Pub for Pilgrims

On a flying visit to Southampton I asked the locals what the oldest, nicest pub was in the city. Unanimously, they declared it to be the Duke of Wellington in Bugle Street. The pub, which did not disappoint, is situated in what's left of the old town, which must have been hellishly bombed in the war. Such a shame. Much of the city reminded me of an American city in layout, open and wide. I guess they had the chance to start again after the bombs.

If you find yourself in Southampton, do look up the Duke of Wellington and give it some custom. It's our kind of place, with our kind of people. Hosts Vic and Lynn have created a welcoming atmosphere, with a good selection of beers in a nicely historic interior — the building has parts dating back to 1220. The pub feels like a pub and is perfect for good conversation, which is the whole point of a pub.
Capotain hats
They say that the Pilgrim Fathers would have passed what was formerly known as the Bere House — the Duke was renamed in 1815 — on their way to The Mayflower. I doubt they were tempted to go in to wet the old whistle. You won't see many capotain hats in the pub today, but I did spot a grey herringbone tweed jacket worn with a red polo neck sweater, and a pair of Dainite-soled black brogues.
Rum-laced beer
Let the beer drinking begin. I enjoyed a beer laced with rum at the Duke. I don't know if that's common in naval towns, but it was strong and delicious. And it put me in the mood for a little more.
The Dancing Man
After fortification at the Duke, I found the Dancing Man micro-brewery at the corner of the same street. I enjoyed an excellent roast beef lunch here and some of the beer they brew on the premises. The Dancing Man is situated in the Wool House, a medieval warehouse with walls as thick as I don't know what (and that's why it's still standing). They say houses on modern developments are built with a life-expectancy of sixty years; this should be six hundred years.

Incidentally, Dr Laurie Wright of Southampton University, pictured in a fetching waistcoat in The Dancing Man below, is studying the sustainability of small breweries. From what I gather, I think we need to grow more varieties of hops in this country to become more self-sufficient.

Recollection becomes hazy at this point — I'm no Patrick Leigh Fermor — but after turning left at the front door of the Dancing Man I eventually discovered the rather pleasant Oxford Street. The street appears to have a lot going on. I took a position in the Caskaway Tasting Rooms, a micro bar serving an excellent selection of craft beer. The locals were very friendly. A nice lady compared me favourably with Benedict Cumberbatch. There's absolutely no resemblance, but the subsequent hug and kiss was an unexpected treat — thanks Benedict — as was the milk stout I tried. I'm fairly convinced it was Mad Cow by Southampton's Tap It Brewing Co., who also have a bar on the same street.
Nearer than heaven
Here's where the story ends. All that's left for me to do is to thank Southampton for its hospitality and an excellent couple of hours. I'd like to embellish my reminiscence — in the manner of Paddy Fermor — by saying that the sounds of an impromptu gig by Southampton's greatest band the Delays drifted into the air as I was due to leave. Sadly not the case, but we can remind ourselves of their magical mix of dream-pop and harmonies with the wonderful Nearer Than Heaven.


  1. A very good place to stay in Southampton is 'The Pig in the Wall'. They serve their very own excellent homemade sausage rolls which are ideal for soaking up all of Tweedy's aforementioned brews...
    ~ Silbo

    1. Thanks for the intel Silbo. I will be back. Best wishes, Tweedy


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