© Copyright Hugh Mortimer and licensed for
In days of old there could be found many hundreds of institutions known as ‘alehouses’ scattered across the nation, which were essentially domestic dwellings that brewed and served ale. In time, of course, there developed the traditional ‘pub’ as we know it – commercial institutions specialising in the boozing business – and the basic alehouses fell from use.
Most alehouses didn’t really have proper serving bars; folk just turned up and bought their beer from the house owner/tenant. Across the UK today there are less than ten such survivals from the distant past – and one of them is the Milbank Arms, Barningham, on the Co.Durham side of its border with North Yorkshire.
It looks like a regular public house from the outside, but on entering you are faced with little in the way of pub-like options. The landlord will be there waiting for you at the top of the cellar steps, and he will fulfil your request by scampering down to, and up from, the cellar. And if you’re interested, there are plenty of fancy cocktails to choose from, too (their speciality, in fact), and the cellar stairs are adorned with thousands of miniature bottles.
There is a small tap room for visitors to down their drinks, actually, as well as a seldom used ‘domino room’. It is on the Campaign for Real Ale’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors – and quite right, too.