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“The friendliest pub I have ever been in. A real favourite.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Bull Inn

The Bull Inn
Three Legs Cross, Wadhurst, England
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Ranked #2 of 12 Restaurants in Wadhurst
Cuisines: Contemporary
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Ashford, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“The friendliest pub I have ever been in. A real favourite.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2013

We were taken to The Bull by some friends who had been before and who were remembered. What a welcome by all the staff. This is an old, very traditional pub, nothing fancy but with a lovely atmosphere. There was a 'Pensioner's' menu available which had the most delicious curried parsnip soup. Us two girls decided against soup as we thought it might be a bit much but the boys decided to have it as their starter. When it came and we had a taste it was delicious so decided to have some but had a portion between us served as two servings complete with bread and butter. It was not a problem to the staff to accommodate us, in fact they suggested it. The rest of the meal was delicious, we had haloumi salad the boys steak and kidney pudding with mash and veg. We declined dessert but there was a good choice. Lovely meal, great, happy staff who made sure we were well looked after. Without a doubt we will return.

  • Visited June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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31 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Brighton
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Lovely pub, great food... and they found my phone!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2013 via mobile

Out for a day in the country, with a visit to a national trust house, lovely walk and finishing up at the Bull Inn for Sunday lunch. Jack my husband had done his research and the Bull Inn appeared to be the best place to eat around. The restaurant area was full, and we learned they get booked weeks in advance. They were happy to serve us in the bar if we could find a table, which we did.

We really enjoyed our roast lunch and could see why the pub was so popular. At the end of the day I realised that I had left my iPhone somewhere, but not sure where. We retraced our footsteps but no luck. Then I phoned all the places we had been that day. When I phoned the Bull Inn they were both sympathetic and helpful. Unlike a couple of other places I had phoned the woman asked me for my contact details should the phone show up. It was later found in the car park and they phoned me straight away. When I tried to offer money to the young who handed it over he refused it.

The pub had the feel of a place run by a family that took great pride in it. We had a lovely meal, was thrilled to get my phone back and will definitely be going back.

Visited June 2013
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skichick09
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
85 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
“Possibly my favourite pub”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

I love this pub for many reasons, it is in the middle of nowhere, but not far from Wadhurst itself - typically surrounded by rolling countryside and it is a pub in the traditional sense, no fancy curtains or interior design but extremely friendly and welcoming. Locals, walkers, cyclists and of course lots of dogs all mixed together. We have even seen horses tethered outside while their riders enjoy a refreshment.

Good selection of pub grub and lovely garden for the summer time or a roaring fire in the snow.

Make sure you pay them a visit if in the area.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Is this the loveliest pub family in England?”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2013

Be warned. This is a lengthy review.


