The Crooked Pot, Abingdon Road
Previously the Berkshire House:
Heavilly NuMorrelled. I went in one evening and back the following afternoon and it felt exactly the same because of the lighting. The same crowd of regulars were there and the music was the same. Same NuMorrells tat spread across the pub, obviously supplied by Ye Olde Tat Company, a mass-producing subsiduary of Thomas Hardy's, Dorset. Standard expensive Morrells menu. Mind you, the Varsity was good and the staff friendly. A typical Morrells clone - as regards pubs round here you need walk no further south than the Folly Bridge Inn. November 2001.
Update: This is now, like the majority of the old Morrells houses, owned by Greene King and generally referred to as just "the Berkshire". Although the decor hasn't changed, the weathering of the NuMorrelled features has softened them and the place is starting to gather its own distinct atmosphere. When we went in there was big screen sport showing, but this soon finished and we were able to relax to decent GK Abbot and IPA and non-disruptive music. Quite a local crowd usually. Pork scratchings, but not particuarly authentic ones. Increases from a clone pub 2 stars to a repectable 3 stars. March 2004.
Update: Having been one of the many Greene King pubs looking for new management recently, the place is currently closed after an arson attack a very short time before the new boss was due to take over. Update to follow on the new look whenever it's fixed! March 2009.
Update: A completely refurbished pub with an interesting new name stands on Abingdon Road. The outside is fresh, but somewhat dark looking and the sign features a witch. The inside is now clearly split into two areas, one tabled and the other a more traditional bar. However, both have big TVs as before. Lots of wood and pastel shades, it all looks quite classy and wouldn't be out of place as a student place in the city centre. However, the custom is the same local crowd who are slightly insular and now seem to congregate even more around the pool table. There's a couple of Greene King beers and Wychwood Hobgoblin, which was quite cheap for Oxford and on average condition. All in all, it's an interesting new theme, but a strange place to put a pub like this. An average Oxford tavern, it balances out the pubs down the Abdingdon Road. October 2009.
The Blackbird, Blackbird Leys Road
This pub seems to have the reputation for being very rough in a stereotype that stems from the area itself. Stereotype or not, one does hear tales. However, when I went on a Saturday, with the place packed, it felt just like a thriving town pub with no bother. Probably best not to go in wearing designer gear or college scarf, though, students! Quite large, with an L-shaped lounge and a bar to the back ("no overalls or work boots"), and a bit tatty in places, but it all adds to the character. Friendly service, with some tasty sounding hot bar snacks. There was one draught pump that had no pump clip and had a very vestigial look about it. Therefore this pub is classified "No Beer Worth Drinking" and therefore automatically gets one star. Had it even had Greene King IPA it would easily have scored two. Sky TV showing sports on a discreet small screen, a pool table, and notices reminding all customers not to buy, sell, or use drugs on the premises. Also, which I quite liked, a mobile phone ban is in place. February 2003.
The Blue Mile, Cowley Road, Littlemore
CLOSED as of late 2008
Previously the Queen's Arms:
Absolutely dead when Roo and I went in, but it was just after opening time on a Sunday. Single roomed pub with furniture falling apart at the seams, dart board and pool table. Jukebox rather annoying loud for an empty pub. Beer was Courage Best only, but refreshingly cheap, like all the pubs out here. I feel we caught this place at a bad time. It does feel as if it would be a great place to come in the evening when there might be quite a crowd in. As it was, the landlord had nothing better to do than play the fruit machine and let his kids wander about. April 2002
Update: Have noticed that this place is reopening under a new name, The Blue Mile, with suitable blue paintwork and "No drugs in this pub" signs. Will investigate soon. April 2003.
Update: Closed. 'Nuff said. January 2009.
The Famous Bullnose Morris, Watlington Road
Large estate pub, originally named The Bullnose Morris after the classic car built at the Cowley plant nearby, and renamed The Famous a couple of years ago for no apparent reason, although I'm guessing this was at the time when it was NuMorrelled. It now conforms to the Rustic Charm archetype according to my classification, and consists of a huge lounge and a reasonably sized bar. This place must get packed when Oxford are playing at home. Beer is the standard Greene King varieties, a fair bit cheaper on the estate compared to the city centre. Very comfy, decent service, and lots of bar snacks. Quite a family pub as well. Pretty good, but nothing hugely special. February 2003.
