Saturday, 10 August 2013

Ye Olde Ostrich, Colnbrook part 2

 So, here we are at Ye Olde Ostrich in Colnbrook. The Ostrich (which maybe derived from Hospice, Hospice meaning a place of refuge or rest for travellers) was first built in 1106 and the present building in around 1500 (it is thought to be the 3rd oldest inn in the country). It is reputedly haunted and has been featured in the Most Haunted television programme. 

     The Ostrich's  biggest claim to fame (or infamy) is the story of Mr Jarman who was landlord during the 17th century. The Ostrich was one of several coaching inns in Colnbrook at the time (in 1577 there were 10 such establishments) and Mr Jarman would entice the most affluent customers with high quality food, ales and wine, then offer them the best room in the house at reasonable rates. But, unbeknownst to the poor unsuspecting client, the best room was directly over the kitchen and Jarman had installed a kind of trap door mechanism in which, once the retaining pins were removed, the floor and bed swung down and the sleeping customer slipped out of the bottom of the bed straight into a boiling vat.

Impression of Jarmans trapdoor bed

 Jarman and his wife would then sell the victims belongings after pocketing his monies and dispose of the body in the river Colne.

      But Jarman was found out after murdering a wealthy clothier, Thomas of Reading, just by not disposing of the poor fellows horse. During investigations Jarman confessed and he and his wife were tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. Whilst in prison waiting for the sentence to be carried out, Jarman allegedly confessed to a fellow prisoner that he had disposed of at least 60 travellers in this way. This may have been just prison bragging but he was certainly responsible for several deaths. It has been suggested that this was the basis for the story of Sweeney Todd.

      Interesting as this story is, it could all be a load of rubbish! Thomas Delaney, a writer of the period, notes that there was a murder at the time but at a pub called the Crane and there is nothing to link it to the Ostrich apart from both being the names of birds. Also, a government return from 1577 names a Mr Jarman as an innkeeper in Colnbrooke but at an inn on the other side of High Street.

Unfortunately, all this history doesn't rub off on its current modern day setting. I took some pictures, as I always do, and this one picture stood out to me more than any...

Did I hear someone say "American Diner"? 

And if you were wondering...

Yep! That's a Stainless Steel bar... like a canteen... Or a Diner!

I mean for Christs sake, How much history was in that bar? and some corporate twat decided to "modern" it up, WHY? If I wanted my beer on a stainless steel bar, I'd go to.... I don't know where I'd go actually. Surely this is unheard of? Am I not well-versed enough in "THE ENGLISH PUB™" that I've not come across this before? Please comment below and let me know.

They also had double glass doors, front and back, across what used to be the carriage entrance. We didn't take a picture 'cos we didn't think you could stand it!!

Needless to say that I didn't like it, and there is a couple of other things I didn't like, For example, again, all available indoor space was assigned for dining tables, and I didn't feel welcome. Outside there was a bunch of young 'uns keeping themselves to themselves, and a couple of unbelievably stereotypical toffs, who look like they where stopping for a Pimms on the way back from the Regatta, in their blazers with whatever crest emblazoned on the breast pocket, even wearing straw boaters! Inside had one family in the other room eating a meal, and that was it... No locals, No warm welcome, Nothing.... What time does The Rising Sun shut again?

I did like a few things...

They got their own Beer! Excitedly, I asked the barmaid for more info on the Ostrich Lager, Who Brewed it? Was it brewed on the premises? Errr... No. Its was a re-labelled major beer company... from Scotland... Still, tasted nice...

Too be honest, it was a bit disappointing. It was about 9 o'clock on a Friday night and there was nobody in! There were about 9 or 10 sat outside enjoying the evening sun and, as Clint said, one family having a meal inside. No locals, no old fellas to talk to with lots of stories and the landlord wasn't there nor his "guide". The assistant manager, Sarah, was nice but very young and, although she showed me round the pub didn't really seem very forthcoming. The pub itself (apart from the plastic bar) is great. All old beams and leaning all over the place.

As promised after our last pub I thought I'd try a local brew so I had a pint of Kings Gold (4.2%) from Sussex brewer J W King. It was not unpleasant but seemed a little bland with no bite. I wouldn't have another.

Actually, If you get past the Canteen/Bar, The pub has some great old features, all of which will be best shown as pics, not by my below par education trying to describe them. But I do wanna comment on these pics, My favourite of our quest so far...


And I was stretching! Still, you don't get diamonds the size of house bricks!

It was a shame the place was empty, 'cos after our little tour, and a quick read of the local history leaflet, there wasn't a great deal left to do... a lot like our first pub visit, Ye Olde Boars Head, but the difference there was that we were stuck there. Here, we had had two pints of Ostrich piss and a car sat outside... It was inevitable really, with no one to talk to, no one in the bar to ambush for a chat, all photos taken, we'd had enough, and headed back to sunny Slough. This had proved to be generic eatery number 2, and no one was hungry... 

Anyway, we'll post the rest of the pictures next time, but for now, San Miguel awaits...


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