UK’s Most Unusual Pubs
Ah, the humble British boozer. With its stale beer scent and quiet murmurings of gibberish, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be. But with pubs up and down the country closing by the minute, it’s more important than ever for watering holes to stand out from the crowd. And that description can most certainly be used for these haunts – the UK’s most unusual pubs.
The Crooked House, Dudley
Just one look at The Crooked House and you’ll know why it’s unusual. Originally called the Sidden Arms, substantial local coal mining caused this beloved Dudley landmark the most lopsided pub in Britain. One side of the pub has been on the slant by about 1.2 meters since around 1800. It quickly became a tourist attraction and was even featured on postcards as early as 1830. Towards the end of WWII, the house was condemned as unsafe but thankfully the building has been stabilised and now thrives as a local. The floors have been levelled but the walls, frames, and windows have been left at odd angles, and there are still counter tops and tables where you need to be careful of gravity-induced spillage!
Canny Mans, Edinburgh
‘No credit cards, no mobile phones, no cameras and no backpackers’, is just one of the many signs decorating Edinburgh boozer, Canny Mans. As its tongue-in-cheek signage suggests, not much about this Scottish mainstay is normal with random, usually Victorian, objects crammed in as far as the eye can see. Food orders are written on betting slips and decorations at Christmas are absolutely forbidden. It might not be top of your list if you like your customer service with a large grin and plenty of ‘yes, Sirs.’ But as another one of Canny Mans’ famed signs says, ‘This is not a Burger King. You’ll have it as we like it.’ And we like Canny Mans just fine, thanks.
The Nutshell, Bury St Edmunds
Suffolk’s The Nutshell pub proudly titles itself as the ‘UK’s smallest pub’. And when the say ‘small’, they really mean no bigger than your average bathroom. But despite its modest size, you’d be surprised at just how much there is inside the bar. From a mummified cat (yes, really) and currency notes on the ceiling to historical photos, military items and an aeroplane propeller on the walls, there is much to view and talk about while you enjoy a pint. The mummified cat is hanging from the ceiling, so watch it doesn’t get in your drink!
Mr Fogg’s, London
For some true London eccentricity, look no further than Soho’s Mr Fogg’s. Really three spaces in one, Fogg’s is a less-than-traditional London tavern, a gin parlour and home of Victorian explorer, Phileas J Fogg. The Tavern itself serves up real ales, ‘mother’s ruin’ gin cocktails and grog in traditional tankards and pewter cups. Downstairs of the wood-panelled, old-style tavern, they also serve up a food menu offering ‘honest fare’, which includes pies, mash, sausages… you know the sort. Next door to the Tavern, you’ll find the Gin Parlour, which comes with a chaise-longue or three, velvet curtains and a plethora of trinkets.
The Marsden Grotto, South Shields
The Marsden Grotto pub in South Shields is one of the very few ‘cave bars’ in Europe. Reputed to be the only one in the UK, the Marsden Grotto has a long and illustrious history. In 1782, Jack Bates (aka Jack the Blaster) and his wife Jessie used dynamite from a local quarry to blast a large cave into the side of this coastal cliff. Local legend has it that the cave was then used by Jack and some smugglers for storing their illicit goods. When the cave was granted a license to sell beer, 18 of these smuggler’s skeletons were discovered. Nowadays, the inn faces towards the North Sea and brands itself as a ‘beach bar and seafood restaurant’.
The Highwayman Inn, Okehampton
Often quoted as being the most unusual pub in Britain, The Highwayman Inn is as unassuming as quirkiness gets. Situated in the tranquil surroundings of Dartmoor National Park, this 11th-century inn is far from your cosy local village pub. Instead, the Highwayman is an Aladdin’s cave of eclectic and eccentric artefacts and curios, which features an interesting and celebrated clientele, including a resident ghost.