An Inspector Calls At… The George and Dragon, in Clifton,
PUBLISHED: 17:33, 27 December 2013
Friends who live near Penrith have been going on about the George & Dragon for yonks.
‘It’s the only place like it,’ said Nicky, who grew up nearby. By which she meant it is the only pub in the area dishing up posh food, with slate floors, duck-egg tongue and groove panelling, plus a few rooms (there are 12 here) upstairs with trendy roll-top baths and flat-screen TVs.
The rest of Cumbria’s hoteliers might have something to say about such a sweeping generalisation. But, for sure, the George & Dragon, in the village of Clifton, is a corker. In fact, our dinner was one of the best we’ve had in a long time, served by intelligent, friendly staff who don’t just speak English but actually come from England.
No disrespect to our east European comrades but it does make a difference when you ask for mustard and aren’t met with blank expressions as if you’re the one who’s out of sorts.
There’s lots of style here – and some history, too. Clifton is where the last battle on English soil took place in 1745 involving Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s Jacobite army and the Duke of Cumberland’s Hanoverian forces.
The George & Dragon is owned by Charles Lowther, younger son of the 7th Earl of Lonsdale (whose ancestor gave boxing its famous Lonsdale belt).
Most of the meat and veg comes from the estate and there are lots of pictures of prized Shorthorn cattle.
Our tiny room was reached via a stone staircase and faced the front of the building. Which meant you could see and hear the M6. And the noise as soon as we used the shower or flushed the loo was alarming even though a sign explained that this was caused by the pumping of water into the building.
Size doesn’t always matter but it did here. There wasn’t even a chair and certainly no desk in the room. So we sat and read the papers near a wood burner in the bar.
By 6.30pm locals were pouring in wanting to be fed and watered – and being turned away.
We liked the atmosphere. We especially liked the wooden church chairs in the dining-room, the killen rugs, the reasonably priced wine.
At breakfast, the field mushrooms tasted as if the chef had picked them on this way in. I called my friends before leaving and told them they’re lucky to have the George & Dragon on their doorstep.
‘Don’t write about it,’ Nicky said. ‘It’s hard enough already to get a table at weekends.’