The Catherine Wheel, Henley Road, Sandford-on-Thames
Village local in the quiet part of Sandford on the main road away from the river. Stone and beams abound, but with very confortable modern furniture. Plenty of brass and other genuinely old-looking features. The pub is split into the main lounge, a side dining room to the right of the door, and a pool table area to the back of the pub. Service and locals were very friendly, contrary to what I had expected from other reports I have heard. The separate eating area neatly segregates the food crowd from the drinkers. Beer was Brakspear - not the best pint I've had, but tolerable. This pub is a very relaxing place to come to escape the pressures of the city. Together with the Fox, this pub proves that Sandford is well worth visiting for things other than river views at the lock. May 2002
Update: Getting court in a flash flood on the way, I revisited this lovely pub at lunchtime a year later. The beer quality has improved and the food looks excellent. Also, prices aren't too bad at all. Worth getting soaked for! May 2003.
Update: Food great and cheap. Classic pub food in excellent village pub surroundings. September 2005.
Update: Unfortunately rather more local and unfriendly the last time I visited, with the beer being rather mediocre and the atmosphere being less rural and more cliquey. Prior to the last time I passed through Sandford it was also shut down and I wondered whether it was permanently closed but it is now open again but I regret that the welcome and ale I got there last time only justifies three stars. June 2010.
The Duke of Monmouth, Abingdon Road
Quite, confortable town pub. Not particularly inspiring but a quiet relaxing pint guarenteed. Greene King pub, quite cheap, and the Abbot was excellent. Perfectly average pub, but not really worth the trek from town. November 2001
Update: Spent more time here recently with the reknowned artist Mr W.A.Wood, consuming several pints of cheap but very good Abbot. The food looks quite nice and the atmosphere a bit better than I remembered. Certainly a fairly good local pub. June 2003.
Update: Another of the many Greene King establishments that have been looking for new management, this place has just found it in the shape of a couple of Swiss friends. Could make for an interesting new menu! Report to follow once they've settled in. March 2009.
Update: The Monmouth is getting a very good reputation for its Swiss-themed food that I haven't, as yet, tried (but intend to). The insides have been spruced up a bit. The pub is roughly U-shaped from the front door. The left stem is the "restaurant" area and is now laid out beautifully with tablecloths. The right stem leads around the bar and thence to a door leading to a separate bar area. The main lounge area is decorated with historic pictures of Oxford. Usually a local crowd pervails but I've always felt welcome. The beers remains Greene King - IPA, Abbot and a seasonal. Being autumn, I had the Bonkers Conkers, which was really well kept. I'm pretty close to awarding a fourth star to this place and will be coming back for the food. October 2009.
Update: John Karban eloquently updates: "Easily overlooked as yet another anonymous pub along the Abingdon Rd but for the intriguing sign on the chalkboard outside proudly proclaiming "Swiss Cuisine". A glimpse of white tablecloths as you whiz by trying to avoid the cyclists doesn't add to the allure (Swiss food and real ale is as improbable a juxtaposition as a degree course in Hebrew and Forestry). The contrast continues inside with an elegant dining room that you could almost imagine overlooking the water jet on Lake Geneva, adjacent to a very plain bar area filled with tattooed people drinking lager watching sport on the huge TV. There's also a bar in a separate room to the side. Greene King standards plus a varying guest ale are in good
condition and sensibly priced. Must try the Swiss food on a future visit, there's a tempting array of Rosti and Geschnetzeltes on the menu, not outrageously priced; cheap hot dogs and burgers for those with no tastebuds. April 2010." Many thanks. I am also planning a trip for the food there. Will keep you all posted.
The Fishes, North Hinksey
I trekked to North Hinksey expecting a delightful country pub and ended up in what was clearly a NuMorrelled establishment. Still, the location is excellent, the Varsity was on form and it was not too busy, with a gentle hubbub of conversation. Public bar round the front, with the food ordering area and table towards the back north end. Feels the kind of place where city execs would "do lunch". December 2001
Update: As I was in a rush, I exchanged a pleasant country walk for a pleasant country cycle to revisit here, again at a lunchtime. There were more locals in this time, and not so many business types, so it felt more like a real pub. The beer has moved to Greene King, and the Ruddles was good and not too expensive. Has maintained its status as a decent pub in lovely surroundings. May 2003.
