Lickfold Inn, Surrey

Forgive the personal indulgence but this weblog is, in many ways, a record of my life, albeit told in the hazy after-mists of empty wine bottles.  For a small portion of it, as a toddler in the 1960’s, I lived in a Surrey pub run by my grand-parents, Marjorie and Douglas.  In those dim and distant days that I barely remember, it was called The Three Horseshoes – a fine pub name.

In more recent years it has passed through the hands of various do-wells including rock band managers and most latterly the self-proclaimed national alarm clock for the UK – fellow Mancunian* and Radio 2 DJ, Chris Evans.

Since my mum’s grave is just down the road in trendy (well in 1460 it was trendy) Lodsworth, where she is one of the most lively residents, I like to visit the Lickfold Inn occasionally, to keep an eye on the ghosts…and the food….and the wines….and the spirits.

I last dined here in February 2010 (with some living relatives) for a Saturday evening meal.  The atmosphere is still amazing.  Exactly what you should expect from a 15th century country inn.  Elizabethan oak beams, herringbone patterned bricks, the tantalizing smell of hops and meat and countryside and floods.  The bar staff can’t make a Bloody Mary, though.  Suspect my grandfather was turning in his grave at the thought of me ordering something so poncey.  Maybe his ghost inspired the waitress to reach for the gin.

The dining room, that in the 1960s was mostly private quarters, is cosy yet spacious, comfortable and twee, aged yet with modern comforts.  It is one of those rooms where you never feel overlooked by the other diners despite tripping over them on the way in.  I did feel overlooked by my grandmother who used to serve steak and chips with a cheeseboard for 15 shillings, but only to those who had booked one of her 17 covers in advance, so she could pre-order the meat from a local butcher.  Those were the days.  She survived to the ripe old age of 100, disparagingly surveying the years of American inspired commercialisation, freezers, and customer focus groups.

The wine list is concise but varied enough with examples from different regions and grapes and all firmly in the affordable range.  The cheap Malbec was out of stock so we took the Californian Merlot.  I found this at £7.95 at Templar Wines so at £22 this implies a markup against retail of less than 200% which is not bad.  However, it was served way too warm.  Come on Chris, I thought you liked your wines.  Why not join my WART campaign?

The Blackstone was drinkable but nothing to write home about.  If I had spotted the Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Reserva 2001 at £28 I would have selected that – great quality and great value (if served at the right temperature).

The food was simple but tasty and with none of the nonsense served at some gastro pubs.  My pork chops would have fed the entire village, and the closest thing to nonsense was a pea purée that tasted suspiciously like mushy peas, and all the better for that.

At £160 for 4 people including alcohol and service, this is pretty good value.  I hope the pub can make enough money to fulfil its promise of donating half its profits to local children’s charities.

One vivid memory from the 1960s is that the pub used to flood regularly.  Whilst there have been some drain and building improvements in the last 40 years, you can see from the photo below, taken in March 2010 that the water feature is still a very present danger.

The Three Horse Shoes in the 60s

The back of the pub has also changed a bit…

I’ll leave you with a final indulgence, a sketch of the pub by my late father, Ian, and a recommendation that you visit, not just for a drink or a meal, but also for the architecture and atmosphere which are almost unbeatable, whether you believe in ghosts or not.

Lickfold Inn
GU28 9EY
T: +44 (0) 1798 861285

* I believe that Chris Evans was born in Warrington but I am sure he has the good sense to consider himself a Mancunian.

17 Responses to “Lickfold Inn, Surrey”

  1. Robert McIntosh (@thirstforwine) Says:

    I’ve actually been down there, to see the place just before it re-opened under th current management, and I know the manager. I’ve been meaning to check out the MASSIVE fireplaces at some stage.

    What a great tip down memory lane, and (another) amazing coincidence

    Agree that they should join the WART campaign though

  2. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Yes, you could hold a badminton tournament in the fireplace in the bar. I think it is even bigger now than it was in the 1960s.

  3. Gordon Lickfold Says:

    I love your old photos of the “Three Horseshoes”. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m quite interested in the pub’s history (and the hamlet of Lickfold as my research suggests every male alive today with the name derives from the Lickfold / Lurgashall area circa 1300), soI’d be interested to know your grandparent’s surname.

