The Seven Stars, Falmouth

Entering the Seven Stars, Falmouth.

By Bailey

I spent Saturday afternoon having a solo pootle (or was it a bimble?) around the pubs of Falmouth.

First on my hit list was the historic Seven Stars: even though Adrian Tierney-Jones raves about it, and even though we’ve been to Falmouth numerous times, we’ve never been inside.

You know those pubs that look ‘rough’ until you get close and see the ancient peeling Good Beer Guide stickers, and realise they’re just ‘eccentric’? That’s the Seven Stars. I headed for the narrow front bar because that’s where everyone seemed to be. I got a couple of nods of greeting, someone called me ‘boy’, and space was made for me at the bar.

On the back wall were several casks on stillage and I was torn between Bass (slowly becoming an obsession of ours) and Oakham Citra, but the desire for the whizz-bang-wow of the latter won out. Despite being served on gravity with no obvious cooling system, it was in damn near perfect nick.

As she served me, I asked the barmaid under my breath: ‘Where can I perch that I won’t be stealing anyone’s seat or be in the way?’ She looked around and replied cheerfully, ‘Sit where you like — they’ve had some Bass now, they should be OK.’ Should? What did that mean?

I shrank into a corner and pretended to read while eavesdropping and glancing around the bar. Politics were discussed, conspiracy theories about the missing Malaysian airliner shared, and affectionate insults traded. ‘Any chance of getting bloody drunk any time soon?’ shouted an enormous bloke waving an empty glass at the barmaid, who told him to calm down.

The walls were covered in photographs, trinkets and gewgaws evidently collected over the course of decades, faded by the light and stained with nicotine. I wanted to take a photo, but there was no ambiguity: mobile phones are STRICTLY forbidden. One was nailed to the wall just to underline the point.

I wasn’t, to be honest, quite comfortable. Elbows kept finding their way into my back, and I felt like a tourist. Not entirely reluctantly, I moved on after one pint.

But here’s a funny thing: four pubs later, I found myself thinking that I’d made a mistake. None of the others (Beerwolf, Five Degrees West, the Front and the Oddfellows Arms) had the depth of the Seven Stars, even though they were all good in their own way. The best pubs aren’t always the easiest.

There are more photos of Falmouth pubs in this gallery.

5 replies on “The Seven Stars, Falmouth”

Proper old CAMRA pub, by which I mean the kind of pub that CAMRA would (always) have written up as a proper old pub. If you lived in Falmouth you could go back every week for five years, and at the end of that time they’d probably have stopped elbowing you; after another five years you’d be taking visitors to ‘the pub’ with you and laughing at the look on their faces when you went in.

Socialising as an endurance test – it’s a fine old English tradition, but I’m not sure it’s one worth preserving. Also strikes me as a very male thing; I wonder what Boak would have made of the place.

The Seven Stars has some similarities in atmosphere to the Dolphin in Plymouth. There can be a fine line between characterful and rough pubs, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable in pubs like that in central, touristy locations where there’s an expectation of casual customers. Estate pubs, on the other hand…

Certainly agree with the first comment – first visits to these kinds of places are always odd, or at worst, hostile. But if it’s worth going back, and you do, then you’ll be ‘part of the gang’ in no time. I’ve wandered into dark, unwelcoming pubs on a few occasions, regretting it almost immediately, but then found that the urge to go back and try again is kind of addictive…

That’s well put, I also feel myself drawn back to slightly ropey pubs once I’ve survived one visit, even if the beer is awful etc.

It’s worth remembering that one reason regulars might be standoffish or seek to “test” newcomers is because they are really attached to their pub and don’t want it to change (in some cases they could also be ****s of course).

It would be terrible if all pubs were like this, and I welcome the fact that operators like Antic have made great strides in making the middle classes more comfortable in pub environments, but I’d personally like to see the “socialising as endurance” tradition carry on in at least some pubs – I find the rewards are greater once the effort is made!

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