When out and about in the British Isles, there are few experiences more iconic, more famed, or more beloved than the traditional British pub. The reasons are quite obvious; the pub forms the perfect stopping point in any outing. Like a harbour during a long voyage, the pub acts as a place where you can rest your feet, slake your thirst and sate your hunger, and enjoy some local culture.
This is perhaps why older tourists especially tend to like them. On one hand pubs are familiar to them and tend not be too radical in their approaches. As you get older, such touchstones in life become invaluable. When entering a pub, most of the time you know what to expect. There’ll be beer, spirits and wines, tables to sit down at, food to enjoy, and perhaps classic games such as darts, Scrabble and snooker.
At the same time, every pub is different. Each one is its own microcosm of local culture, and you can tell a lot about a community by how their pubs are presented and operate. Every pub visit is a new experience in itself.
Below we’ve selected five pubs in Norfolk that we think are especially worth visiting, should you ever be in East Anglia. Whether you’re looking for good food, a place to recover from a long day, or simply a chance to soak in the local flavour, these pubs have you covered.
The Green Dragon (Wymondham)
We’ll start with an old classic; the Green Dragon pub in Wymondham is one of many that claims to be among the oldest operating pubs in the kingdom. Certainly, it’s got a better claim than most – it’s been open since 1371, making it a contemporary with Chaucer, the Peasant’s Revolt, and the Hundred Year’s War.
As befitting a pub of its vintage, the building is ancient, full of character, and oozes so much history it could give Tony Robinson a runny nose. Offering an impressive array of local and international beverages, from real ales to lagers to imported wines to fresh spirits, you will not be unsatisfied to wet your whistle. The kitchen likewise will provide home-cooked pub classics such as sausage and mash, curry, soup, and pie and chips.
The pub opens from midday to late, and offers entertainment on certain nights as well.
The Ship Inn (Weybourne)
Situated within the idyllic village of Weybourne, the Ship Inn offers a welcome respite if you’re ever rambling through the Norfolk countryside. As well as welcoming human travellers with food and drink, the Ship Inn proudly welcomes canine companions as well. So, if you do have a dog among your company, they are more than able to join you provided they remain on a leash.
Located within walking distance of the beach and befitting its nautical name, the Ship Inn offers many fish dishes, such as fish and chips, scampi, and lobster.
During fairer weather, the Ship Inn also offers a substantial beer garden out on the back of the building. With plenty of space to stretch out and plenty of benches and tables to sit down and enjoy the fresh air, the Ship Inn is a fantastic spot for summer outings. In the winter, a roaring wood burning stove will help banish the chill from your bones.
The Nelson Head (Horsey)
Located far away from the chaos of “civilisation”, Horsey offers a quiet and scenic retreat nestled in the serenity of the British countryside. The village is popular with animal lovers, as every year seal pups can be seen bounding up the nearby shoreline. Bird watchers, meanwhile, will have ample opportunity to head into the surrounding wilderness and experience the wealth of local fauna.
After all this animal watching, the Nelson Head pub is on hand to provide a pit stop to rest at. A proudly traditional English pub, it offers a roaring fire when it’s cold and a large beer garden when it’s warm. It offers the best place to stop at if you’re there to see the seal colonies, and it provides a rich selection of beverages and food.
Dogs are welcome here too, although they should be kept on a led and are not allowed in the dining room.
The Bell (Brisely)
Another pub rich in history and offering timeless refuge when out in the country, The Bell first opened its doors in the 17th century and functioned as a coaching house. It continues to proudly maintain much of its original charm, but has also embraced many modern trappings and luxuries as well. The building is spacious, well lit and open, and opens out to unspoiled views of Norfolk’s countryside.
The furniture likewise carries a scrubbed wood aesthetic, yet all of which are comfortable to sit on and handsome to look at.
It offers freshly cooked meals made from locally sourced ingredients, and some exceptional drinks on tap. The Bell maintains its coaching traditions and also offers rooms, so it makes a great overnight stopping point for weekend outings.
The Willow House (Watton)
We finish off at The Willow House, a 16th century pub found within the charming market town of Watton. The building is quite happy to show off its ancient wooden beams, although much of the furnishings are modern, and it is within easy access of the town and the surrounding countryside. It too offers en-suite accommodation, so feel free to spend the night if you wanted an extended visit.
The Willow House is a bit of the cosier side, so be careful not to bump your hips or shins. Locally sourced food and beverages are provided, and the Willow House offers various international tipples too for those with more continental tastes. The menu is seasonal, and changes its selections often.
It opens every day from midday until late, closing early on Sundays at 6pm.