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Archive for October 3rd, 2010

Turf Tavern, Oxford – a “heart-warming oasis”

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The Turf offers an education in intoxication

One of my favourite pubs in Oxford has been dubbed as a “heart-warming oasis and named Britain’s town pub of the year by the Good Pub Guide 2011.

The Turf is a historic pub located just outside the Oxford city walls. It is a village pub in the heart of a city. With foundations dating back to the 14th century, its city centre location makes it a favourite for both town and gown. The Turf is probably Oxford’s oldest pub. The current timbered front part is seventeenth century when it was progressively a malthouse, a cider house and finally an inn (circa 1790), called the Spotted Cow. It was renamed the Turf Tavern in 1805 and thus it remains to the present. The pub has been frequented by the fictional character Inspector Morse and President Bill Clinton, and some would claim that it is the “obscure and low-beamed tavern up a court” visited by Jude Fawley in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure – although this pub is later referred to as the Lamb and Flag.

The Turf is owned and managed by Greene King and even though its corporate hand has clearly touched the pub, it is to their credit that it has such a free-wheeling atmosphere and a wide variety of ales from many brewers.

Hard to find, the Turf is worth the search

There must be an art in finding the Turf, which is seemingly hidden away down labyrinthine alleys in the heart of Oxford’s ancient colleges. The inside is low beamed and quirky at the front – leading through to a clutter of small rooms. The outside of the pub seems bigger than the inside for it comprises several twisting passageways and courtyards covered in awnings, which are warmed in the evenings by heaters. Here students, tourists and locals sit, stand and vie for space in this busy pub.

Yes it does get crowded, yes it is very popular, yes the wait at the bar can seem too long and yes sometimes the staff are almost overwhelmed, but even the most perfect pearl has imperfections. But, as one student says to a friend as he walks into the bar, “doesn’t this place make you want to have a pint, it’s just perfect”.

The Turf is popular with students, tourists and locals

Turf Tavern, 7 Bath Place, Oxford

01865 243235


Written by timhampson

October 3, 2010 at 10:22 am