Norwich – Arboretum

This combination of bar and antiques shop is perhaps as anomalous as any pub in Norwich, looking boarded up from the outside. We visited as part of CAMRA’s Friday Five, which meant a slight pressure on numbers as this bar only holds thirty people (it can technically hold sixty, but they like everyone to be able to get a seat, so self-restrict the numbers). The admission process was though monitored by a helpful staff member at the entrance, so there wasn’t too much of a wait to get in.

There are three parts to the pub, the first room which is the former shop area, the second room which is where the bar is located and a rear room which is a covered outside area. The current opening hours are a little limited, from 15.00 until 22.00 on Tuesdays to Saturdays, but they might be extending those in 2020.

This is the first room, looking like someone’s living room from the early twentieth century.


Everything, within reason, is for sale and there’s some sort of haggling process available for those who are interested in making a purchase.

The service at the bar from the owner was friendly and helpful, with the St. Peter’s Plum Porter being a reliable option and during our visit it was reduced to £3 for CAMRA members. The bar only sells beer in bottles, but the choice is well thought through, the staff member knowledgeable and the products are local.

I’m used to being served drinks in old beer festival glasses, but never in a 1953 Coronation glass….

This is the pub’s dog, which is either Dylan or Dillon, a glorious wolfhound who liked having a little wander around. I’m not sure what the other Dylan I know would think of this, he’d probably be quite impressed….

As someone else said, the bar has become a little bit of a hipster outlet, but that’s more because this is an on-trend and intriguing pub than for any forced reason. The speakeasy type of way of getting in all just adds to the experience and awe, making this one of the more interesting bars in the city. For any location to have no external advertising or branding is very brave, but it seems to work here.