19 June 2018

Pub

In the limestone country of the High Peak, the main road from Stoney Middleton soon brings you to the hamlet of Wardlow Mires. There is a very old pub there. It is called "The Three Stags' Heads Inn".

Nowadays it is only open to customers at weekends. I have driven or walked past it a hundred times or more but I had never been inside it until Sunday afternoon.

I pushed open the old wooden door to find a roaring log fire burning in an old-fashioned kitchen range. Seven people were sitting in the small room on  a variety of seats and ahead of me was a small wooden bar with  three beer pumps on the counter. Two bright-eyed whippets and a wire-haired Jack Russell  were also present.

I ordered half a pint of "Daily Bread" and turned to observe my fellow customers more closely.  They clearly knew each other and seemed a little surprised that a stranger had entered their midst.

An old man with long white hair and an unkempt white beard had a copy of "The Sunday Times" open on his lap. He was siting in an ancient Windsor chair with spindles. Across from him was another bearded man in a black T-shirt. These words were printed on the front of it - "Not Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting". Sitting next to him was his missus in a red anorak. 

A ruddy-faced local man was  comfortably settled into  his corner seat and on the window seat was the owner of the Jack Russell. His thin-haired companion tried to convince me that the dog owner was Ronan Keating of Boyzone fame but it was just a joke. 

There was a second room on the other side of the fire, A few more customers were drinking in there and there were two stuffed foxes. This was the very opposite of a designer pub. The yard thick walls were painted dark green and there were old pictures of peakland scenes upon the walls.
Returning to the first room, there was a curious stuffed hare in the window. He was on his hind legs and holding a small rifle. Behind the ruddy-faced man in that dark corner there was a glass case containing a mummified cat. I was informed that it had been discovered in a wall cavity during  repair work in Victorian times. It is believed that the cat had been placed in the wall to ward off evil spirits when the pub was built at the start of the seventeenth century.

I was only inside "The Three Stags' Heads Inn" for ten minutes but in that short time I had spoken to everyone in the bar room and learnt a good deal about the history of the  pub. It would have been nice to buy another beer and blend in with the locals, whiling away the rest of the afternoon but I had to get back to the wedding venue search party.
The mummified cat

28 comments:

  1. A bit macabre for my tastes! But -- blog post!

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    1. Yes indeed Jenny - it is a blogpost! Well-observed.

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  2. Some of these old places seem to maintain their character. Yes, you should have stayed to blend in with the locals. the hell with the wedding. They'd wait for you.

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    1. I can imagine you sitting in that room Red. "Another pint Keith?"

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  3. I would have been out of there like a shot. The sight of the stuffed animals would have been enough for me.

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    1. Are you not a big fan of taxidermy Briony?

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    2. we have a good Museum here in Brighton called 'The Booth Museum of Natural History, it's just up the road from where I live. Our kids used to love walking around looking at all of the stuffed birds and animals but I was not that keen.

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  4. I do not like stuffed animals; no place for a wedding that. The mumifiemu cat makes me think, ahem, of what could have happened to our cat for a very silly thing I did when I was five years old! He was a black cat called Nerino. One day I discovered bleach could turn things white so I tried to wash him in bleach in our back yard. The minute I dropped him into the plastic basin, he shot out like a missle to hide in a thin opening between our garage wall and the brick wall fence, and where he got stuck. The fire engines were called. Luckily the bleach did not harm him. Of course, I received a very good scolding, plus my best dress was ruined.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Naughty Maria! You should have been arrested by the polizia and brought to court for animal cruelty! The wedding will not be happening in the pub. It's just very nearby.

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  5. It makes you wonder how some of those places make any money. It must be a hard slog for many of them these days.

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    1. Apparently the owner of the pub is mainly a potter. He lives on the premises and has his pottery round the back. The pub is a kind of weekend pastime for him. In the past there were stables and the pub was a useful stopping place for coaches travelling between east and west.

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  6. You DID learn a lot in ten minutes. I thought Yorkshire folk were taciturn.

    The big question is, will you go back?

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    1. These are not Yorkshire folk Vivian. They are over the border in Derbyshire. I will be back in there because The Beloved Daughter's wedding celebrations will be taking place in the same hamlet.

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  7. Hi YP, There’s a story just waiting to be told there but maybe it was told to us.

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    1. I think that pub is filled with old stories Terry.

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  8. You see, Mr. Pudding, Terry is right. Look at what you learned in ten minutes. Just imagine what stories you could dig up in an hour. I betcha enough material for you to write a very scary mystery book!

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    1. "The Mummified Cat"

      The Colorado couple's hire car had broken down right outside the old pub. Rain began to teem down as they hurried inside hoping to secure a place to sleep just for one night.

      Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed silvery white in the Derbyshire darkness.

      "Aye. That can sleep int barn," smirked the landlord whose grizzled face resembled that of a sea captain from long ago.

      etc. etc.

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  9. Are you sure you did not dream that pub and its customers? It does sound like something that has dropped into our time through a rift in the time-space-continuum, right from the past.

    I feel sorry for the cat, hare and foxes and hope their ends came quickly without too much pain.

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    1. There was something rather dreamlike about the pub visit but I swear I didn't make it up.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Sounds like a 'proper' pub to me. (I deleted my previous comment because the grammar was bad and I didn't want you to give me a hundred lines.)

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    1. Hundred lines? Only a sound thrashing achieves the discipline that we require here at exclusive Bash Street School!

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  12. For some perverse reason I actually like the stuffed hare holding a rifle.

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    1. A psychotherapist should be able to help you Jennifer!

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  13. Here in NZ we have no such beautiful pubs,some from the 1880's are truly rare gems. (Gumdiggers Whare's) The Wh is pronounced as an F

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    1. Though I have been to New Zealand I knew nothing about the gum diggers of yesteryear. Thanks for calling by Fiona.

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  14. I noticed a couple of what look like women's legs behind the hare's back. What's that all about, I wonder?

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  15. Oh good Lord. Is that cat still in the wall? What a quirky place.

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