Anyway, this is me outside Ye Olde Boars Head in Middleton.
On arriving we entered and........bought a pint, of course. We had a bit of a nose round, getting a few strange looks as we examined all the old pictures on the walls and then the walls themselves. Then I asked the girl behind the bar if Leanne was around and after a few minutes she appeared. We made our introductions and we sat in one of the back rooms and had a chat. She told us a little about the pub and that, after my first call to her, she had gone straight to our blog and read it. This was promising after our previous dealings with managers. She then took us on a tour of the pub.
Turns out, not only were we lucky to have some time with the landlady, Leanne, but she also knew loads! She told us about how she was trying to get a bit of the history of the pub into a leaflet, and was hoping to do some tours. Surprisingly, it seems as though Middleton gets its fair share of our friends from across the pond.
Anyway, I had noticed walking through Middleton on the way to the pub was a strange experience, starting from our hotel, we passed some nice housing estates and it seemed like a nice place to live. Then as we got closer to the centre, we started to see some some strange juxtaposition. For example, as we were looking for the St Leonards Church sign, we passed a cracking little lively pub, next to the church on the hill, which was in huge grounds, surrounded by cobbled roads, and next to that, there was a park with a feature bandstand. All looked brilliant. But then turn around 180 degrees, and there were the ugliest, run down parts of the town, all boarded up industrial units, probably 100 years old. I got the feeling that with a little investment on these run down areas, Middleton would be a gem of the area, especially with all the nice people we had met.
Middleton Park and Bandstand
I did see these things but it didn't register quite so much with me. I was seeing everything through a red haze and was fighting for breath in the thin atmosphere. I was now suffering for my sedentary lifestyle at this altitude (Oh all right...all I'd done was walk a couple of miles but it was uphill for the first mile).
The pub was originally three dwelling houses which were built around 1587 according to one source, but the date 1632 is cut into a stone lintel in the cellar. At some point the cottages were bought by the clergy from St Leonards church and the building was used as a courtroom. As you pass from the front lounge area into what was once outside but is now inside there is a trapdoor in the floor which leads down to a very small box-like room under the lounge. This is where the prisoners were kept while waiting to be bought before the magistrate. In the event the accused was found guilty and sentenced to death for his crime he was kept in this cell until he was taken to be hanged.......... at the church!!!
Later an extension was added on one end to create a bigger court and this now serves as the pubs function room named the Sessions room in honour of it's history.
The Sessions Room
One of the many interesting features of this room is the pub sign hanging on what was once the outside wall. It was here that Clint asked Leanne how long she had been at the pub and that little story was interesting to us.
Her mother had worked at the pub as a young girl and met her father when he joined the pub football team. Years later Leanne went to work in Scotland and came home at Christmas to see her family. Her cousin was now running Ye Olde Boars Head and, being Christmas, was very busy. Leanne offered to help out behind the bar and has been there ever since and as manageress for the last 4 years. In a further twist, she employed a young man to work in the kitchen but they became very friendly and she had to sack him so that they could have a relationship as it would be frowned on by the brewery. They get married next year. How cools that?
The visit was getting better and better. Excellent sights. Excellent people, Excellent tales, and we were only on the first pint. Next blog we'll write about the people and tales they tell.
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Anyway... got 1 beer left, so I'll open that and toast to the next blog....