Update: Has a very good reputation both for good quality lunch food and also as a gastropub. The journey out, if taken by bike or on foot, is always delightful. I had forgotten just how large the beer garden out the back was and it is truly gorgeous on a warm day. Contrary to rumours I'd heard, this is still primarily a pub with a good food section rather than an unforgivibly transformed gastropub. The front part of the lounge, with a separate bar area off to the right of the front door is definitely a pub, with the option for food if you so desire. There is only standard Greene King ale on offer but this is kept to good standards although could be a bit cheaper. There is also a diverse array of bar snacks on offer. The back parts are foody, with a lovely conservatory area but as these are clearly intended for eaters only so are beyond the scope of this guide. Well worth coming out to when the weather shines but only come for food otherwise. May 2010.
The Folly Bridge Inn, Abingdon Road
Extremely friendly local pub with great atmosphere, yet oddly situated a metric yonk away from the bridge from which it takes its name. Several Wadworth ales and a guest or two, all top notch. Smallish serving area plastered with pump clips from previous guests - try to spot your favourite. Friday night seems to be either locals sing-along night, which was jolly enough, or live music (perfectly tolerable). Could be excellent for a lunchtime pint and the food has a good reputation. Old world feel without trying too hard. November 2001
Update: Larger than I remember it to be on the inside, the Folly Bridge Inn is instantly recognisable at a distance by night by the eerie green lights shone on to the trees in the front beer garden. The beer (Wadworth 6X and Henry's IPA, plus guests) remain good and moderately priced. Perfect for all occasions, with quiet nights, music nights live band nights and, I think, quiz nights. March 2004.
Update: This is the best pub in South Oxford by a mile. It's friendly, keeps excellent ale and has a fantastic (although rather lard-ridden!) menu. A true community pub, the quiz night and music events are always well attending. There's also plenty of outdoor space both at the front and the side. I'm putting this place up to the full five stars. October 2009.
The Fox, Henley Road, Sandford-on-Thames
CLOSED as of late 2008
A pleasant trek out beyond the ring-road south of Rose Hill and Littlemore leads one to the sleepy village of Sandford-on-Thames. The Fox is the first pub one reaches on the main road, on the left opposite the village hall. The pub is small and local, with a front bar with darts board and a tiny lounge area at the back. The decor is plain and looks like it's been this way for ever, and the bar has a stove-like fireplace. The Fox was in the Good Beer Guide for 15 years running under a previous landlady (who was born in the pub), and remains in said bible at this instant in time. Beer is Morrell's Oxford and Varsity, which initially would appear disappointing to have come this far out from the town, but the beer is tapped straight out the barrel round the back. The Varsity I had was sublime - almost a different beer to the average slosh found at NuMorrells establishments. 2 quid, as well. Well worth the boot leather coming this far. March 2002
Update: Unfortunately I gather that this place has become overtly Greene Kingified and is no longer the unspoiled little private pub it once was. I shall have a look next time I'm in the area. January 2007.
Update: Closed, like so many pubs that Greene King have arsed about with in recent years. I'm not sure whether this is another venue where the lease hasn't been taken up or whether it was deemed as just not viable. It's such a shame to see this happen to a place that had been such a constant feature in the Good Beer Guide. January 2009.
The Fox and Hounds, Weirs Lane
CLOSED as of October 2007
This place has been done up from a failing Beefeater into a lime and custard coloured Morrells house. Not too bad on the inside but guess what theme. Yep, yet another genuine olde ale house. Here this works quite well as there appears to have been a substantial amount of old wooden beams and partitions before it got redone. Quite confortable with little alcoves. The standard Morrells menu is in place, but these tables are just as good for eating or drinking - there is no restaurant feel. There were three draught pumps, but each of them had an Oxford Blue pump clip on. The Oxford was very cheap but bland as usual. The pub is lacking in character - just the same as all the other bog-standard Morrells pubs. If they are going to have an alehouse theme they should at least have a couple of decent beers on. August 2002
Update: Didn't hear anything beforehand but drove past it one morning wondering how the place keeps going and the next morning it is all boarded up. Or rather clad in steel panels. Wonder what's coming here next. October 2007.
