Monday, April 15, 2024

The Two Julians

We straddle the Waveney so you don't have to.

The Two Julians
AylshamTwo Julians

Aylsham Pub Day – The Feathers


The Feathers was the first in our visit to all of the pubs in Aylsham and it has been operating since the early 1840s. I’m going to guess that it’s likely 1841, when Albert became the first Prince of Wales since the 1760s, as the Feathers name is frequently associated with the Prince of Wales so that fits time wise. But that’s just my guess, it could be complete nonsense as many of my theories are.

Looking at old newspapers, I note that in August 1876 it was noted in the Lowestoft Journal, that bastion of journalism, that Stephen Underwood was given a spirits licence for the Feather. At the same petty sessions, John Rounce appears in court to fund his “bastard child”, the local butcher was fined as his mare had run riot in the town, a brickmaker was drunk in Hevingham and a hawker got drunk at the Stonemason’s Arms in Aylsham and refused to leave. It sounds a fun week in Aylsham.

As was common at the time, inquests into deaths took place in pubs and the Feathers was no exception. This happened in March 1899 when an inquest into the death of Benjamin Watson was held here and it found that he hanged himself near to the Feathers after a period of illness and unemployment. I mention this as it’s easy to forget just how much history there is with these pubs and how important they are to the local community, as well as being a reminder of how tough people had it at the end of the nineteenth century with limited help available to those in pain and out of work.


Back to the present, there were two real ales available, the Ghost Ship from Adnams and the 6X Original Ale from Wadworth. This seemed a reasonable couple of options, they’re not seen everywhere and it’s positive to have a choice.


Starting off with the 6X, it was well kept and at the appropriate temperature.


Julian, who treats these study tours with professionalism and thoroughness that continues to inspire me, recommended that I try the Ghost Ship from Adnams. This seemed a little lively and was probably from a fresh barrel, but it tasted clean and was in good condition.


They’ve got a little games room to the side and I did think they could fit a nice little bar billiards table in here.


Despite what I consider my relative youth, Julian and I thought we might sign up. The whole concept of “never happy unless complaining” is an admirable and laudable aim.


Some of the rather beautiful interior decoration, although this stopped being a Bullards pub in the 1970s, then becoming Intrepreneur, Phoenix and Criterian Inns in relative quick succession following the Beer Orders in the late 1980s. That was venture capital hit pubs in a big way, something which has ultimately been rather sub-optimal in very many ways.

Anyway, back to the pub itself, and there were a couple of locals at the bar when we entered. The relationship between the customers and the staff member at the bar here was just as a pub should be, always respectful but with a healthy dose of opprobrium as well from behind the bar. This pub seems to me like one where someone new to the area would feel welcome, my standard measure of the quality of the engagement being offered. The environment was inviting and friendly, with the pub being clean and well looked after, it felt like a safe place to be.

Pubs like this must be tough to operate at the moment with the costs of operating a venue spiralling in seemingly all areas. The pub seems to be shrinking its opening times down a little, which might be a result of customers cutting costs, but the main thing is that the pub is still there being an important part of the local community. We didn’t investigate the beer garden, but it’s apparently of a generous size, so there’s no doubt opportunity for plenty of summer drinking to be had. This felt like a proper pub to me, I liked it.