A Pint at The Local #20 Chequers Inn, Wareside

Written by Les Middlewood

A scan through back copies of Pints of View and its predecessors quickly confirms that, in Hertfordshire, the Chequers Inn has one of the longest pedigrees in supporting new local brewers. In 1982 it was Ware’s Victoria and Lilley’s Mickles breweries, in 2000 it was Green Tye brewery and a pub-badged beer brewed by Dark Horse of Hertford, then followed Buntingford brewery and now it’s the beers from the Hadham brewery. Not a bad tradition at all for a pub in Wareside, a village close to the River Ash and with its own famous tradition of treacle mining.

The Chequers dates at least back to 1756 when Victuallers Billeting records show that the pub, then known as the Chequer and Bowl had stabling for 4 horses. Losing its “Bowl” in the 19th century, the building is now Grade II listed – of late 17thC timber-framed construction with later alterations and improvements but still displaying exposed timbers and other period features. It became part of the Hawkes tied estate, brewers of Bishop’s Stortford, who were founded in 1780 but were sold to Benskins in 1898. In 1957 Benskins sold out to Ind Coope who, now as part of Allied Breweries, sold the Chequers as a Free house in 1978, when Everard’s Tiger could be enjoyed in the pub for 48p per pint.

In the distance the Chequers in an early 20thC photo courtesy of Hertford Museum’s on-line photographic archive. https://www.hertfordmuseumimages.org

In the pub a further picture, dated c1878, clearly shows the Hawkes brewery livery on the panel above the front door.

Matilda Faint was a landlady who commanded the bar for over 40 years in the second half of the 19thC but today’s owner, Douglas Cook and his family have now amassed over 26 years of their own – and they’re still counting. Landlord Doug says “We’re a traditional village boozer, without piped music and TV but full of conversation, fun and local networking.” Landlady Julie added “People sometimes comment that our rooms have a front-room atmosphere”. In the pandemic lockdown the pub opened a grocery shop with Doug baking bread and making biscuits. It also offered real ale takeaways. These excellent efforts were not missed by Herts & Essex Borders Branch who presented the pub a Real Ale Heroes award.

Today the pub offers three cask beers – always Hadham’s Treacle Mine IPA plus two changing guest ales. The pub has appeared in 30 editions of the Good Beer Guide. There are four characterful rooms, one with a log fire and one which has become popular for family get togethers. Outside there are tables to the side on an area of decking and also at the front adjacent to the road. The pub is open from 12-3pm and 6-11pm Monday to Saturday, 12-10.30pm on Sundays. Good traditional pub food is available 12-2pm; 6-8.30pm Monday to Saturday and 12-3pm; 6-8pm Sundays. Cask beer and cooked meals are also available for takeaway. There are five traditional ciders, from various producers and in the back bar you will find a surprisingly large library of books, all free, on a take one, bring one basis. The pub is dog-friendly.

The Chequers (car park to the rear) can be found in the centre of Wareside, on the B1004, a pleasant rural road that connects Ware with Widford and Much Hadham. Passenger trains may have deserted the village in 1964 but the nearby former track bed forms a lovely footpath or cycle path that stretches a couple of miles. The M3 and M4 buses offer a limited service, running a circular route to and from Ware railway station, Mondays to Saturday.

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