    I didn’t discover the Lickfold Inn until a teenager in the 1960s. Someone did a very thorough restoration of the beautiful herringbone brickwork (I think it was in the 70s), but I was told they had a cash flow crisis – the work probably cost them too much – and went bust.

    Incidentally, Lickfold is in Sussex. The PO, in their wisdom, have it under Guildford – hence the GU postcode, and yes, Guildford is in Surrey. Crazy!

  4. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Hi Gordon, it was Marjorie and Douglas Bathgate. I believe that the restoration was in the early 1970’s (1972?) and yes, I also heard that financial problems beset the owners at the time. Mind you, I think the vast majority of owners through recent history have struggled to make it pay. Let’s hope Chris Evans has more luck and I wish him well. The building is worth saving. Stunning place.

  5. Jane Morgan Says:

    Hi Gordon.
    I too was interested in your memories. I’m on the family history research and the family running the pub in 1911 were cousins – the Gilberts. I’m not sure whether they are yours too or whether your family took over from them. Lovely photos 🙂

  6. Cat Says:

    Hello Gordon, the pub has shut. 🙁 I don’t know why.

  7. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    Very sad news. The Evans Pubs website has announced closure from 25 August 2010. 🙁

  8. Teresa Graham Says:

    Does the Lickfold Inn still flood or have they solved the problem?

  9. Alastair Bathgate Says:

    I think they solved all but the worst floods. The area was very wet last time I was there but no sign of water in the pub.

    I would be interested to know if anyone has taken on the challenge of reopening the pub.

  10. Robin Walker Says:

    When the pub first re-opened under Mr Evan’s ownership, he employed a chef and manager from a famous 3 michelin star establishment. Unfortunately they soon left the establishment due to “differences” and went on to open and run a pub in Wiltshire which earned the Publican Magazine Awards “Food Pub of the Year” 2010. I think the Lickfold may have done better had they stayed!

  11. Sarah Williams Says:

    This looks like such a great pub. Do you think it can be resurrected? Do the locals still want it to work or has it passed it’s sell by date. It seems to have so much potential. I’d be interested to know people’s thoughts.

  12. Maria Dimond Says:

    I have lived in Lickfold for 23 years and until Chris Evans took over “The LicKfold” it had always done well. All the pubs in the area that have owner/managers do very well. Unfortunately Mr Evans lost interest in this business and having been to the Mulberry a couple of months ago it seems that this may well go the same way!!
    The village of lickfold needs its pub back ,it was the only thing we had. There would be local support if someone took this on. Having listened to Mr Evans and his ability to make things happen I’m sure that he could come up with something to make the lickfold work… At this present time it is a cold damp sad building that should be warm and loved..

  13. Sheree Lickfold-Janke Says:

    Hi Maria,
    I visited the Lickfold Inn two years ago, had a lovely meal and day there. It is a real shame that so soon after Mr Evans purchased it, that it closed down. The local area needs that pub back—it’s dreadful it is closed. I travelled from Canada to see it, and to go back to my ancestry roots in Lurgashall, Lickfold and Sussex.

  14. pete Says:

    hi Sarah driving past the Lickfold Inn today it was surrounded by police and there was a low flying helicoptor hovering over head. sadly I think the squaters are armed these days so may have been a shoot out or a drugs bust?
    the days of Chris Evens are well and truely over and maybe too the days are numbered for the once loved Lickfold Inn

  15. Sharon Warner Says:

    The Lickfold Inn has now been boarded up with shuttering ply and iron gates all around it complete mess.
    There is a meeting to disguss what is happening to the building on 5th February 2013 at 7pm in the Noah’s Ark in Lurgashall.
    We really need to get our pub back. So please come along if you know any information regarding the pub.

  16. Lynne Todd Says:

    Please register your feelings about the The Lickfold Inn on our webpage.

  17. Sheree Lickfold-Janke Says:

    Hi Lynne,

    Just wondering what got decided at the February 2013 meeting about the Lickfold Inn….??? Is it going to be opened again….??

    Sheree Lickfold

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