Buckinghamshire - West Wycombe

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

High Street
West Wycombe
HP14 3AE

Tel: (01494) 527031

Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Public Transport: Near Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

The Swan dates back to the eighteenth-century and has been run by the same family since 1910 under the ownership of the National Trust. What counts here is that it was totally refitted and extended in 1932 by Wheeler's Wycombe brewery and little has changed since. There are two well-preserved pub rooms – the saloon (at the front) and a rather spartan public bar – set at right-angles to one another and with an L-shaped servery: note the curtains for providing some privacy between the two bars. Each part of the servery has a mirrored bar-back fitting. In the saloon there is an inglenook fireplace at the far end, plus a brick one which probably dates from the 1932 refit: there is a similar fireplace in the public bar. Both rooms have herringbone parquet flooring. The crisp, white-tiled gents’ is a splendid affair, untouched since the 1930s, and sited on the corner of the building with access from both bars (via an ‘anteroom’ space on each side). Down the left-hand side is a door marked ‘Reception’ (the former jug and bottle) and another door to the dining room. As at a number of pubs in the Chilterns, the casks are stillaged at the back of the servery.

Now owned by the National Trust, like much of West Wycombe, this 18th-century pub was refitted and extended in 1932 in a simple style by Wheelers Wycombe brewery. Originally it consisted of two small rooms in what is now the lounge - hence two fireplaces - and it extended back as far as the bottle store/cellar; in the area of the present public bar was the former kitchen. To convert the original 18th-century front part into what we see today the brewery firstly constructed the large triple garage situated at the rear of the premises - this was then used as a temporary bar! The enlarged pub opened for business in 1932 and consists of two bars – the saloon and the public bar – set at right-angles to one another - with an off-sales and dining room behind. Prior to the extension a 99-year lease was granted in favour of Wheelers Brewery, who were then taken over by Simonds of Reading and eventually it became a Courage pub. In c.1970 the Barry family bought the lease from Courage so they are now direct tenants of the National Trust.

Since 1910 the pub has been run by the same family and on 19 September 2010 a 100th birthday party was attended by 100 people. The front bar has an inglenook fireplace with decorative fire-back. The counter was installed in 1932 (possibly the first time the pub had a counter?) as was a modest back fitting with bevelled mirror panels situated at right angles to the counter. The parquet floor and brick fireplace on the left are from 1932. The only way to walk between the two bars without going outside is via the gents' toilets. These are unchanged with white tiled walls, two original Shanks' urinals and washbasin. The ladies' is situated just 'outside' the public bar entrance and is also unchanged and still has a 'one penny in the slot' device!

The public bar is accessed on the left and is somewhat austere with parquet floor, a fine bar-back with bevelled mirrored panels, a long counter with no dispensers, a 1930s brick fireplace with old coal stove and even a piano. Local real ale is served from casks stillaged behind the servery, something that is now quite rare in Britain (and non-existent in some parts). Note the curtains in the servery which can be pulled across to provide a degree of privacy between the two bars.

Another door down the left side has 'Reception' on the door and is the former jug and bottle, but is now used the entrance for anyone stopping the night - four rooms available. The short passage has a parquet floor, two stools, a hatch/flap at the end and an old grandfather clock on the bar side.

The other door into the pub is to the Dining Room which is another small room with a parquet floor and 1930s brick fireplace. This is where traditional roast lunches (the joint goes in the oven at 9.00 am!) are served most weekday lunchtimes - booking advised, with Thursday and Friday lunch particularly busy. Lunch consists of main course, sweet and coffee for £7.50 (2011).

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