Update: Nothind is coming soon, apparently. Bought by Tesco but they are in no rush and the locals understandibly are up in arms. January 2010.
The George Inn, Sandford Road, Littlemore
Large, multi-rrom Morrells pub which seems to have escaped the worst of NuMorrells' attention by being such a long way from the town centre. However, there is still some random tat about, but it adds to the atmosphere and isn't noticably the same mass-produced tat that you can see at every other Morrells pub in the universe. The pub is roughly "u"-shaped around a central bar. The public bar to the right has a pool table and Sky TV, and fairly plush for a bar, while to the left is a lounge and several small alcoves, all confortable and food-ish. This place feels a lot more genuine than most other pubs smartened up in this way, and is pushing for the title (not particularly hard earned!) of best pub in Littlemore. The Varsity was good and cheap, and they have a huge selection of crips and other bar snacks. Large beer garden with Aunt Sally, that delightful, somewhat sadistic, traditional Oxfordshire game. August 2002
Update: This pub has been taken over by Gales of Hampshire. This can only prove to be an improvement, with the introduction of the delicious HSB. I will investigate... February 2004.
Update: How wrong I was! The pub interior has now became quite tatty and the atmosphere is not very nice at all. The Gales' is ordinary at best and I don't care much for some of the customers. A shame, but a demotion is necessary. September 2005.
Update: However, I am told by Rob Church of Turf Tavern fame that the food is good, with large portions and reasonably priced. Might try it out...
The General Elliott, Manor Road, South Hinksey
CLOSED as of Christmas Eve 2008
Delightful, "real", down-to-earth village pub a small walk from Grandpont. The landlord and the regulars (who seem to be obsessed with fishing) were immediately friendly and the place felt welcoming. Fairly small inside with a dartboard, with a large beer garden outside. A Morrells pub, this place has escaped being NuMorrelled, probably because the big corporate guys forget about its existence. Only had Oxford Blue, which was good and very cheap. I went on a Sunday and they were doing huge, reasonably priced roasts. Don't know what the week menu is. Definitely worth visiting if you are in the exploring mood - it is a closer walk from the town centre than the Isis tavern is (but you can't punt to it). May 2002
Update: Now taken over and refurbished by New Wood Inns, the poeple who have dramatically improved the Gardeners Arms on Plantation Road. I shall have to see what it is like as it was still closed for the refurb when I last wanted to visit. June 2005.
Update: New Wood Inns have certainly done the job! The place has been re-organised with a central bar but now sells 4 rotating real ales, mostly rarities or locals, and there is a good range of bottled things are well. The menu is cheap and hearty and the beer garden delightful on a summer's day. Do come here - it's so near! July 2006.
Update: Beer quality remains amazing and this place was recently voted the Oxford CAMRA pub of the year, despite not featuring in the Good Beer Guide! A home from home and a lovely walk from the city. Interestingly, the last time I went, they had a pig on a spit outside, gently roasting. I wonder when it would have been served. A top pub - up to the full five stars. September 2008.
Update: It grieves me mightily to report the closure of one of my five star pubs. The General Elliot closed abruptly towards the end of the year with the manager giving away a lot of the interior contents. There are reports of the brewery charging somewhat excessive rent as the manager is reported as having said that he was "bled dry" by them. Whatever the internal politics, the Oxford area has lost a fine pub that seemed to be really coming into its own. January 2009.
Update: Well, rumours continue fly around concerning the events leading up to the closure of the Gen Elliot. It would seem that the landlord did not do much to ingratiate himself with the local residents and that the "Poor honest publican forced out by evil brewery" stories that were flying around at the time were not 100% accurate, but then who expected them to be? As I said before, there's clearly a huge amount of internal politics but this doesn't detract from the loss of an excellent real ale establishment. March 2009.
