Following on from our walk around Chiddingly, we suggested a visit to the Six Bells pub would be an appropriate landing place, so let’s tell you a little about the pub….
There’s been an inn on this site since the 1730s, catering to travellers on the main route between London and Eastbourne. Now, that route is the A22, a little distance away, so the pub enjoys peace and quiet set within the historic village of Chiddingly.
These days, the owner, Richard Newman, bills the pub as the Eighth Wonder of the World – at least on their Facebook page. We’ll let you decide, but here at Unknown Kent and Sussex, we’re happy to let him get away with that. Here’s why…
The building itself is lovely. A typical Sussex red brick affair with tiled roof. Inside, there are various nooks and crannies filled with mismatched wooden chairs and benches. I especially like the brick floors and exposed beams. One can imagine that not too much has changed since it first opened although it has been extended. In winter, the fire in the massive Inglenook fireplace is fed with huge logs, but there’s more than one fireplace keeping the pub warm and exuding that lovely smell of charred wood.
Music is played in a large room filled with appropriate memorabilia and it can be extremely loud but quite wonderful. In fact, the pub has a great reputation for live music in the area, also hosting Sunday jazz and an open mic night.
It’s easy to convince yourself that the building could be haunted and word has it that it is! Allegedly by one Sarah French who was convicted of poisoning her husband with an onion pie so she could make off with the object of her fancy (who, it turned out, wasn’t interested in her). Sarah was hanged in front of 3-4000 people in Lewes Prison in 1852. The jury in the case sat in the top bar debating the case.
I’ve never seen onion pie on the specials board at the Six Bells, but there are plenty of other pies available. Recently, my companion very much enjoyed the Homity Pie, served with perfectly cooked fresh vegetables. I went for the Halloumi Burger. The halloumi was breaded and juicy, served in a soft bap with chips that were cooked to perfection and very tasty coleslaw.
The Bells has an extensive menu of good, wholesome pub grub as well as a varied and changing specials board. Deserts are also highly recommended, provided you have room after your main. Actually, the option of a starter and desert is a good one as the starters are also substantial and delicious. Prices are extremely reasonable, too. You’re looking at around £12 for a main course, which is £7-8 less than I paid for a less tasty meal in a similar pub in the area that I visited last week.
The Bells is a Free House, meaning it’s not tied to any brewery but many people enjoy the fact that they serve Harveys. They also have very nice ciders – Inches is my favourite.
I find a pint of cider particularly refreshing served in the pub’s very large garden on a summer’s day (after that walk we mentioned). The garden is a must mention, filled with wooden tables and benches, and a marquee-covered area. Bands often play outdoors in the summer. Otherwise, you can enjoy the sound of the water feature in the raised fish pond.
There’s a great collection of old metal advertising signs both inside and surrounding the beer garden outside.
It’s a popular stop off for bikers and offers ample car parking, although if the car park is full – as it can be on busy weekends and music nights – there’s always the free village car park across the road. You’ll find many interesting dogs enjoying the beer garden with their owners. The only place dogs aren’t allowed to go is the Inglenook fireplace room which is the drain of the pub cat, the Mighty Quin.
You’re quite likely to see people bringing their horses to the pub with them, so don’t be surprised to see them nibbling the grass while their owners enjoy a meal or a pint. I don’t think horses are allowed in the Inglenook room either. They usually remain in the beer garden.
The pub is open every day from noon and stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate the live music.
The Six Bells, The Street, Chiddingly, BN8 6HT
Tel: 01825 872227
Visit this article for directions of a fabulous walk starting and ending at the pub