Dyffryn Arms

West Wales - Pontfaen

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

SA65 9SE

Tel: (01348) 881863

Real Ale: Yes

Real Cider: Yes

View on: Whatpub

One of the great survivors among rural pubs, run by 86-year-old Bessie Davies who has been in charge for over forty years. It was built in 1845 as recorded in the datestone at the top of the building. This also gives the name as ‘Llwyn-Celynen’ (holly bush) which might suggest this was the original name for the pub. Although there is a central entrance, the way in now is through a side passage which has a mottled light-brown dado, said to date from 1938. The heart of the pub is a simple, squarish public bar with red and black quarry-tiled floor. It has a real mixture of furniture, including an old high-back settle by the door and a basic bench. There is no counter as such, just an opening with horizontally sliding window to the ground-floor cellar, which has tiled walling (these tiles too are probably inter-war). It’s a place where everyone is drawn inevitably into conversation. The lounge (occasionally brought into use) lies across the central corridor. Outside toilets. Together with the Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay , this is one of only two Welsh pubs that serve beer from the cask via a jug.

This is one of the greatest survivors among Britain's rural pubs and a reminder of how many thousands must once have appeared. There is not a bar counter as such - just an opening with horizontally-sliding sashes to the ground-floor cellar that is opened for service and closed afterwards. The pebble-dashed building is dated 1845 and looks more like a house as there is no hanging inn sign, just a small one above the now disused original main door. The pub has been in the same family ownership since built and is affectionately known as 'Bessie's' after the characterful octogenarian licensee; Welsh language conversation predominates in this pub.

The heart of the pub is a squarish public bar with a medley of furniture including an old high-back seat/box settle and a low basic bench - there is virtually nothing to distinguish this from an ordinary domestic room. The floor has red and black quarry tiles and there is a rough stone fireplace, which might have been introduced in c.1960. The beer is served via a glass jug into your glass - one of only two pubs in Wales still using this time-honoured way of selling beer - the other is the highly recommended Cresselly Arms at Cresswell Quay. Other Heritage Pubs still using a jug to serve at least one real ale are the Barley Mow, Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire; Holly Bush, Makeney, Derbyshire; Star, Bath, Somerset; Anchor, High Offley, Staffordshire Falcon, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire; and Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay, Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

A second room, the lounge, which is sometimes brought into use, lies across a corridor from the public bar. The main entrance is now down a passage on the right in an attached building where the only feature that extends beyond the purely functional is the light brown and black dado tiling dating from 1938. Almost without exception, pubs are now stand-alone businesses but here at the Dyffryn Arms, the pub is still linked to a smallholding with ten acres of farmland plus six of woodland. Other Heritage Pubs with working farms attached and run by the licensee or their family members are the Luppitt Inn, Luppitt ; Quiet Woman, Earl Sterndale; Victoria Arms, Worton ; and New Cross Inn, Court Henry .

Outside gents' and ladies'. New Year is celebrated here on the 13th January - this is the only time you will see food in this pub! There is also a charity event on the Saturday of the May Bank Holiday weekend with stalls outside the pub. It is usually open from 11 to 12, but may close at 10 if there are no customers; open 12 to 10.30 Sun.

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