‘Back to front’ Chailey pub wins CAMRA vote

THE Horns Lodge at South Chailey has been acclaimed as the Country Pub of the Year for 2011.

The former coaching inn was voted for by members of the Brighton and South Downs branch of the CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale.

Branch chairman Roger Cotton presented the award at the free house.

Proud landlord Mike Lethem said: “My wife Linda and I were thrilled when we found out that we had won the award.

“We have been at The Horns Lodge for three years and as newcomers to the trade it means a lot to know that people appreciate all the hard work involved in running the pub.

“We specialise in a changing range of real ales, mainly from small micro-breweries, and the customers seem to like the fact that there is always something new and different.”

The first records of the traditional rural pub date from 1713 when it was described as an ale house adjoining two cottages, but it is thought to be about 50 years older than this date.

The Horns Lodge is unusual in bring a “back to front” hostelry. It used to face Green Lane, which was the main road through the village, but in 1703 a Mr Norman set up business to manufacture bricks from the large band of Sussex clay that runs across what was called South Common.

As time went by it became clear that the ‘old road’ was in the way so the new road, South Street, was constructed and the back of the pub became the front.

The old pub sign depicted an unfortunate hunter lodged on the antlers of a stag, but this was misleading. The ale house became horse changing stop on the postal stagecoach route between London and Brighton. It acquired the name Horns Lodge with reference to the post horn that the coaches used.