Bit of a poseur, Prince Rupert. When he wasn’t cutting a swathe through the battlefields of the English Civil War, he sat patiently for painters. In fact, portraits of him adorn the walls in one of three handsomely restored upstairs rooms in the pub named after him.
There’s an abundance of exposed beams, as well as doorways that demand a deferential bow. “Mind your head,” notices are plentiful – a subconscious reminder that Rupert managed to keep his on his shoulders throughout those strife-filled times.
Sited in a narrow street off Newark’s Market Place, the building dates back to 1452 and once provided stabling for Rupe’s horses, according to Roger Protz’s new book, Historic Coaching Inns of the Great North Road.
This particular historic coaching inn had become a standard John Smith’s boozer known as the Woolpack. It closed in 2010, only to reopen again after considerable investment from a local farmer, one Michael Philby. Downstairs, rooms open to right and left off a flagstone-floored passageway. More exposed beams and open fireplaces, too.
Scrubbed wooden tables are laden with fine food and abundant ales ordered from a bar with six hand pumps
Scrubbed wooden tables are laden with fine food and abundant ales ordered from a bar with six hand pumps. Four dispense an ever-changing range of guest cask beers; of the two regulars I try Oakham Ales's JHB, the dry and hoppy finish an ideal tastebud-sharpener for an imaginative, pizza-centric menu.
I eventually settle for the jaw-stretching Merguez lamb burger, infused with North African spices and served with well-browned “Cajun-style” sweet potato fries. To see off such a tongue-tingler there could be nothing better than the pub’s other regular ale. The Rev James has come from distant Cardiff, bringing with him plenty of backbone and a bitter edge to see off that somewhat sugary exterior.
My wife has selflessly agreed to drive us back some distance down the Great North Road. At least she’s got to enliven her sparkling water with a lovingly prepared beef Wellington. The temptations of an extensive wine list will have to wait, along with a gin menu to put The Archers’ Toby Fairbrother to shame. Not easy.
46 Stodman Street, Newark, Notts NG24 1AW
01636 918121; kneadpubs.co.uk