The Golden Ball, College Lane, Littlemore
An attractive, Cotswold-stone pub of indeterminable age in the centre of Littlemore. Inside, there is a bar to the left which was packed with hairy locals and a TV, and a lounge to the right with more confortable furniture and less hairy, infinitely more friendly locals (including the local dog-collared individual post-service) whom I ended up chatting with about the antiquity of Wytham of all things. This end of the pub was nice, and the bar staff were welcoming. The beer was Morrells Oxford only, which was better than I remembered, but not really worth the wear-and-tear on the legs of walking this far. Having said this, the atmosphere was great and relaxing, and I could easily have been tempted to stay here for another few to postpone the inevitable hike back to the town centre. March 2002
Update: Has been in the national press after a group of nuns at the college opposite complained about the plans for a late licence here. The Archbishop of Canterbury proptly got involved but he could not hold back the tide. He he! October 2005.
The Isis Farmhouse, river towpath
Formerly the Isis Tavern:
Probably the only Oxford pub that you have can't drive to, being situated at the side of the Isis towpath, between the Gut and Iffley lock. Quite a small place, with an oval bar that splits the place into two areas. About 11 tables in all. This place does feel old, with a bit of genuine atmosphere, but on top of this is some NuMorrells decoration gone mad, with boating things literally crowded into every single free space, dangling form the roof, hanging on the walls, etc. The food looks extremely expensive for very basic fare. The beer was Oxford Blue and Varsity (which was okay) and a third, empty pump. Presumably Graduate or one of the new seasonals. I expect it could be quite good in the summer for watching the start of Eights races from the reasonably sized beer garden, but then I expect it would get very packed for this reason. Alternatively, the best time to see this pub properly may be when I saw it - Sunday lunchtime in late winter / early spring. Bar billiards table and darts board. Looks like it shuts early in evenings (I wouldn't fancy stumbling about on the towpath in the dark!). February 2002
Update: The "beer garden" was far larger than I remembered it, comprising several different seating areas spread all the way round the outside of the pub. The Greene King takeover has resulted in a new white and green colour scheme outside, but inside all that changes is the beer: now GK Abbot, IPA and Ruddles County. The County was quite nice and not too badly priced. Al and I sat out in the huge garden next to the river and had some of the overpriced but fairly nice food, while avoiding some of the hundreds of dogs that customers seem to bring. A word about the food: get there early! We ordered ours just after 12.15 on a Sunday, planting our identification flag in the ground next to our table while the garden was quiet. Half an hour later the place was heaving and the wait for food (after we had had ours, thank god) was 2.5 hours. Shortly after that the kitchen took no new orders. This could go up to 4 stars after a further review. May 2004.
Update: A change of management to a total free house, now run by a psychiatrist who was a Queen's College rowing coach. The inside of the pub is very much a work in progress, with barely stripped walls, ragged carpets, incongruous outdoor furniture inside and an appropriate amount of rowing-related NuMorrells tat remaining alongside the semi-mounted / semi-shoved in corners Queen's rowing blades. Although initially disconcerting, the spartan "haven't got round to it yet" insides make the place, I feel, rather like drinking at a housewarming party and is actually a nice change compared to the over-decorated city centre pubs that pub companies spend fortunes on trying to make them look as old as they actually are. The beers and ciders are all locally sourced and are very reasonably priced, considering the location and that the pub is a free house. The draught beer, served on gravity from casks on the bar, is usually Applefords and, unfortunately, not particularly wonderful. There's a
good range of bottle Hook Norton beers and local ciders. The home cooked food looks great but those unaccustomed to proper home-cooked pub food from a small kitchen would find the menu somewhat small. The custom is a mix of ramblers, students and, unfortunately, on warmer days, Daily Mail readers who think that because they have a family and a mortgage have the right to skip the queue and be generally rude to all and sundry. Anyway, inside or out, a relaxing beer is to be found here, although the beer quality only warrants three stars. September 2010.
