Family-run William Cobbett pub bids to become News & Mail's Pub of the Year 2013
As the birth place of one of Farnham’s most famous historical figures, the William Cobbett pub is definitely not one to be missed.
The family-run inn is proud to call itself the former home of the writer and radical, William Cobbett, who was born upstairs on March 9 in 1763.
The pub in Bridge Square was once known as the Jolly Farmer, in reference to Cobbett’s own father back in the 1760s, and was renamed in honour of the writer in the 1970s.
For the last 29 years, the William Cobbett has been owned by the Rolfe family.
Husband and wife Peter and Shirley Rolfe took over the business, but after Peter died three years ago his wife began to struggle and the pub was not making enough of a profit.
Her children James and Jess stepped in to help a year ago and the pub is now once again flourishing under the family management and making a bid for the News & Mail Pub of the Year 2013 title.
“I love it here now,” Jess said. “I used to work in marketing and was in an office for six years but I would never want to go back to that.
“It’s a totally different lifestyle here."
“We are a fun, friendly and welcoming pub,” the 27-year-old added. “I think what makes us different is that we really do cater to everyone – we serve the builders during the day, the young professionals after work, students during term time, and we look after families and children too.”
She said it is a traditional pub with four guest ales, two draft ciders and eight draft lagers.
“Our food is pub grub with a Tex-Mex twist – we do nachos and burgers which are really popular,” she added.
There is a bust of Cobbett at the saloon bar, and the family try to keep the pub looking as authentic as possible.
“We celebrate the birth of William Cobbett every year,” Jess said. “And we are planning an Octoberfest and a Caribbean evening at the moment.
“We keep postcards and pamphlets all about Cobbett behind the bar so that if anyone asks to learn more they can have a look and find out. A lot of the pub is still very traditional as well, we have some lovely exposed woodwork which dates back to the 1600s.”
The pub does its bit for the community by fundraising all year round for the Farnham Phyllis Tuckwell hospice and for the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, which cared for Peter.
William Cobbett himself is now best remembered for Rural Rides, a book hastily put together in 1832 as an account of a series of journeys in southern England as the countryside was changing permanently.
It has a polemical edge but the book tends to be viewed as a loving, exact account of the English countryside. A year later Cobbett became an MP.
“He did ruffle a few feathers,” Jess said. “But he was an educated man who fought for the common man, almost like an early Labour politician.”