Black Horse

Oxfordshire - Checkendon

A historic pub interior of regional importance

Listed Status: Not listed

Burncote Lane
Checkendon
RG8 0TE

OS ref: SU666841

Tel: (01491) 680418

Email: margaret.morgan8@btinternet.com

Real Ale: Yes

Real Cider: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This, the ‘pub in the woods’, is a long red-brick building with an attractive green-painted verandah, and has been in the same family hands since 1905. Inside are three small rooms but the two right-hand ones have been largely amalgamated. It is probable a corridor ran along the exterior wall. There is a red-quarry tiled floor and a counter which is no doubt a century or more old. No new-fangled items here – even the till is an old wooden pull-out drawer and bills are totted up by pen and paper when beyond the reach of mental arithmetic.. The left-hand room (not always open) has been brought into use, probably in the mid-twentieth century. Note the glass-fronted advertising signs for Guinness and Bass by the entrances. Beer is fetched from the cellar. Outside toilets. Food consists of hot baguettes and bacon rolls served at lunchtimes. Until the 1980s this was a combined pub and dairy farm business, typical of the way pubs often doubled up with other occupations many years ago.

This well hidden away rural pub is a real step back in time. Rightly nicknamed the 'pub in the woods', it is situated north of the village down a narrow lane off the road to Stoke Row and attached to a farm. Since 1905 it has been in the same family who ran the diary farm until the mid 1980s. Margaret Stallwood bought the freehold of the pub in 1952 and ran it until her death in 1993 aged 86. The present owners Margaret and Martin Morgan has continued to run it as a truly old fashioned pub with the only food being hot baguettes and bacon rolls served at lunchtimes, as well as crisps and nuts. They are assisted by three daughters including Claire who runs a riding school next to the pub.

It is a long redbrick building which apparently dates back to the 18th century and has an attractive green painted part glazed veranda all along the front with old wooden seating and a red brick floor. Note the old 'Guinness In Bottle' glass fronted advertising wall sign by the left entrance and a Bass in Bottle' glass fronted advertising wall sign by the right (main) entrance. Inside are three small rooms but some changes in post-war times have seen the two right hand rooms more joined together than originally. It is likely that originally there would have been an inner porch with doors to the left and right; also probably a corridor ran along the exterior wall side and there was a door into the middle room. So a wall looks to have been taken out.

On the right is a small room with a red quarry tiled floor that houses the servery at the far right of the building and has remarkably basic woodwork that must once have been common in thousands of rural pubs. There is a bar counter at least 100 years old and now painted a pale green colour and a bar back featuring shelves of a similar age. There are no modern items here – even the till is an old wooden pull-out drawer designed to take cash and the beer bill is totted up by pen and paper. The beer is fetched from the cellar on the right end of the servery with the figure ‘4’ on the door.

This room has some dado panelling also painted a pale green and a brick fireplace that looks 1930s but may have been installed just after the war with a log fire. There are indications on the ceiling in this room that it was at one time in the distant past divided into two by a partition wall. The servery area and bar still have a nicotine stained ceiling.

You can walk either side of the fireplace into the middle room which has another brick fireplace that looks 1930s but may have been installed just after the war. The panelled dado here is painted a dark green and this room is more plushly furnished with a carpet, armchairs and a settee. The left hand room, which is not always open, was a former domestic room that has been brought into use as a public room. It has a wood surround and 1930s brick fireplace and old dado panelling painted a deep red. It still has the feel of someone’s front room.

Outside on the left end of the building are the antiquated gents’ with a corrugated asbestos roof and only an urinal. Walk around the right hand end of the pub and towards the farm buildings at the rear and you will find an outbuilding with the outside ladies and as separate WC for gents’. During the winter months the pub is closed Sunday evening and opening times may vary so best to ring to check.

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