Friday, 14 June 2013

Once a “House” of Repute in Sussex – The Crabtree Inn, Lancing

The Crabtree Inn dates from 1931, newly built to serve the housing estate to the north west of the town that sprawls into Cokeham and Sompting. The construction date, as is often the case with the Kemp Town Brewery, is on a rainwater pipe head - at the left of the building. I have no original plans or confirmation of the architect but it is probably by J. L. Denman and Son. The two flanking brick wings with parapet and the neo-Georgian classical doorways with pediment and pilasters are hallmark KTB. The style is somewhat understated and vernacular but consistent with another Denman-designed suburban estate new-build, the Dolphin, East Worthing, where the concave layout is the converse of that found here at the Crabtree.

The interior retains many striking features. The recently refurbished ‘Spitfire’ saloon bar on the right has an original counter, elegant cupola ceiling, a fine brick and stone Tudor-style fireplace, and half-height panelling. There are teak floorboards and fixed cushioned seating. The pub’s middle snug was long ago combined with a left-side public bar at the point where the off-sales was probably situated. Here is another original counter, field panelling and fixed seating. The back fittings to each bar have been replaced. Admire the craftsmanship in the decorative plasterwork mouldings on the frieze, cornice and capitals in both rooms.

Without the architect’s plans one can only surmise, but the left hand door probably led to both the left side bar and a Jug & Bottle. The defunct counter to what was the left bar is now stranded in the middle of the room, oddly with panelling on both sides. The middle snug may therefore have been entered by a central doorway, now replaced by the projecting window bay.

The Crabtree is Good Beer Guide-listed and always offers Fuller’s London Pride plus a fine selection of three ever-changing guest ales that are served in top condition by the manager, Brian Lamb. The Crabtree also offers its trademark Sunday Carvery. The chef slow-roasts joints of beef, turkey, lamb and pork overnight, resulting in the most succulent and fresh Carvery probably anywhere in the south. The pub has also created a menu designed to fill the demand for good home-cooked pub food at an affordable price. Food is served daily Monday to Saturday from 12noon to 3.00pm and evenings Tuesday to Friday 5.30 to 7.30pm. The Crabtree Inn, 140 Crabtree Lane, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9NQ; tel: 01903 755514.

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