The Jolly Postboys, Florence Park Road
CLOSED as of 2012
This is a big, very towny Morrells pub. From both the outside and the inside it looks the same as just about every other Morrells pub in existence with the typical peach, terracota and custard. The inside is one large area horseshoed around a central bar, with a pool table, dartboard, and other the other side a small number of more comfortable tables where I presume the Morrells menu is in operation. Clientele entirely local types - not the place for an undergrad to go in full college regalia. On a Saturday, at around football results time, the place was packed with most people glued to the TV or their mobiles. Three draught pumps, but only a very thin, bland Oxford Blue on. Not particularly splendid, but okay if you've been wandering in Florence Park on one of the two or three hot days of an English summer and fancy something to parch your thirst. August 2002
Update: The Greene King refurbishment has brightened this place up somewhat and it look a lot less tatty. The community feel is still very much evident with the pool table a dartboard to the right hand side. Early on a Sunday afternoon it was dead although the few customers present were enjoying what looked like pretty good roast dinners. The few Greene King beers were better than the tired old Morrells here before, but still not exciting, although the place it quite cheap. It is clear that the current managers really do care about the pub but it remains essentially a surburban general boozer. May 2009.
Update: Yet another Greene King house without a manager / tenant. Please do let me know if anyone spots this place open again. November 2012.
The Kings Arms, Church Road, Sandford-on-Thames
Huge pub cunningly positioned at Sandford lock. Think the Trout in Wolvercote, only bigger. The whole pub is basically given over to food. All the tables are numbered for food, and the serving area for the food is about twice that of the the area serving drinks. Confortable and fairly good atmosphere for a pub this size, but you still can't escape the fact that it is a tourist / students' parents trap with the alcohol forming a very small fraction of the total income. Ale comprises solely Courage Best, which was OK but not worth the trip. You come here for the riverside view - the place has a large beer garden just next to the lock and even a play area for children, of which there are millions (Noise Level = High). In the summer evenings this place might be wonderful. May 2002
Update: I took some work colleagues here after our yearly friendly interview with the Gestapo. It was a rainy July lunchtime, so the place was pretty empty, but the coverered patio was great. Beer was Adnams Broadside and Landlord, both good. The inside was nicer, larger, and with more little alcoves than I remembered. The fact is that this is a very nice place for a few pints in lovely surroundings and is not as expensive, impersonal or packed as the Trout, for example. However, I don't feel I can put it up to 4 stars. July 2008.
King of Prussia, Rose Hill
CLOSED FROM SPRING 2005
Not exactly NuMorrelled, just a perfectly ordinary town pub, as you might expect at such a distance from the dreaming spires. Large, open plan "eating shop" with a big bar and stools being the only concession to the drinker. Looks like the kind of place to run popular pub quizzes but I've no idea if it does. Varsity was cheap but bland. I took up a couple of pints of fluid and headed back down the hill. Ho hum. May 2001.
The NuMorrells people have now been at this place, with, I must admit, a high degree of success (except the peach and terracota exterior). I approve of the fact that they have added lots of walls to create different rooms, making the place feel like less of a restaurant. The random tat level is high with all the standard features (now has the nautical tat also seen in the Isis Tavern and Royal Standard) but one can ignore it. I am very surprised to say that the refit has improved the atmosphere of the pub and the beer has improved and is still cheap. One star added! June 2002
Update: I hear rumours from several channels that this place no longer has real beer. If so, then a rapid reduction to one star would seem likely. Will investigate... June 2003.
Update: The lack of real beer was confirmed shortly before this place rang its time bell for the final time. No great loss. June 2005.
Update: The empty building has just recently been torched. Somebody obviously took my one star rating too literally! July 2006.
The Marlborough House, Marlborough Road
This is a small, intimate and cosy pub in the heart of Grandpont. It consists of three small rooms downstairs and, I am led to believe, a pool room upstairs. Friendly, and ticking over, even on a friday night. The standard customers are all locals who know all the local gossip on each other, and are welcoming rather than closed up to visitors. A fine selection of classic tunes is on the ancient jukebox, which seems to be very cheap. Genuine old photos, signs, and collectables here, none of the olde tat seen at most other pubs in the area, which lends to a delightful atmosphere rather than trying to inforce it. The beer was Courage Directors, Bateman's XB and Greene King IPA. The Courage was moreish, but a little over the odds for the pubs around here. This place deserves its regular place in the Good Beer Guide. March 2002
Update: The longstanding management has gone, the beer quality has slipped, the old jukebox has been removed and a big screen TV projecter introduced. I visited here two nights in a row: the first was football night and I couldn't get through the door, let alone get to the bar. The next night I was sitting there on my own, watching the clock tick by. What a shame. June 2005.