All in all, this pub is one hell of a find. Or re-find.
This is how it went.
It was about noon and a crisp March day with a sharp wind.
We boldly pushed on the front door of The Bull at Three Legged Cross, just outside the attractive village of Ticehurst on the Sussex/Kent border, at lunchtime not knowing if this lovely old pub was open on a Monday - increasingly, pubs aren't, which I find odd as real ale, a living product, only lasts for five days, tops, once you've broached the cask - so you're reducing the time in which you can serve saleable beer by 20%. And during that closed period, the yeast in the lines from cask to bar room pump is turning into a sludge which sticks to the inside of the lines.
The ancient pub door opened.
We were embraced, not by the simmering resentment which we endured from the landlady of The Rose and Crown in nearby Mayfield (documented on Trip), but by warmth and the fragrance of a log fire.
And wait ... we were further embraced, enveloped, even, by something just as good.
"Good morning ...' pause while a watch was consulted, "no, good AFTERNOON," sang out the friendly bloke behind the bar who, we later find, has been running it for a year or so.
"Have you come far ...?" he enquired.
Have I come far? Good afternoon?
Something's going on here.
Then it became crystal clear.
"Hang on," I thought. "This is how landlords were supposed to greet customers in 'the golden age'."
A word about the golden age of pubs: the first thing is that, obviously, it never happened, but for men who love the concept of perfect pubs it ... sort of did. Even though we know it didn't. We SO want it to have existed. And return. Or arrive.
We approached the bar and a warm smile - there is something seriously right with this pleasant landlord.
For a start, he obviously hasn't read the handbook on 'how to avoid welcoming customers,' masterminded by Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns etc, all the big businesses intent on ruining Britain's pub culture, and all, naturally, endorsed by the pub trade's self-proclaimed 'professional body', an ineffective and self-absorbed outfit mysteriously named 'BII". And an intriguing fact about the BII is that it has proved rather publicly and convincingly that it cannot keep its own finances under any semblance of control, yet feels it can lecture others on the topic of running 'a better business'.
My own belief is that these jokers are all in the secret pay of the supermarkets, as Britain's pubs, in the main, appear intent on handing the trade of selling beer lock, stock and firkin barrel to Tesco's inter alia.
Brief resumé of the pub scene (with poncey Latin tag) over, back to our visit.
We entered the Bull.
There was a big beautiful log fire which had been lit several hours earlier and as a result was belting out the heat.
"That's nice," I said, pointing at the fire. (Masterful use of the sheer depth and richness of the English language, you'll note.)
"Yes," laughed an extremely attractive young lady, who suddenly appeared behind the bar. "It takes me ages to light it in the mornings."
This vision of heart-melting perfection, and she gets better, is Georgina, who after chattily giving us a wine and a very good pint of Harvey's, asked, "shall I put your drinks on a tab?"
Compare this with my visit to the Bell in Ticehurst (documented on Trip).
Just to test, I asked, 'do you need my bank card?'
Georgina exchanged a quick and fairly shocked glance with her dad (for it is he) and said, 'no ... we trust our customers.'
And something very lovely happened. We had an extremely enjoyable time in an English pub. This is an experience that's been outlawed across most of England, but there are some renegade landlords desperately holding out, like Soviet partisans in 1942 Smolensk. Or Kursk.
Georgina and her parents run this pub and, listen to this, my hands tremble as I write this, but this is how it appears to be: they appear to enjoy their jobs. They are naturally hospitable and very, very polite. And happy. And their good cheer communicates itself very obviously.
Now, I could be wrong about them being the nicest pub people I've met in years, and their chest freezer in the kitchen may well be stuffed with the cadavers of customers who've complained, but I don't think I am wrong.
You see, I've spent my career getting to understand, on brief acquaintance, people running pubs - from PLC CEOs to the landlords from Scotland to Jersey and from Northern Ireland to Wales to East Anglia - and I can spot the charlatans, the fraudsters, the fakes, those who don't have a feel for pubs. I don't see it here on my own doorstep in The Bull at Ticehurst.
These people genuinely care.
Here's an example: during our visit, a middle-aged lady and her elderly, blind, rather wobbly and confused mum appeared hesitantly through the front door and Georgina's dad raced out and helped guide the elder lady, with a running commentary of, 'there's a step UP here, ... now, a step DOWN, would you like to be near the fire or would you prefer a window seat, now, we're now turning to your left etc'.
The elder lady said, "it's that nice man again, isn't it?"
"Yes mum," said the daughter.
And I found this quite moving.
If you've a blind relative (my dad's blind) you'll understand. With blind people, you've got to say, 'there's a step UP or DOWN' you don't presume mentioning 'a step' is enough. We assume they magically know whether it's up or down, but they can't, and need to tense their foot, leg and body accordingly and if they get it wrong it's a shock and they topple a bit and feel embarrassed. And it gets more distressing with age.
So, this attention to detail is important. The landlord knew what he was about. Good bloke. Top marks. As I say, it was moving. I can imagine my 83 year old mum helping my 84 year old pop fumble his way in here and they'd both feel safe and looked-after.
Most, but not all, landlords would simply watch, wordlessly.
So, let's further analyse this scene as it's important: the daughter wanted to give her fairly immobile and blind mum a treat. We presume she doesn't live next door therefore she'd have to drive past several pubs to spend her money at The Bull. Why didn't they visit pubs closer to their home? Why did they even leave their own centrally-heated homes to go out into the freezing March day? It's because they knew they'd be well cared for at The Bull at Ticehurst.
And having seated the two ladies comfortably near the fire (old dears feel the cold somethin' cruel, y'hear what 'ahm sayin'), the landlord said, 'just relax and I'll fetch your drinks ... shall I bring a menu over?"
Now, as I say, this may be all a brilliantly acted front and, as I type this, the two ladies could well be in the chest freezer, but I think it's genuine.
Here's another nice little experience from our visit: while I was looking round this pub - used to visit it in the late 80s when I rented half an oasthouse nearby - Georgina spotted my pint glass was empty, came over and asked my wife, 'shall I get another?'.
'Good idea,' said Lady Denimes. Returning with the perfectly-kept pint, Georgina stayed and, while glancing to check no-one needs serving, chatted to my wife about travelling. I heard lots of feminine laughter.
And I drank the second pint, thus ensuring two things: I left the pub even happier, and the Bull had made a bit more profit. You wouldn't let a guest in your own house sit there with an empty glass, would you? No, you'd come over and ask if they'd like another - why don't pubs do this during quiet times? Selling is service.
So, in the current era, the worst climate for pubs in the trade's history, with x pubs (make up a figure, everyone else does) closing daily, The Bull at Ticehurst isn't just worthy of surviving. It will survive and prosper as long as this family continue to run it.

