The quiet little country inn, which is unfortunately passing away in favour of the more vulgar public house and pretentious gin palace, is essentially a cottage, some rooms of which are devoted to public use, while in many of the best of them a few bedrooms are reserved for casual travellers. An illustration of one, the Bull Ring Inn at North Shields (see Fig. 9), designed by Mr. F. R. N. Haswell, F.R.I.B.A., and planned in accordance with the old traditions, is, however, given. The whole of the front is devoted to a large open bar having window seats with tables arranged in front of them, and a fireplace at each end of the room, forming a kind of club, such as is essential in village life, at which the men can meet and chat of an evening while enjoying their smoke and a modest glass of beer. This, it will be noticed, is something quite different from a mere drinking saloon. The customers do not come in, drink, and go out again, but sit in the bar, perhaps for hours, using it as a meeting-place for discussion and general sociability. There is the bar counter, certainly, at which casual callers can be served, and a certain concession to modern requirements is made by screening off a small portion for jug and bottle trade, this being served from an entrance lobby or passage and not from the front door. The cellar flaps in the pavement in front and also in the floor behind the bar counter will be noticed, leading down in a primitive manner, the one by slides and the other by a step-ladder, to the cellar below. There is a block at the foot of the slides to receive the barrels as they are let down by ropes, and gantries or stands for the barrels are provided round the bar cellar. This being a small inn, the sale would be almost entirely of beer in some counties and cider in others, and scarcely at all of spirits or wines. At the back of the bar on the ground floor two sitting-rooms will be noticed, one of them being what is often called a bar parlour with seats round the walls, and standing tables where refreshments can be served, and the other, or best sitting-room, being also intended for guests. Both of them can be served from the space behind the bar counter, but the latter only has direct service from the kitchen upstairs, so that it alone could be used for meals. As a general rule the kitchens are found on the same floor, but with limited space it has been necessary in this case to place them on another level. The object aimed at in all buildings of this type is that of cosy comfort, representing home-life on a larger scale, and in fact many of the older country inns have a combined kitchen and bar in which the family live, while all cooking is done in view of the guests. After what has been said in previous volumes about the planning of country houses and cottages it is not perhaps necessary to enlarge upon this aspect of the matter.

Inns And Public Houses 11

Fig. 9.

Another cleverly planned little inn is "The Chequers" at Felstead, designed by Messrs. C. & W. H. Pertwee (Fig. 10). The public portion is differentiated from the parlours in which meals would be served, a passage-way passing between, while the kitchens also are distinct, and the serving bar is so placed as to give convenient access to public bar, taproom, and bar parlour, with a beer cellar on the same floor, approached from the back and arranged in very small compass. The plan is worth a good deal of study, the exceedingly comfortable taproom being a particularly noticeable feature, so placed as to be of an unusually private character.

Much more pretentious are the modern inns, which are replacing those of the above-mentioned type in many a country village and in the suburbs of the larger towns. These new buildings are often dignified by the name of hotel, though they scarcely deserve it, as this title ought to be reserved for buildings which provide mainly for persons who stay in them for the night and so use them as temporary homes. A typical example is the Crown Hotel at Dulwich (Fig. 11), designed by Messrs. Eedle & Meyers, MM.S.A. There is some slight attempt in it, though not a great one, to introduce a sense of comfort similar to that so noticeable in the old country inn, while the somewhat rare adjunct of a skittle alley is added, as well as the more modern features of a large billiard-room and a complete suite of rooms for the meetings of a Masonic Lodge. On the ground floor the bar of the public-house is replaced by the saloon bar of the gin palace, the open seats and bar counter suggesting its use for drinking purposes rather than as a club or meeting place, while the coffee-room, so called, which opens out of it, is intended for the service of solid refreshments, having lifts in one corner, by means of which the kitchen on the second floor can be reached directly. The impression given by the plan is that the bar would be served by barmaids and the coffee-room by waiters in evening dress, replacing the old attendants of the public-house with coats off and sleeves tucked up. This portion of the building is carefully divided off as for the better class of customer, and out of the saloon bar the large billiard-room with its top light is immediately reached, while there is also a means of access to the first floor. Small bars, set apart for the lower class of customer and for a jug-and-bottle trade, are controlled from the same serving counter and serving bar, the planning of which is managed with great skill. There is a private bar which can be reached by a side entrance as well as from the secondary lobby, and at the back there is a bar parlour for more occasional visitors and extreme privacy. The staircase at this end of the building is for the use of the staff and for the few persons who might utilise the house for sleeping purposes, as on the first floor it serves a sitting-room and bedroom together, with a spirit-room off the half-landing, this being obtained over the little washing scullery for cleaning the pots.