If school history lessons had been anything like my visit to the Well House Inn then I would have bucked my ideas up, paid attention and, no doubt, passed my exams.
History oozes from its dark wooden beams and those lucky enough to stumble across it are sure to be captivated by it’s charm.
I was never captivated by history at school.
Instead, I just stared out of the classroom window and day dreamed of drinking cider in the park with my mates while my history master, Mr Cripps, droned on and on about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
It didn’t help that Mr Cripps was like a living relic himself. His grey hair and big bushy eyebrows perfectly complimented by his grey skin.
If only he had organised a field trip to some of the areas historic inns, I might have been inspired to embrace the subject at an earlier age.
There’s so much a kid could learn about their immediate area from its ale houses, plus it would be a gentle introduction to pub life – everyone’s a winner.
Anyway, you there, PAY ATTENTION!
The Well House Inn is a small country pub in Surrey less than ten miles from the mean streets of south London.
The pub takes its name from St Margaret’s Well which can be found in its enchanting beer garden.
The well was called Mag’s Well, hence the name of the village we know today as Mugswell.
I must confess, I thought it might have earned its name from a group of medieval ne’er-do-wells adept at picking the pockets of hook-nosed old ladies, but I’m wrong.
Apparently, the well even gets a mention in the Domesday Book. If true, it’s a fact sure to have history buffs the world over drooling into their bushy grey beards.
The Well House is a delightful drinking den, located directly opposite some fields in which cows graze and ramblers roam.
If you didn’t know any better you’d think you were boozing in the Cotswolds instead of being just a short drive from the concrete clutches of Croydon.
This 16th century boozer has everything you’d expect from a historic building such as horse brass, toby jugs, pipes in a glass case, a big fireplace, pictures of bygone times and old wooden beams on which tankards hang.
There’s also framed paperwork relating to the purchase and usage of the building and land surrounding it which dates back to the mid-18th century.
Yes, it’s all very oldy worldy. There’s even a ghost, called Harry the Monk.
I bought a pint of the fruity and hoppy Shere Drop (4.2%) the flagship beer from Dorking-based Surrey Hills Brewery, took a seat by the fireplace and kept an eye out for Harry.
It was perfect. I just sat and supped in silence while making a conscious effort to enjoy the moment. The Well House is a great place for a quiet, contemplative pint.
Unfortunately for me, a family arrived for a spot of Sunday lunch with a hyperactive kid who kept scraping his chair on the conservatory floor and spoilt my fun.
There’s only so much scraping I can take, so I supped up and left while making a promise to myself to return soon, perhaps when the kids are at school, day dreaming during another tedious history lesson.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY
ADDRESS: Chipstead Lane, Mugswell, Surrey CR5 3SQ. 01737 830640 www.wellhouseinn.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: **** The pub was buzzing when I popped in, and I mean that quite literally. There was a bees nest, on the outside, just above one of the windows. Well, some bees like beer I guess, who can blame them?
DECOR: **** Traditional. Definitely one for the pub purist.
SERVICE: *** Nice bunch of lads and lasses. Very friendly and polite.
SELECTION: **** Good choice of real ales featuring Shere Drop from Surrey Hills Brewery, Fuller’s London Pride, Welton’s Sun Stroke and Hepworth’s Conqueror.
PRICE: *** £3.40 for a pint of Shere Drop isn’t bad, although I bet Harry the Monk had a fit when I handed over what he would have considered a King’s ransom.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The pub’s location is ideal for those looking to combine a nice walk with a pint or two. Just a short drive away near Junction 8 of the M25 are the scenic Surrey Hills which offer sublime views of the countryside as well as the back gardens of the extremely well-off. The pub serves a decent range of meals and has a quiz night on Tuesdays.