Brief interlude

As I'm in a garrulous frame of mind (just opened a bottle of wine, the evening after my visit), I'll expand on my relationship with The Bull at Ticehurst and it's importance as a community asset.
In the testosterone rich, thrusting Tory-fuelled, hubristic economic explosion that was Britain in the late 80s, The Bull at the weekends used to be rammed to the rafters with a nicely mixed cliental, including Sloane Rangers with, even then, enormous 4x4s, parked inconsiderately. (I can visualise the current generation of chelsea tractor drivers being taught 'inconsiderate parking' from the 80s generation, 'no, Arabella, you've left room for another vehicle ... now just get it up on the pavement so mums have to push their prams into the road ..." ).
The Bull, in those shoulder-padded, Dallas-watching days, would be full of sleek girls with stripey Laura Ashley blouses (turned-up collars compulsory), and the regulation string of pearls, leered at by booming-voiced 100% beef-fed young men in Barbours, pink chinos and docksiders (no socks).
Weekends couldn't come quick enough for me as the weekly ebbing tide washed the OK Yah brigade out to 'the sticks', for the rich amusement of the locals.
On one visit to the bar I was, with little attempt at disguise, monitoring conversations on each side of me with the efficiency of GCHQ Cheltenham. One drawling voice to my right went, 'of course, the old man was clobbered by Capital Gains ...' and on my left I thoroughly enjoyed a female voice delivering, in a petulant whine, '... but daddy, Fleetfoot's too small for me to ride now, I must have another pony ...' The 'girl' was in her mid-20s.
This entertainment aside, I have many happy memories of The Bull, as when I moved to the village, I'd left a loveless marriage and a deathly job in PR, and the pub became a symbol for me of re-engaging with life and a delightul new and flourishing career in journalism, I'll add, immodestly.
The Bull was important in the community. Each pub puts around £100,000 plus into the local economy, they're where people meet to celebrate, commiserate, catch-up, chill, just get out of the home for a change. Most husbands, wives, girl and boyfriends meet in a pub. If that pub closes, a part of the community dies.
All businesses are cyclical, and at that time, the Bull was riding high. The then owner died, I believe of throat cancer, and from what I could see the business then started its long journey south, the nadir of which I experienced about two years ago when, for old times sake, I went in one chilly autumnal day. The fire was unlit, the bar cold, a radio was playing loudly to an empty room, and the barman just stared at us without saying anything, not even a gesture of acknowledgement, let alone a smile.
Equally wordlessly, we turned on our heels and left. The day seemed even colder after that. It saddened me because that unwelcoming building was an important part of new experiences that helped me rebuild my life when I was low.
So, I believe that Georgina and her family are bringing The Bull back from monochrome misery to it's own new Golden Age.
I left the pub happy and have returned. Many times - Georgina's got a sister!

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ticehurst, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“The Bull is pub of choice in Ticehurst”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

We had a really excellent lunch on Good Friday. The pub was bursting at the seams with customers, but we still had a delicious lunch served very promptly by the welcoming landlordcand his team. We ordered our drinks at the table so no queuing at the bar. The Bull offers all that The Bell doesn't - good food, good service and good value for money. For any visitors to Ticehurst I strongly recommend you choose The Bull and not The Bell which continues to disappoint. The Bull really deserves to succeed.

  • Visited March 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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