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Discover Britain

Novel pubs

Characterful locals and literary locations

You've read the book and seen the film, now sup in the local where the action happened. Or might have happened. Here are 10 pubs where our most well-known authors are fabled to have drunk or taken inspiration.

A pint with the bard

Of the many pubs that claim to having served William Shakespeare, The Rhydspence Inn in Herefordshire apparently inspired the bard while he penned 'Much Ado About Nothing'. It's a long way from the play's setting in Messina in Sicily so you may have to read between the lines to find the link. Legend also has it that William contracted his fatal illness after stumbling home from a drink at The Bell Inn in Welford-on-Avon in the pouring rain. Could it have been the pork scratchings?

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Photo: The Rhydspence Inn, Whitney-on-Wye

What the Dickens?

A couple of London locations evoke the world of Charles Dickens. The George Inn is the only remaining galleried inn in London and boasts William Shakespeare among its earlier clientele, but Dickens, following in his footsteps, mentions the Southwark building in 'Little Dorrit' (1857). Charles also propped up the bar at The Grapes in Limehouse, east London. The pub appears, thinly disguised, as The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in 'Our Mutual Friend' (1865). Moving to the West Country, Richard Doddridge Blackmore wrote some of his Exmoor romance 'Lorna Doone' (1869) at the Rising Sun Hotel in Lynmouth, Devon. Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed here too.

The local

Sadly, Jane Austen didn't live to see The Greyfriar in Chawton, Hampshire, as a beer shop, first mentioned as such in 1847. Before that it was a row of cottages opposite her house. In Haworth, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë no doubt often passed by The Old White Lion Hotel while living at Haworth Parsonage from the 1820s to the 1850s.

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Photo: The Greyfriar, Chawton

Field of Endeavour

Fans (and there are many) of Colin Dexter's Morse will need no introduction to the inspector's haunts. Many pubs in and around Oxford featured in the novels and in the television episodes during the 1980s and 90s. The popular Turf Tavern in Bath Place was a location in the episodes 'The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn', 'Service of all the Dead' and 'The Settling of The Sun'. Just over a mile north of the city centre in Lower Wolvercote is the 17th-century Trout Inn. The riverside pub starred in 'The Wolvercote Tongue' and 'Second Time Around'.

An old favourite

In Dorset, Thomas Hardy often referred to The Acorn Inn in Evershot as the Sow and Acorn. It appears in 'An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress' (1878), 'The First Countess of Wessex' (1889), and most famously in 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' (1891).

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Photo: The Acorn Inn, Evershot