This 15th century village pub is an idyllic and historic South Downs location to take a load off
If driving the Newhaven Road South of Lewes you could easily whizz past The Abergavenny Arms, Rodmell, barely registering that a tiny village and it’s pub exist. The village is genuinely ancient and it’s thought that some beams of the pub were salvaged from the Spanish Armada wreckage. If you need any more local history, Virginia Woolf used to reside down the lane in a 16th century cottage called Monks House, now run by the National Trust.
Walking into the pub the aesthetic is just what you hope an old rural pub will be. It’s a bit dusky and in some places the exposed beams cause you duck just in case. There’s sturdy wooden furniture in front of a large fireplace. There are whitewashed walls embellished sparingly with rural pictures and remnants of agricultural life.
To the left of the front door is a row of booths and the way the sun pours through the windows in the afternoon adds a tranquility to the space. This main room with the bar feels like the most ancient part of the building and from it the pub heads in all directions. One of those spaces even has a wishing well, with donations going to support the local aged villagers.
The upper most room has a tall vaulted ceiling and this space feels like it was probably part of an old barn. There’s lots and lots of tables and so even on the busiest of days I doubt many people are turned away.
On a little nose around I discovered a more basic lounge and games room behind the bar, which I imagine is where the village’s drinking age teenagers gather to play darts of an evening. I mean I certainly would have done if I lived nearby at 18.
The long bar is opposite the fireplace, and sports 4 cask pumps – Sussex’s Long Man and Harvey’s both available on this visit – and about 6 taps offering various lagers and a pretty generic pale ale. There’s also Guinness and South Downs Cider available, which couldn’t be more local, as it’s produced in Northease just up the road.
The entrance most people are likely to take is through the garden from the car park, and this is a lovely, well bedded-in garden complete with about 3 seating zones bordered by lots of tall plants. Tables have been spaced and out and aren’t on top of each other. It’s a perfect sun-trap, and from it’s orientation I would imagine gets the sun at all times of day and through most of the year as well.
Food options are traditional and the Menu offers loads of options. The rump steak and scampi and chips we had on our visit was spot-on, a great lump of steak, good peppercorn sauce and really plentiful portions for the cost. We also hear they do Fish Fry-days and Sunday lunches.
A stop-off here, to enjoy the pub and a walk through the local village, unlocks a very pretty little corner of the South Downs. The Abergavenny Arms Rodmell is quaint, rural and provides all the aesthetics of an old village pub. I could absolutely while away the time here with a book, or enjoying the sunny garden with friends. With Southease station only a short walk through a field away, it’s a worthwhile day-trip for Brightonians and the pub makes a great post country-walk pint and grub.