The Rupert Brooke, Grantchester, Cambridgeshire (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 103)
Nestled in the quaint village of Grantchester near Cambridge, this pub takes its name from the eponymous war poet. Rupert Brooke studied at Cambridge University, regularly visiting Grantchester with friends such as Virginia Woolf, before living there permanently. He tragically died in Greece aged 27 during the First World War having written many works, most famously ‘The Soldier’. The pub itself is a very spacious, stylish and smartly refurbished place. Its contemporary wood-clad extension has huge windows, elegant wooden or leather dining chairs around polished tables, and this leads back to a bar area where there are sofas in a cosy nook by the stairs. There is an emphasis here on dining, though they do keep Woodfordes Wherry and guest ale from Milton on handpump, along with several wines by the glass. The two-level restaurant, looking into the open kitchen, is decorated with pendant lights and photographs of Rupert Brooke as a child.
The Poet at Matfield, Matfield, Kent (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 470)
An attractively refurbished pub housed in a beamed 17th-century building, The Poet at Matfield is named after Matfield-born war poet Siegfried Sassoon. He also studied at Cambridge University but, unlike Rupert Brooke, he survived the war and went on to live until the age of 80. Sassoon was a close friend to Wilfred Owen, and he wrote passionately against the violence of the First World War. This Kentish pub boasts a very skilled South African head chef, Petrus Madutlela, who has competed on MasterChef: The Professionals, ensuring the menu is always highly varied and interesting. You will also find ales such as Old Dairy and Tonbridge, nice wines and a great selection of craft gins.
Milton’s Head, Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 90)
The republican poet John Milton wrote perhaps the most famous and widely-studied poem ever in ‘Paradise Lost’, which was published in 1667. He was completely blind when he composed the poem, dictating it to his daughter. Milton studied at Cambridge University (there is a theme developing here) and became very politically involved in the English Civil War. The Milton’s Head, situated in the beautiful village of Chalfont St. Giles, sits opposite Milton’s Cottage, making it a popular stop for tourists after they have visited the museum. This pub-restaurant has a great atmosphere with friendly and helpful staff. The menu consists largely of Italian food cooked by the Sardinian landlord, although they also serve the traditional Sunday roast. You can enjoy their range of drinks, from nice Italian wines and coffee to Peroni on draught, on the small side terrace.
Beerwolf, Falmouth, Cornwall (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 170)
You have to take a set of stairs up to this intriguing old pub-cum-bookshop, hidden down a little alley in the centre of the seaside town of Falmouth. ‘Beerwolf’ puns on ‘Beuwolf’, an Old English poem written over one thousand years ago that tells of a dragon-slaying. Nobody knows exactly who wrote it, and nobody knows precisely when it was first written. Beerwolf is a hip and quirky place with raftered ceilings, an eclectic mix of furniture on bare boards and a very laid-back and friendly atmosphere. You can buy a book from their well-stocked and well-priced bookshop and read it in their bar, which offers a good selection of real ales, beer and cider. The pub is also very child-friendly, with table tennis, table football and other activities.
The Old Poets’ Corner, Ashover, Derbyshire (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 215)
This traditional pub uses its name to pay tribute to all poets. Based in the characterful village of Ashover, The Old Poets Corner boasts a beautiful Tudor design on its front and an interior of oak beams and open fires. Even fleeting visitors are made to feel like the most valued of regulars by the enthusiastic licensees in this comfortably unpretentious local. Many are here for their fine ales, which include their own Ashover Light Rale, Coffin Lane Stout and Poets Tipple, ‘a traditional copper bitter with full mouth feel’. You can also find a terrific choice of twelve farm ciders, a dozen fruit wines and twenty malt whiskies. The Old Poets Corner has an easy-going atmosphere and a mix of chairs and pews, while a small room opening off the bar has a stack of newspapers and vintage comics. French doors lead to a tiny balcony with a couple of tables. Regular entertainment includes acoustic, folk and blues sessions, quiz nights, Morris dancers and poetry evenings. The pub even runs two annual beer festivals in March and October featuring live music every night.
The Alfred Tennyson, Knightsbridge, London (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 951)
Victorian Poet Laureate, Alfred Tennyson, is most well-known for ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’, as well as his long poem ‘In Memoriam’. He studied at Cambridge University before embarking on a long and successful career as one of Britain’s most treasured poets. Among many others, Tennyson gave us the popular phrase “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. This bustling and civilized Knightsbridge-based pub offers interesting food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere. There are high-backed upholstered dining chairs around wooden tables on parquet flooring alongside comfortable leather wall seats. The eclectic décor encompasses 19th-century postcards, envelopes, Edward Lear illustrations, World War Two prints and antique books on windowsills. Friendly, helpful staff serve Canopy Journeyman and Cubitt 1788 on handpump, cocktails and 23 wines by the glass. The best part of the pub is its upstairs restaurant, where a huge mirror hangs above an open fire.
The Water Poet, Spitalfields, London (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 977)
A very obscure figure in England’s literary history, the Water Poet was the pseudonym chosen by John Taylor, a man who spent most of his life as a Thames waterman. He transported passengers across the river in the mid-17th century when London Bridge was the only walkway between the two sides. Taylor found the time to write poems, but none of them are particularly well-known today. The Water Poet is a big, rambling pub based in Spitalfields, Central London, with a distinctly bohemian feel. Ornate touches, comfortable leather sofas and armchairs on a wooden floor combine to create a stylish interior. The menu includes their popular Sunday roast, a good selection of real ales, craft beers and decent wines. Their basement bar doubles as a function room used for weekly comedy nights and dance lessons. On a summer’s day, the pub’s large beer garden is hard to beat.
The Shakespeare Inn, Coalport, Shropshire (The Good Pub Guide 2017, p. 660)
The Bard was bound to turn up. William Shakespeare is famed namely for his plays, but he also wrote 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems and other verses. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” is perhaps his most famous line of poetry. Situated in Coalport, this welcoming, early 19th-century inn has an interior of timbering, bare stone walls and tiled floors, and on the outside a smart white and black front complete with a colourful bust of the Bard himself. The pub is a very handy stop for visitors of Severn Gorge Park as well as the Coalport China Museum, both of which are nearby. On the menu you will find a great range of food from sandwiches through pub standards to international dishes, all good value and generously served. Their drinks include well-kept Everards, Hobsons, Ludlow and a guest ale. If the weather’s warm enough, you can enjoy their hospitality in a tiered garden area.