probably an old stables. I like to think that the old rings connected to walls may once have tethered a travellers faithful steed, as the rider, having finally reached the end of the journey in Brighton, revived himself with an ale inside.

The pub continues it’s traditional vibes into the menu where a venison suet pudding, sirloin steak and fish and chips are all part of the mains selection. My suet pudding was insanely good, incredibly filling and I could have swigged the dense and flavoursome game gravy by the mug-full.

There are burgers as well, with 2 different veggie options. Whilst the physical appearance of these was a little underwhelming, all the feedback on the meat, bean and halloumi burgers eaten by family, was that they tasted great. The halloumi burger came with an ale chutney which my wife really enjoyed.

 

Service was genuinely friendly and the staff were very helpful and eager to please with table service, possibly because we were the biggest table booking in the pub at that time, but perhaps this is simply the norm. The manager and chef also wen’t out of their way to accomodate some dietary requirements which was incredibly kind of them and much appreciated.

The Golden Lion Group that own the pub also run some of Brighton’s loveable gems, such as; The Collonade bar, Ladies Mile and Hove Place. i’m really keen to visit and review more of their locations now based on the great experience here.

All in all, I think what i love about this pub is the traditional atmosphere that has been carefully maintained rather than destroyed, and the warm tones of the environment that make it feel so effortlessly homely and comfortable. I think proclaiming yourself Brighton’s oldest pub on the outside of the building (something that is also claimed by the Black Lion next door) will always lend yourself to the out if town tourist crowd, but this is a pub that can be adored by locals and visitors alike, and why the hell not flaunt those credentials if you’ve got em..?

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