The Crown Inn Chiddingfold
It is said The Crown Inn Chiddingfold is, certainly, one of the oldest pubs in England. It is said it was originally built as a Rest House for monks on the pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury. Allegedly established in 1285, records, of course, are a bit sketchy at this time, so no one knows when it was actually built. The earliest mention of the building, however, is from around 1383.
In its long history, The Crown has been a watering hole for locals and, surprisingly, royals alike. In 1552 Edward VI visited, and in fact, did his elder sister, Queen Elizabeth I in 1591. The Crown Inn Chiddingfold is, to be sure, one of the best old Surrey pubs I think.
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.
The sense of history greets you as soon as you step through the door! In the entrance hall, you can see a beautifully decorated 1760 sedan chair. Being one of only two in England, it is to be sure, unusual. For more information on Sedan chairs, particularly what they were used for and how, see here. Also, if you want to see another period Sedan Chair in Sussex, one can be seen in the Arundel Museum.
From the Sedan chair, head right. This takes you to the bar and restaurant area where more history awaits!
The wonderful oak-panelled restaurant, in fact, increases the sense of history. In particular, the huge oak beams you see are said to be reclaimed from old sailing ships. A 1614 stone fireplace provides a nice glow in the winter, certainly, I can imagine a haunch of venison has been cooked on this fire many a time. Vintage style chairs beneath the stained glass windows complete the amazing interior.
The stained glass was, surprisingly, a local speciality. That is to say, Chiddingfold was the centre for medieval glass making in Elizabethan times. It is hard to imagine now, that once, this sleepy little village was a hive of activity!
Once seated we were presented with a Sunday menu, in this case. Because, indeed, it was Sunday when we visited! I would say, however, booking is essential here as it does get busy at times. I suspect we were lucky as it was towards the end of lunchtime and, consequently, quieter.
With mains up to £17, for example, this is an upper medium priced place. Menus and prices change all the time, of course, so please see the link at the bottom of the screen to the Crowns website. We visited in November 2017.
The service was, unfortunately, a bit hit and miss. To explain, the chap who seated us was a little slow but the waiter who brought out our food and wine was quick and efficient.
We also noticed that tables were not cleared that quickly and when we went and had a look at the lower bar there were still tables that had not been cleared even though it was empty. I suspect, however, this was just a one-off as on other visits we have had no such problems.
The lower bar, known as the half-crown according to the sign on the wall outside it, was pleasant and informal. For those who were born less than 40 years ago or not from the UK, a crown and a half-crown were legal tender coins. The pun doesn’t work quite so well when you have to explain it…
Happily, in this case, there was no piped-in pop music when we visited to detract from the history of the place. And while the lower bar had a more modern feel, it still managed to blend well with the Crowns sense of history.
The Crown Inn Chiddingfold
For me, the Crown Inn Chiddingfold is, undoubtedly, one of the best pubs in Surrey. For a dining experience with an ever-present sense of history, this old Surrey pub was hard to beat.
More in my Historic Pubs in Surrey series
If you are looking for some Sussex pubs, click the link if you are looking for some Historic Pubs of Sussex
The Crown Inn,
01428 682 255
Mondays – Thursdays
Fridays and Saturdays
Click on the map for directions to The Crown Inn Chiddingfold
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