An attractive, partly half-timbered village pub run by the Peacock family for 60 years until 2007. After they came a number of changes were made in 1946 or 1947, notably alteration of a straight counter to the current polygonal shape. The left-hand side of the main bar has basic bench seating partly made from old barrel staves, an inglenook fireplace, exposed beams and a brick floor. Beer is served from casks on stillage, clearly visible from the counter. Unusually there is a small brick fireplace within the servery area. At the rear is a simply appointed room with a wood-block floor and a narrow passage to the right, at the end of which is a hatch to the back of the servery. The right-hand side of the main bar was created in 1946/7 out of a former shop, the door to which now provides service to outdoor customers. To the right of the pub is a separate corrugated-iron function room. Outside gents’ but inside ladies’ with a blocked spy-hole in the door, this being an exterior door until 1947
The Royal Oak is an excellent example of the quintessential English country inn. A 17th-century unspoilt cottage-style, thatched pub set back from the road and with a perfect pub garden, making it very popular in good weather. Whilst you may find other idyllic village inns around the country you are, sadly, very unlikely to find many with an interior that matches the unspoilt exterior. Here you will find all the essential elements of a traditional English pub - three small rooms, one with a brick floor, low beamed ceiling, inglenook fireplace, scrubbed tables, and local real ales served from casks on a stillage behind the bar - perfect!
Originally owned by Rock Brewery (Brighton), then Portsmouth & Brighton United Breweries, passing to Brickwoods in 1948, then via Whitbread to Punch Taverns eventually. Present owners, Michael and Sharon Bailey, purchased the freehold in 2009. The left-hand side of the cottage is their living accommodation. It was run by the Peacock family for 60 years until 2007 and is barely altered in that time. The last change to the interior was in 1946/7 when the former straight counter running from the front window to the rear of the room was altered to the present polygonal shape creating the present public bar. The disused door on the right still has the bell on it to announce your arrival!
What is now the main public bar has standing timbers dividing the bare wooden floor, part open rafter right side containing the counter. On the far right are wall benches perched on logs against the old panelled walls; part of the seating includes the original 'United Ales & Stouts' sign outside the pub and the wording can just be made out if you are prepared to crawl on the floor (but not recommended as the locals will think you completely mad!). Some original oak flooring remains behind the bar and to the far right-hand side, but the remainder in this bar was redone circa 1995 by the brewery, and is of deal (cheaper than oak).
The bar counter is original. Small bowls for coins behind the bar were acquired in 1970s when Barclays Bank, Hurstpierpoint branch was refitted. There are some old bar back shelves but those over the stillage were fitted in the 1980s to meet with Health & Safety requirements. Note the small brick fireplace behind the servery - one of only a handful of such fireplaces known to exist. Beer is served from casks on stillage (with in-cask cooling) clearly visible from the counter and there are old shelves situated above the casks.
The room on the left was originally the main drinking space and has an original brick floor laid on bare earth. Original ceiling beams exposed in 1946/47 when the match-board added in Victorian times was removed throughout so now standing timbers separate them. This is the date that the internal wall and door between original tap room and the "new bar" were removed. The old brick inglenook fireplace has basic benches either side, a Royal Oak fireback, includes an oven and the mantelshelf almost reaches the low ceiling. The fireplace was lifted off the floor by 6" in the 1980s, to meet Health and Safety concerns. Curved slatted wood back to two parts of bench seating are old barrel staves and there are two scrubbed tables, bare low benches and rustic dado panelling. The door at the rear left was originally an exterior door until the ladies' toilet was added in 1946/47 at the rear in a brick extension. The door to the ladies has a blocked spy-hole on it (but not discernible - 2020).
At the rear right a door leads to the saloon in an extension to the original building and it has an original parquet flooring with each block being at least 6" deep. The fireplace was removed in the 1950s when the ladies toilet was added. If you look under the pew on the rear wall you will see the some concrete remains of the fireplace. This small room retains its original ceiling but with false beams, as well as timber effect on the walls all fitted in 1980s, and a pine door to the main bar which replaced the original one (done on the cheap by the brewery). The recess area to the right hand side of saloon was created at same time and leads to the cellar with a hatch to the back of the bar There are scrubbed tables, pew, basic bench seating and piano which all add to the traditional feel of this room.
On the right hand side of the pub is a corrugated iron building, originally the village hall, which is still in use as a polling station. It is claimed to be a prototype of what was sent to Australia as a flat packed building type and dates from the 1850s. It has recently been converted into part dining room with a small counter added, a pot belied stove and is also used for small functions and as overflow. The pub has an outside gents' on the right hand side (previously at the rear) which was added in 1946, which is also the date of the exterior porch.
*2008 Sunday Times Travel Supplement.