HENRY DEEDES: What joy to raise a pint to Her Maj with a Crown on the side
- Latest Platinum Jubilee news as the Queen celebrates 70 years of service
At the Bell Inn at Aldworth, West Berkshire, there are a few sore heads after last night’s Jubilee celebrations. On Thursday afternoon, Locals had gathered at this most quintessential of English boozers before marching off to the nearby beacon-lighting ceremony, which featured a ceremonial bugler, pipe band and, of course, drinks aplenty.
Then it was all back to the Bell to carry on the revelry until chucking-out time.
Yet no sooner had the midday gun sounded yesterday afternoon than there was a heavy rap on the pub’s door and a trickle of bleary-eyed customers trudged back in to raise another celebratory glass in the Queen’s honour.
Yet those toasts suddenly took on particularly regal flavour, as the pub was once again serving beer in pint glasses sporting the Crown symbol, following the government’s decision – revealed in The Mail on Sunday – to revive imperial measurements to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
‘Yet those toasts suddenly took on particularly regal flavour, as the pub was once again serving beer in pint glasses sporting the Crown symbol’
British pint glasses were first inscribed with the symbol 300 years ago, during the reign of William III, to stop publicans ripping off their customers by serving drinks in smaller glasses. There they remained until 2006 when the EU Measuring Instruments Directive came into force, requiring the EU-wide CE mark to be added to pint glasses – meaning the Crown mark fell out of use.
The Bell’s landlord Hugh Macaulay, whose family has owned the pub for 200 years, was delighted to see the stamp back on his pint pots. Tipplers will probably have to wait a few weeks before they start receiving their Crown-embossed pint. After bossy Brussels quangocrats signalled their demise, most of those old glasses would have ended up in landfill.
Thankfully, Hugh kept a few down in the cellar for a rainy day, making the Bell possibly the first pub in the UK to start serving beer in them again.
‘It’s great,’ he said as he pulled the first of what would be dozens of foaming pints yesterday. ‘Our regulars are also very pleased about it. It should never have been removed. It’s traditional.’
Tradition is very big at the Grade II-listed Bell, whose scrubbed tables and vast inglenook fireplace have remained unchanged for decades.
Behind the bar, a sign reads: ‘Freedom is under threat. We must defend it with all our might.’
Small wonder in 2020 that Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) named it Britain’s best pub. This is the sort of place where only local ales are served – and lager not the done thing.
Time was when Hugh’s late pipe-smoking father, Ian, would politely advise anyone requesting a pint of the fizzy stuff to try another establishment up the road.
British pint glasses were first inscribed with the symbol 300 years ago, during the reign of William III, to stop publicans ripping off their customers by serving drinks in smaller glasses
Ian was laid to rest in a field out the back of the pub but Hugh’s mother Heather, the Bell’s formidable matriarch, still serves behind the bar and is equally excited about the Crown’s return. ‘About time too!’ she harrumphs.
‘We should be proud to show off our monarchy. The scenes on the Mall yesterday – that was true England. Other countries have royal families of course but none compare to ours.’
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Heather has always tended to view any directive which comes out of Brussels with gimlet-eyed suspicion. ‘You remember what Winston Churchill said? ‘If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must choose the open sea’ Well, he was jolly well right!’ she added.
Out in the beer garden, retired pilot Clive Large was drinking from his own pewter tankard which is kept behind the bar. He too welcomed seeing the Crown stamp back on English glasses.
‘Anything traditional is good with me,’ he said, taking a long slurp of a local brew.
‘I don’t know how practical returning to imperial units is but I’m all for it. As someone who flew aeroplanes, I measure everything in feet.
‘If you’d asked me how many metres I was from the ground when I was flying I wouldn’t know what you were talking about!’ Scornful metropolitan sorts will doubtless sneer at this as sepia-tinged imperial nostalgia.
Well, let them scoff I say. And let the rest of us happy to see the Crown back on the pint get on with raising a glass or three of them to HM this weekend. Cheers, ma’am!
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