The Bell is nearer to the river, and Walberswick village green, than the Anchor. I suspect many day visitors may not get past The Bell, which is a shame because they are two different pubs entirely. and both worthy of investigating. It’s set back, beyond a little green on which the pillory sign stands, and apart from the odd motor car, everything looks like it might have been there forever.
There’s two bars, but only one was open, there looked to be a dining room as well, but I couldn’t work out how to get to it. There was evidence of food being available but not much activity in the culinary department when we got there, probably because it was too late in the afternoon.
Inside everything is very up hill and down dale, lots of small side rooms and traditional features. A bit quirky and a lot less manicured than the other pub in the village. Very clean and well kept, but nicely worn over time. You’d pay a fortune to an interior designer to get this effect, but thankfully it all felt very genuine here, and I was well impressed, hence all the photos. The bench seat in front of the fire that was neither totally independent, nor wholly part of the room, was particularly interesting. The high curved back rest served not only to ease those sitting at it, but also as a partition and a fire screen at the same time. It was almost a shame to wander outside into the very pleasant and spacious beer garden. Oh, for a winter’s eve and a roaring fire.
Southwold BItter was decent and I rated it Good. I could tell from Mrs C’s face that the Regatta wasn’t going down as well. I tasted it; flat, warm, and devoid of any life, it wasn’t tart or sour, just tasted like it had been pulled this morning and been sat on a shelf somewhere.
Fair play, it was instantly changed, accompanied with copious amounts of ‘very sorry’ and ‘I’ll get someone to check the barrel.’ They didn’t even charge any extra for the half of keg Mosaic it was replaced with. I couldn’t tell you the exact prices because there was no price list I could see. I think they hide them in all the pubs round here. It seemed very reasonable for Southwold at £6.70 for a pint and a half, and a half of cider.
Dog friendly, family friendly and the wi-fi worked at the bottom of the beer garden where everyone had congregated in the warm sun leaving the pub empty. The Gents was superb, with bespoke wall art
As we sat talking, I made mental comparisons with the Anchor. It was noticeable there, and elsewhere, that the posher people’s children, the plummy ones, are a lot worse behaved than the off spring of the unaffected, who were playing nicely without hindrance to other customers or the pubs property. Mrs C, a senior teacher, and daughter C, a comparatively more junior teacher, both of small children, confirmed this phenomenon. Apparently it’s down to boundary setting, or lack of.
As I wandered around Walberswick earlier, I noticed a plethora of those blue plaques they put on the walls of houses that famous people lived in. To be fair, I didn’t think such a small village could produce so many celebrated people. Maybe they’d all owned holiday homes here?
They’d even got one hung up inside the pub? At first I thought someone was having a bit of a laugh. Turns out that Mr Wally Webb was a very well loved local character who had done a lot for the village, including work on many houses in his trade of builder. Apparently he was instrumental in setting up the Walberswick British Open Crabbing competition which became so successful they had to stop holding it! The bridge by the river where everyone goes crabbing has been renamed in his honour – I love stories like that.
Verdict – Unpretentious traditional village pub with nice beer garden and I don’t hold it against them for serving up a ‘dodgy’ half of cask ale because they instantly rectified things. The experience has, however, further reinforced Mrs C’s preference for keg beers over cask on the basis of; ‘if you don’t chose it in the first place you can never get a dodgy one!’ Which is a salutary lesson to licensees and the more vehement campaigners for cask ale.