Tuesday 31 May 2011

Vale Tucker's Grave.

Tucker's Grave Inn closes today. After some 200 years as a continuously operating Inn, tonight, when they shout 'time please gents', a curtain will come down on a small slice of SOLE, and the souls of those who have known and loved it.

There's no big story.. not corporate pirate chasing the little man from the land. The owners are too old to continue. Margaret and her husband (who's fought ill health for some time) are just finding the burden of running a pub.. and not just any old pub.. but possibly the most famous cider pub in the area.. too overwhelming.

Tucker's Grave is a three-roomed pub with no bar counter and a  tap room. An 18th-century former cottage which has been a pub for over 200 years. The pub name comes from the burial place of a suicide, Edwin Tucker, who died in 1747. The two original delightfully unspoilt pub rooms with simple panelling and fixed bench seating are either side of a central corridor with ancient panelling. On the right is the tap room - note the Georgian lettering on the door which probably dates from the early 19th-century, if not the late 18th-century, and is surely the earliest pub lettering in the country. It survived because, at some point, it was covered by a screwed-on-sign. This small basic room has wall benches and the odd bell pushes. The mantelshelf over the old stone fireplace was replaced in 2007 when the original one caught fire and the room required re-painting as a result of smoke damage.

On the left of the corridor a latch door leads to the tiny public bar which has a genuine Victorian tiled fireplace, some old bar back shelving near the door and above the window but more modern shelving opposite. There is no bar counter - casks of beer and cider are stacked in the bay window which has external shutters to protect the barrels from the sun. A third room to the far left was formerly the living room and was brought into use in 1985 - it has a Victorian tiled fireplace with marble surround. At the end of the passage which gets very narrow is a door leading to the outside gents and ladies on the rear right of the building. There is a skittle alley in a separate stone building at the rear.

Like the above description, there's not a lot to Tuckers. No food, no pokies, no gastro-pomp. It's a stone Inn, in the middle of nowhere, servicing the locals and a few discerning (read DAMN LUCKY) outsiders who know of it.
I got taken there via a tenous connection to The Wurzles, The Stranglers, a lab called Dougie and a thick leathery thing that I didn't like having my lips on. The scum on the rim of said leathery thing was nice, tho.

Tucker's Grave serves Thatcher's Cheddar Valley cider, a classic Heritage cider. Cheddar Valley cider, which is cloudy with a distinctive orange, almost red, colouration. These rough ciders have a short shelf life and are generally tapped straight from a barrel kept in a pub's bar rather than its cellar. Thatcher's Cheddar Valley is a lurid orange cloudy cider, served at room temp.

It looks like a glass of flat Fanta. However, at 7% it has a kick. Not a 'get you pissed and all argy-bargy' pissed. More like a mellow, giggly 'toke on a good joint' glow.

Simply, it's like no experience I've ever had with alcohol (and believe me, I've had a few!).

Thatcher's cider brewery is another local gem. Still run by the original family, it pumps out 1000 litres of various ciders a year. All made from local Somerset apples, sourced from local farms.
SOLE is where the heart is, and Somerset still has a fine tradition of supporting and encouraging local producers to stay true to heritage values. Like Thatchers. And Tuckers. Even the Bath Farmer's market was the first SOLE market in the UK. (as oppossed to farm gate purchasing)

**Blogger is being a tool, and the server is regecting my photos, so come back tomorrow and I'll upload some more.**
Then it was off to the Faulkland Inn for a pint of Phesant Plucker, some whitebait and a trad Sunday roast beef, Yorkshire pub and all the trimmings.

Given that most breweries, inns, ale houses and pub-grub houses are sadly owned by chains here in the UK, next your over here, give a wee thought to what you're drinking/eating and who your hard-earned £££ are supporting. Like Tucker's, they're a dying breed.

get in while you can.


LouieGribble said...

I'm guessing the nice bit of scum attached to the leathery thing was me?
Thank for the Tucker's tribute.
Louie Gribble