We present the latest review from our Chief Tavern Correspondent; this week he casts his eye over The Tucker’s Grave of Somerset.T he Tucker’s has been bloodily overseeing this desolate crossroads in deepest, backwardest Somerset for as long as anyone cares to remember. Catch it on a wet winters afternoon, and you may be forgiven for mistaking it for the Slaughtered Lamb, but it’s somewhat sombre exterior gives little clue to the warm and welcoming gem of a pub housed within. Landlady Glenda Swift has held court here for nearly 40 years and upon recently closing to enjoy her retirement, realised she missed the pub so much she reopened it to the delight of her many devotees both near and far.
The inside of this pub has not been altered from the basic layout which once would have been commonplace in countless small rural pubs. A central corridor runs right through the middle of the building from the imposing front door to the back yard, the Tap Room is on the right with a few settles and a fireplace, servery on the left with further plain seating. No bar, Beer and rough cider racked in the window. That’s it. The only changes to upset the slow procession of this venerated recipe was in the 1980s when Glenda, tired of people sitting in her adjoining living room when the pub was busy, finally wheeled her old Tele and easy chairs upstairs and gave this room over to public use. As a further sop to modernity and monetarism, Glenda has also recently installed a new till.
Historically, the really interesting bit of the pub is the Tap Room with its rustic built in seating, scrub top tables and wood burning stove; a vision of how so many honest drinking houses must have been before the brutish forces of modernity swept them away in a tide of swirly carpet, Larger and repro horse brasses. It is, though, the central servery which gives the Tucker’s its beating heart. One long, narrow oak table with built-in seating down each wall forces friends, strangers, tourists and even celebrities* to look up from their drink and actually talk to their fellow pub-goers; a tragically uncommon occurrence in many of the vandalised pubs of today who drown conversation under a tide of ill-fitting music and blaring games machines.
In this quirky, unfashionable backwater of the world though, the Tucker’s reverberates solely to the gentle chatter of the local custom in that peaceful Somerset twang, interspersed with the clipped accents of those from further afield out on safari. The wonderfully antiquated outside toilets also feature, especially in the depths of winter, when it has been known for both water pipe and cistern to freeze solid.
I have witnessed countless good evenings and lazy sunny afternoons in this fine old tavern and in this correspondents considered opinion, such a thing as genuine contentment can be reached sat in the Tucker’s Grave with a pint of rough cider, while the lulling hubbub of conversation washes effortlessly around you. This is a place everyone should experience at least once, and which ought to be experienced often.
* The Stranglers of ‘Golden Brown’ fame take cider here, as do many of the Soho House set; notably a stately chap by the name of Jagger whom Glenda tells us, is rather quiet and owns a very shabby hat.