The Brigadoon Pub in Greenwich

Ashburnham Arms

I first visited the Ashburnham Arms in Greenwich’s Ashburnham triangle about 17 years ago, and it’s been lost to me ever since.

I was tak­en then by my flat­mate, a Green­wich native, who had heard that the pub had won some award or oth­er. I seem to recall it took us a while to find that time, too.

Lon­don streets rarely run in straight lines so two roads that seem to run at right angles can slow­ly curve to meet, while what feel like par­al­lel lines can turn out to be sub­tly angled spokes off a hub. At the same time, the hous­es are made of the same Lon­don stock brick, to sim­i­lar designs, deny­ing the wan­der­er the nec­es­sary points of ref­er­ence.

Even as you draw near, the Ash­burn­ham can be hard to spot, its sig­nage hid­den behind shrubs, and its exte­ri­or oth­er­wise resem­bling the grand 19th cen­tu­ry hous­es that sur­round it.

Which, of course, makes it all the more charm­ing – a kind of secret reserved for locals, not tourists.

So secret that when I’ve tried to return, I’ve failed, pop­ping out in Green­wich Park, or on the high street, or in Dept­ford, thirsty and scratch­ing my head.

Of course Google Maps spoils the fun. This time, I walked straight there with only a bare min­i­mum of con­fu­sion and back-track­ing.

It was much as I remem­bered it – mul­ti-roomed, just; mod­ernised, a bit; respectable, but not posh; friend­ly, with­out over­do­ing it.

It’s a Shep­herd Neame pub and this time the only cask bit­ter on offer was Mas­ter Brew, their ‘ordi­nary’. It cost some­where north of £4 a pint but tast­ed extra­or­di­nar­i­ly good – light, bright, and snap­ping with earthy, vivid, tea-like hop char­ac­ter.

I sat in a cor­ner with my book and enjoyed the atmos­phere. Out­side, intense sun­light tem­pered by a breeze that car­ried the smell of the city and the jan­gle of ice cream vans through the open door; inside, the mur­mur of soft Lon­don accents, the sis­ter­ly chat of the bar staff, and the rustling of news­pa­per pages, all wrapped up in warm wood and scent­ed with fur­ni­ture pol­ish.

As din­ner ser­vice fin­ished bowls of crisp, salty left­over roast pota­toes were dis­trib­uted around the pub – a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of unpre­ten­tious hos­pi­tal­i­ty.

I had to stop for a sec­ond pint, did­n’t I? After all, I might nev­er find the Ash­burn­ham again.

2 thoughts on “The Brigadoon Pub in Greenwich”

  1. Mas­ter Brew is a love­ly pint in the right envi­ron­ment. I won­der why so many brew­ers insist on pro­mot­ing their “pre­mi­um” bit­ter as their flag­ship, when often the ordi­nary bit­ter is nicer.

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