Update: I suppose it was inevitable. Any not-so-wonderful pub in prime Oxford locations these days seems to be run into the ground and then flogged off for turning into flats. Many thanks to Pete at the Turf and Clive via email for keeping me up to speed on the closure. February 2008.
The Nuffield Arms, Littlemore Road
Medium sized town pub on a street corner with a carpark about three times bigger than the pub itself. Inside there were four regulars and no-one else, and the place is fairly dingy. A little bit of atmosphere and a pool table, with two weak beers: Adnams Bitter and Greene king IPA. The Adnams was cheap and good for what it was, but nothing exceptional. The walls were a dirty powder-blue, a surprisingly modern TV was showing World Championship canoeing to no-one in particular, and the few tables and chairs were fairly comfy (all the regulars were on bar stools). I imagine the place gets a bit busier at night (I was there at lunchtime) with the local residents, but I can't imagine it being great even then. Nothing special, but no real low points either, so probably not worth bothering with in the future. August 2002
The Prince of Wales, Church Way
The first impression on entering this pub, after strolling through the delightful Iffley village, is that this is a no-nonsense, good honest "real" pub - something that is becoming rarer and rarer in Oxford. The people working here are not lazy students moaning about life but real people running a business. The bloke in charge looks an ex-Navy type. The food is relatively cheap and comes in huge portions. The pub is a Wadworth house (6X and Henry's IPA) plus one or two guests (Tanglefoot when I visited), and the beer I had was excellent. Plenty of tables and barstools, and pork scratchings! The fireplace looks like it might be used in winter, but wasn't active when I went. This place is certainly worth visiting - it isn't so far away! February 2002
Update: On revisiting, this pub, despite the range of beers, is certainly not as good as I remember. I certainly don't remember the terracota walls and dribbly candles. It's all gone a bit feminine, in my opinion. May 2003.
Update: Taken over by Peter Coupland of former Bookbinders fame, a magnificent improvement has been seen, except for the terracota walls! I'm told this is a work in progress! The place has been re-established as an excellent local community pub with a friendly and welcoming outlook, up to 6 real beers and the atmosphere of both knowing and loving how to run a pub. The beer, Wadworth plus guests, is reasonably priced and the 6X like how it used to be about ten years ago, not the mediocre rubbish that only seems to reach Oxford these days. Service with a smile and a joke, real pork scratchings and a decent menu. I'm told that that the Aunt Sally team is active and that there is both a quiz night and a number of darts teams. Definitely the pub to visit in this part of Oxford. March 2009.
The Priory and ...?..., Priory Lane, Littlemore
Before you ask, YES! This pub really is called the Priory and ...?... as recorded on its sign. The reason for this will remain a perptuating enigma - the landlady-type figure who served us didn't know and afterall, "The pub has been here quite some time", as she so rightly points out. The buidling stands on the site of the priory which used to be here, and itself looks ancient. Inside is quite an open-plan, country pub with a real fire, and walls partitioning off the darts and pool areas. Fantastic atmosphere, and that was without any other customers in. The place really does feel full of history. The only cask, Tetley's, died as it was being pulled for me, so I had a Guinness (very good) with Roo. The ?landlady gave me the three-quarters of a pint of the Tetley's and told me I was welcome to it if it settled OK, which it did. This pub was until recently buried out on the verge of the countryside on its own, but now has the new United ground sitting menacingly nearby, so it may not be quite the country pub idyll on a Saturday after a home game. April 2002.
The Tree Hotel, Church Way, Iffley
Nice looking hotel at the front, pub at the back; a welcome resting place in tranquil Iffley village. The pub, with a largish beer garden, serves Morrells beers, and thus the Tree has taken a slight leaf (groan!) out of the NuMorrells Book of Pub Assimilation. Not too much, however. The place manages to retain a fairly independent character with not too much random tat. Varsity was good (for Morrells, or should that be Thomas Hardy's?) and not too expensive. Mostly old crowd when I went, and I suspect that the bulk of the custom will be supplies by middle-aged hotel residents or tourists trying some of the tempting meals that sound splendid but have a price ticket to match. Compared to the standard NuMorrells menu, however, they are probably good value. July 2002