Category Archives: Wiltshire Pubs

The End of the Two Pigs

TWO PIGSThe news that another pub has closed for good comes as little surprise these days, so inured have we become to the steady erosion of community facilities by property developers and their ilk. Such things are now commonplace in a land where bonanzas for the few, austerity for the many and the rapid deterioration of the public realm are the order of the day.

Occasionally, though, a pub closure comes along that makes you sit up and take notice. The Two Pigs at Corsham was just such a pub, a proper traditional locals’ pub that didn’t serve food, but whose choice of real ales saw it awarded the coveted title of Pub of the Year by the local CAMRA branch a few years back. It’s still in this year’s Good Beer Guide, but anyone who turns up in search of a pint now will be disappointed, because as of 30 January 2017 Wiltshire Council granted the owners permission to convert it to a private house.

They applied for change of use back in November when the pub was still open, and it closed in December. Astonishingly, given the campaigns to save other popular hostelries when similar threats have occurred, protest seems – with the honourable exceptions of two strongly worded objections from regulars – to have been absent. And so the long, glorious (and occasionally inglorious) history of the Two Pigs has come ignominiously to an end.

It started out as a beerhouse in the 1830s, and was known as the Spread Eagle until the present owners took it on, changing its name, restoring its reputation, and drawing punters in not only for its beer and bonhomie but also for the Monday night blues sessions, which really could be something special – as I can confirm.

There are several other pubs in Corsham, including one a few yards away, but none of them was like the Two Pigs – which is why it made the Good Beer Guide, and why it was the boozer of choice not only for many locals but also for discerning drinkers from farther away. There seems no reason why it could not have continued in much the same way for years to come, especially as around 700 new homes are due to be built nearby over the next few years.

Given the Two Pigs’ continued success and clear fulfilment of a social need, you might have thought the very least the planning authority would have asked for is evidence that no one else was prepared to buy and run the pub. But they didn’t – and the Two Pigs is now history – or should that be bacon?

And, of course, with change of use confirmed, the former Two Pigs is almost certainly worth a good deal more than it was as a pub.

More on the Two Pigs at http://www.rudloescene.co.uk/news/pickwick

The Spread Eagle in the 1950s, before it became the Two Pigs
The Spread Eagle in the 1950s, before it became the Two Pigs

 

evening

Welcome to one of the country’s top pubs.

If you’ve ever watched the cult film Morris: A Life With Bells On then, inadvertently, you’ve seen glimpses of one of our favourite pubs – The Compasses at Chicksgrove, in Wiltshire. Much of the Morris team’s dancing is done in the car park and the cottage of the hero, Derecq Twist, is in fact Plum Cottage, where we have stayed.

According to the website the pub building dates back to the fourteenth century – Historic England says seventeenth century. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Cottages are notoriously difficult to date but there are records for the Sutton Mandeville estate which date back to the sixteenth century and it is possible at least one refers to the building. When it became an inn is unclear – it was certainly a well established one by the beginning of the nineteenth century because sales were held there.

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The interior is a glorious mixture of old artefacts, including a piano, modern photographic images and the usual mixture of chalkboards with the day’s specials.

bar

pianoToday the establishment is rather more than just being a picturesque pub with beer. The food is excellent, with an ever-changing menu of everything from bar snacks to delicious three course meals. The beers are usually local – there are always two and sometimes three available, all well kept. Why the local CAMRA has not included it in the Good Beer Guide is a puzzle to both ourselves and the landlord. It certainly deserves to be there. Perhaps someone should give them a nudge. For those who prefer wines, there is a comprehensive wine list.

And of course you can stay there. Not only are there four well-equipped letting rooms, there is also the cosy Plum Cottage.plum-cottage

You can self cater, but it’s more likely you’ll want to try the delicious Compasses breakfasts. With one double and two single bedrooms, it makes a great place for a family to stay. Islay the westie very much approved of the wood-burning stove when we had an autumn break there. In fact, the whole pub is high on Islay’s recommendation list.

wood-burner

So we weren’t too surprised, when we went down a little while ago, to find that it is now in the list of the top ten pubs in the United Kingdom in the 2017 Good Pub Guide. It’s an award that is well deserved, and they’re rightly proud of it.

award

Your only problem may be finding it. I think I overheard someone saying their satnav had tried to take them down a farm track. So I recommend going to the Compasses website where you will not only find instructions on how to get there, but a list of nearby places which are well worth a visit. For keen walkers, as we are, there are also many interesting expeditions that can be made.

But here’s my advice. It gets very busy at weekends, and you will need to book. If you can possibly visit mid-week, then I recommend you do so. At least for the winter months they are closed on Monday lunchtimes, otherwise the hours are 12 – 3 p.m. and 6 – 11 p.m. and 7 – 10.30 p.m. on Sundays.