Behind our table at The Bull Ditchling, in East Sussex, is some contemporary artwork depicting famous people.
There’s Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn looking suitably regal, and then there’s the Queen — with blooded tears pouring from her eyes. Poor thing. It looks especially apposite as the country bobs about in uncharted waters.
Come to think of it, our table is bobbing about, too, and it takes four beer mats to stablise it.
The Bull Ditchling is a 16th-century, privately owned inn located 15 minutes from Brighton
But everything else is perfectly relaxed at this 16th-century, privately owned inn some 15 minutes from Brighton. And the mood is upbeat. ‘We’ve just been voted best pub for 2019,’ says the friendly person who greets us on arrival.
There are eight rooms. Ours is small, but there’s a lot going on: wood panelling behind the bed; a small silver cupboard that opens like an upright suitcase and has four shelves in it; a Roberts radio; binoculars (not sure why); and two wooden dumbbells (bizarre).
My wife says the room looks like a display from interiors brand Loaf. ‘But you’ve never been inside a Loaf shop,’ I tell her.
Downstairs, the bar is dark and moody, but an additional eating area has a Scandi feel to it, and, on the night we are there, the two fair-skinned, blonde waitresses look like they’ve just popped over from Sweden. They’re a little sleepy — we order drinks, but end up retrieving them ourselves from the bar, including a pint of Bedlam courtesy of The Bull’s own brewery.
Pictured is one of the bedrooms. The Inspector was puzzled by the binoculars and wooden dumbbells in his room
Apparently, all the energy required for the brew house comes from solar panels, and the brewery plants and harvests its own hops. Nice touch. Spent grain and hops are given free to local farmers. Very nice touch.
The prices are reasonable. My whole partridge costs £18. Only the 8oz rib-eye is above £20.
Plenty of locals have wandered in — though there’s no sign of Zoe Ball, who lives round the corner, Dame Vera Lynn, who’s within walking distance, or Piers Morgan, who has a house nearby.
Zoe, Vera and Piers. A good mix, and all would feel completely at home here.
The Bull Ditchling, 2 High Street, Ditchling, East Sussex, BN6 8TA. Doubles from £105. For more information call 01273 843147 or visit thebullditchling.com.