The Baker Arms sits at the centre of Bayford, a small village half a mile west of its lonely railway station, south of Hertford and opposite the village pond. A popular stop for those out exploring the local countryside, the large garden at the rear offers a quiet and pleasant retreat and there is an area of play equipment for children. Inside there are two public areas – to the left, as you enter, a bar and to the right a restaurant. The pub offers accommodation and has five bedrooms. But today’s Baker Arms is much larger than when it opened, and when it was known as the Griffin. The building then comprised four cottages built in the early years of the 19th century, the pub occupying just one of them. Today the Grade II listed pub and hotel occupies the entire building.
Our picture postcard is from the early 20th century – spot the signboard over the third cottage (courtesy of Hertford Museum)
The pub is first mentioned in 1806 as just an alehouse – the Griffin – run by licensee John Sergeant. Along with the village it was in the ownership of the Baker family who lived at the nearby big house – Bayfordbury – they also held the manor. It continued as the Griffin until at least 1824 but by the mid-19th century it had adopted the family name. Henry Clinton Baker first leased the pub to McMullen’s in 1929 for £100p.a. but a sale to Mac’s was completed in 1946 and a full licence was granted a year later. The end cottage with the semi-circular window was added into the pub in 1985 as a saloon bar and the final two cottages were incorporated into pub use in 1992. The blocked carriageway is now part of the bar and houses a window but its former existence is still visible as an external feature.
Today’s pub, pictured left, is managed by Martin and Beverley Jackson, under leaseholder Franco Mutinelli. There is a quiz on the third (sometimes second) Thursday of the month and the pub offers a daily menu of locally sourced and home-made food with Wednesday curry nights and fish on Fridays, all available in the bar or in the restaurant. The fine reputation of the Baker Arms Sunday roast has spread far and wide – make sure you book a table to avoid disappointment. And whilst in the restaurant look out for the interesting framed diplomas of wartime milk production. In the bar there is a bank of three handpumps dispensing McMullen’s AK, Country and either IPA or a Mac’s guest ale. Prior to their arrival in Bayford, Martin and Beverley, now well into their third year at the Baker Arms, had previously spent many years in South Africa. Martin says “We really enjoy meeting with the people of the village and like to think of the pub as the local hub. The Post Office next door has long-since closed and there are no shops, so we are rare place for the villagers to meet in. Some of them work here too. We offer a warm welcome to everyone be they locals or visitors from further afield.”
The Baker Arms opens all day from noon to 11pm, closing at 6pm on Sundays. Food is available all day until 9pm each day except Sundays when the kitchen closes at 5pm. There is a car park to the rear and the pub is served by the sporadic Monday to Saturday daytime 308/380 bus service. Bayford station is less than a half a mile away on the Hertford North line.