Christine Cyrne, Director of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), recommends some great family friendly pubs across England.
These days, pubs tend to be a bit more family friendly than they used to be. Some chains allow children into pubs and offer children-friendly menus. But it is rare that families are allowed on the premises at all times. In most cases, pubs will have a restriction so that families have to leave by a certain time so it is worth checking if you are likely to be at a pub in an evening.
There are some great pubs in England that will delight both the young and old. Here are five across the country that are worth a visit (and a pint or two of course).
Kent: The Robin Hood, Chatford
Perhaps not the easiest pub to find, this 700-year-old Grade II-listed Inn is close to the M2 and M20 and is reported to be one of the oldest pubs in England. It used to be visited by pilgrims on their journey along The Pilgrims Way.
There is a covered patio, a large garden with a play area, several animals and bird aviaries to keep children entertained. The pub hosts a number of events, some of which are suitable for the whole family such as a firework display in November.
Hertfordshire: Queen Adelaide, Croydon, Royston
Although not as old as The Robin Hood, the Queen Adelaide too has a long history, being built in 1752.
There is plenty of outside seating and a well-equipped children’s play area with slides and swings for the energetic.
The pub is not too far off the A1 and offers a handy overnight stay with single, double and family rooms, making it a possible stop-over on the way in or out of London. The restaurant boasts a menu consisting of dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. To accompany the food, there is a good range of real ales often with one from a local brewery.
Warwickshire: The Virgins & Castle, Kenilworth
Another old pub; this time the building dates from the late 15th century but records show it has been a pub since 1563. There are a number of rooms creating lots of separate drinking areas. The oak-panelled walls, mix of furniture and pictures all add to the character.
Unusually, the menu includes Filipino food as well as English dishes. The pub has appeared in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and there are six handpumps, of which four are from regional brewer, Everards, and two guests.
A heated walled garden can be found at the rear of the pub. As well as welcoming families, The Virgins & Castle welcomes pets. There is wheelchair access and facilities for disabled people.
Cumbria: Spinners Arms, Carlisle
This too is a pub that is listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, selling real ale and a real cider. Situated in a village, about half a mile from Carlisle, it is a cosy and welcoming pub with unique animal decorated guttering. It is handy for the Cumbrian Way so is popular with walkers (and their dogs).
The pub is family owned and run; a traditional English pub that prides itself on serving the local community and welcoming families. As well as darts and pool, there are dominoes or cards and you can find a variety of games, colouring books, jigsaws and so on to keep everyone occupied. Food is served Sunday lunchtime.
Architecturally, the pub is of interest. It is an example of a Carlisle State Management Scheme pub, designed by Harry Redfern and built in 1930. It’s a Grade II listed building with many original features, including open fires, tiled fireplaces and wood panelling. There is also an outside seating area.
Berkshire: Bounty, Riverside, Cookham
Another pub that is popular with walkers and their dogs – it can only be reached by foot (the beer is delivered by boot). It is situated right on the River Thames and the outside patio drinking area gives fine views and the opportunity for bird watching. In addition, there is a garden and play area for children.
The inside is an eclectic mix of knick-knacks. Food is available during the day with dishes to satisfy the younger palate. The Bounty regularly appears in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and stocks real ale from Rebellion Brewery that brews in nearby Marlow Bottom.
The Bounty has unusual opening times. It is open every day from Easter through to September and then opens only at weekends.
Check out CAMRA to find out more about England’s fantastic pubs and real ale festivals.
Know any other family friendly pubs? Tell us all about them in the comments below!