In my quest for an authentic old English tavern it was suggested that I should visit The Hatch Inn while in East Sussex. The journey to the hamlet of Coleman's Hatch is via a country road through Ashdown Forest. Roadside signs warn of wandering deer, eyes glint in the woods as headlights tease out the route through the unmarked tree lined road. Suddenly there it is, a cross roads with a pub in what appears to be the middle of nowhere.
First impression of the brightly lit tavern was 'this is it'. Clinker wood construction of the upper floor with its Tudor style windows and low profile gave testimony to caring owners who have preserved this architectural legacy. The front yard suggests an old style farmyard with vehicles strategically parked to prevent it being used casually as parking.
The entrance door requires a slight dip of the head as you enter the low ceiling bar area. Inside is the real thing. Here locals chatted as they lounged on wooden benches and supped pints of ale. This may sound fanciful but it was as I found it. I felt tempted to join, that international beers would be inappropriate and so I bought a Larkin's Ale. The fact that I am not much enamored with either English Mild or Bitter was neither here n'or there, it just seemed appropriate.
Sitting at a scrubbed wooden table I was surprised that the adjoining room was laid out as a dining area. I really could not see how they could fit a kitchen and two dining areas as well as a bar into this modestly sized building. I was not aware that the Inn was an eatery and as I had eaten earlier did not partake.
Pint in hand I studied the pictures in the wall as I walked on the springy floor with the ceiling little more than a foot above my modest height. Locals took no notice of the curious stranger just getting on with entertaining themselves. I absorbed the atmosphere and felt well pleased that I had found such a place.
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