Chequers Inn Rowhook
The Chequers Inn Rowhook, just off the A29 south of Ockley, has some fabulous history and some great food. Even, allegedly, a couple of ghosts knocking about the place? The Chequers Inn Rowhook is a quiet out of the way rural pub with a reputation for great food! It’s a fab addition to my Historic Pubs of Sussex list.
As usual on these reviews, we were not paid to do it, we paid for our own food and drink out of our own pockets and the staff had no idea we were reviewing! Therefore, I feel our review is exactly as you would experience when visiting the pub.
What’s in a name?
The origin of the name Chequers has a few possibilities. A possible connection between the rare Chequers or Wild Serbis tree, a native forest tree bearing edible berries from which a drink can be brewed. Some believe the Wild Serbis tree has something to do with it because its bark resembles a Chequer Board. Allegedly, The Egyptians used the Chequerboard sign – the sign of Osiris, one of their many gods, to denote a Bar/Pub/Tavern. Then, taken up by the Romans, a Chequered sign was displayed outside the bar, even if the pub was called The Happy Weasel!
And speaking of weasels, this pub couldn’t be more charming if it was a weasel wearing a smoking jacket and a cravat with a cigarette holder saying ‘How do you do?’ in a Noel Coward voice. It just oozes age and character from every beam!
This was taken from Wikipedia Pub Names
‘Checkers or Chequers: often derived from the coat of arms of a local landowner, Chequy, this name and sign originated in ancient Rome when a chequerboard indicated that a bar also provided banking services. The checked board was used as an aid to counting and is the origin of the word exchequer. The last pub to use the older, now American spelling of checker was in Baldock, Hertfordshire, but this closed circa 1990; all pubs now use the modern “q” spelling’
Food at the Chequers Inn Rowhook
To be sure, the Chequers Inn Rowhook is not the cheapest place to go. As an example, Tam, my long-suffering ‘other half’, went for their burger, which was £10.95 with an additional £1.50 for cheese and £3.50 for chips. The burger came with a salad. With chips on the side at £3.50, Tam expected chunky or triple cooked chips over these, which were fries with the skin on. Now, this isn’t a complaint, it’s just something to be aware of. Because Tam reckoned that this was one of the best burgers she had tasted in a long while!
Happy it’s the latter
Now, it’s my opinion that tomato in anything is either there for two reasons. It’s to bulk it out and flavour something that doesn’t have much flavour or, and I believe this was the case here at the Chequers Inn Rowhook, that the chef thought it would add a twist to the gravy.
Once we had established there was tomato in it, the waitress and the kitchen staff happily supplied the sausage and mash without the gravy and even did a side of the caramelised onions for me. You can’t help some small problems, but the way the pub deals with them is often very telling. And, the Chequers Inn Rowhook was absolutely brilliant in the way they handled everything. I doff my hat to them! 🎩 As long-time readers will know, this year I am eating sausage and mash at all the pubs I review to compare equally between them.
Also, the homemade sausages were amazing!
And, they were homemade! I wanted to buy some to take home!
Inside the Chequers Rowhook
Above, you can see the layout table by the window. This is not layout in the sense of laying out knives and forks, this is in the sense of laying out the dead! In the old days, the building had a number of uses from a bakery, town hall and butchery. And that butchery is in the sense of food. Not the fact that they were butchering dead people here! This was also a mortuary, hence why layout means laying out the dead. but let me stress that was in the past!
Happily, there were no corpses on our table while we were eating our lunch! I don’t know about you but I find it very inconvenient to have to lean over dead bodies to get the salt and pepper!
This is what I look for in historic pubs in Sussex, these fabulous little nuggets of information that bring the pub to life!
The building itself dates back to the 15th century and in the 16th century, it was registered as a blacksmiths shop, gardens and orchards. During the 19th century, the building had a dual role as a baker’s shop in a pub. In the 20th century, a village hall was built onto the side of the pub because let’s face it, the pub is the heart of the community!
Today however the village hall is used as a bright contemporary restaurant for the pub adding the contrast from the beamed rooms of the old building. The cabinet, that can be seen below is apparently made from the wood of the Chequers Tree.
Outside is a courtyard eating area was done in a contemporary style with some tables in the sunshine and others under shaded umbrellas. We started off in the sunshine but soon went under one of the umbrellas as it was a scorching day.
Additionally, past the courtyard garden to the back is a massive beer garden. With picnic tables, a barbecue and a fenced-off garden where the pub grow some of its own produce. I could see a huge sage plant among others I couldn’t identify.
Would you like fresh ingredients? Yeah, the Chequers Inn Rowhook has got that covered!
Where – Chequers Inn Rowhook
The Chequers Inn Rowhook is situated just off the A29, south of Ockley and to the east of Rudgwick. Also, it’s extremely close to the Sussex – Surrey border. Click on the map below Google maps directions
All prices correct as of June 2019
To reiterate, I don’t do paid reviews and I only include pubs that have something notable about them. However, If you know a pub that you think would make a good addition to this list, for historical or quirky reasons, leave a comment below in the ‘Post a Comment‘ section right at the bottom of the page. If it looks interesting, I will do one of my stealth visits and the review will be posted here. Not every pub makes the cut – perhaps three quarters do for various reasons. And the various reasons for a pub not making the cut are; bad service, bad food, bad experience and just plain boring..!
For the rest of my Historic Pubs of Sussex list, see below
All prices correct at time of writing.
If you are looking for Historic Pubs in Surrey, click here.
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