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Published February 21st 2013
The New Inn was new in 1756, now it is a much older inn
The New Inn is a bit of an oxymoron as it was built in 1756, but replaced the White Hart, another hostelry that had been constructed in 1642. Between 1780 and 1822 it was known as the Hobart Arms, in honour of local resident the Honourable George Hobart. It sits on Ham Common, between Richmond and Kingston and reminds you of the village that Ham once was; there are several other pubs and churches nearby, all prerequisites of the quintessential English village.
Outside the New Inn
Back in the days when it was just a coaching inn it could always proudly boast of at least one ostler. Those days are now long gone, but it is still animal friendly and welcomes dogs and children. When I visited there was a young boy seated at a window table, enjoying lunch with his dad and playing board games, and I was also almost loved to death by an extremely friendly brown Labrador puppy called Nellie.
The pub remains much as it would have been two hundred and fifty years ago; the oak panelling and wooden beams are still in situ, although the embossed wallpaper is probably more recent and harks back to the nineteenth century. If you visit during the winter months, the inglenook fireplace, complete with cast iron fire dogs and other accessories, provides a cosy focal point.
The New Inn Inglenook Fireplace
The smell of food sharpened my already hungry taste buds when I arrived yesterday. The menu is extensive enough for a pub and offers starters, sharing plates, main courses, desserts, sandwiches and jacket potatoes. Most dishes, including sarnies, are garnished with salad and/or chips and everything is freshly prepared and cooked to order. The New Inn does not buy in and reheat in the microwave, which probably explains the slightly higher prices. In addition to the regular dishes, there are daily specials chalked on the blackboard over the fireplace.
I was warned that my meal would take about 15 minutes to prepare, but it was worth it when it arrived; a succulent, juicy supreme of chicken resting on a bed of lentils with a minty yogurt dressing, and garnished with a crispy slice of pancetta.
Chicken Supreme at the New Inn
My mum enjoyed her scampi and proclaimed that the chips were the best she had eaten in a long time.
Scampi and Chips at the New Inn
We continued to pig out with a shared portion of coffee walnut cake and cream; I was informed that these are all home-made.
Coffee Walnut Cake and Cream at the New Inn
You can wash your food down with a choice of wines and beers, including real ales.
The pub offers high chairs for children, roasts on Sundays, vegetarian dishes and an outside garden area. Opening hours are from 11am to 11pm daily, except Sunday when the hours are noon to 10.30pm. Don't visit if you like noisy bars with loud music or Sky Sports on the telly, but you would be most welcome if you're looking for peace and quiet, friendly locals and a traditional cosy atmosphere with yummy home cooked food. It would be a perfect venue for a family meal, or a Mothers' Day lunch.