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Secret Drinker reviews the Horse & Groom in Holbeach





I once asked a Spalding-based mate why the town’s night scene felt so quiet, to which they replied ‘because anyone after a good night goes to Holbeach’.

Before anyone starts getting all twitchy and territorial, it’s perhaps best to make it clear early on that this week’s column is not intended to be a vehicle to kick off an argument about which place does what best.

I’m sure the good people of South Holland have already lost too many evenings reading similar debates on Facebook.

The Horse & Groom in Holbeach
The Horse & Groom in Holbeach

But what I have observed from my experiences is that Holbeach is set up nicely for a night on the tiles.

Instead of having its pubs dotted about the place, you can find four venues waiting for you down one street.

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As we know too well, kettling revellers into one small area makes it far easier to bump into a friendly face, add some unexpected fun to the day and be convinced to stop for just one more (and on a rainy night when the taxi rank is closer than the nearest pub there’s more reason to dash next door than home).

Holbeach's Horse & Groom
Holbeach's Horse & Groom

Factor in the numerous brightly-lit kebab houses and the bookies and you have a ready made drinking strip (Glass Vegas?) for a good old-fashioned afternoon/evening pub crawl.

If you time it right, that is.

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In Holbeach early one evening, killing time before an appointment, I headed for the Red Lion, only to find it closed. As was nearby Ohana.

The old coaching inn had a modernised bar
The old coaching inn had a modernised bar

The Crown was open but I’d already decided to wander down to the Horse & Groom, a coaching inn built in the early 1800s which still offers food and rooms.

The old white paintjob is long gone and the stripped-back brick look makes the place appealing from the outside, while the nicely-lit noticeboard advertises the menu and upcoming live music by a band called Zabra.

Through the door, the imposing wooden beams offer a glimpse into the place’s history. In contrast, the modernised bar has plenty of popular options.

Always heartwarming to see a dartboard
Always heartwarming to see a dartboard

The early evening crowd mixed diners (the food smelled very, very good) with socialising couples and the after work crowd.

Around the bar – which was standing room only and seemed to be the place to be – one guy with plaster-splattered trousers seemed so excited to have clocked off for the day he couldn’t help but force out a continual, infectious laugh, much to the amusement of those around him.

I ordered a Guinness and took a look around the equine-themed walls. Black Velvet meets National Velvet.

It was a pint of Guinness for me
It was a pint of Guinness for me

With a name like the Horse & Groom it was obvious the place was going to have a certain decor, and it didn’t disappoint with figures and paintings of our fetlocked friends scattered across the place.

Traditional and homely would probably be how your Laurence Llewelyn-Bowens would describe the place, but it’s always heartwarming to see a dartboard hanging from the wall.

The gents were extremely clean and the urinals the lowest adult urinals I’ve ever had the pleasure of stooping for.

Whoah there, fella
Whoah there, fella

They almost caught me out, but thankfully this was a one-drink night.

Although busier than many towns for the early evening slot, I was grateful to see there was still plenty of tables available and took my seat to catch up with the day’s news on the big screen.

Nicely clean toilets, but with very low urinals
Nicely clean toilets, but with very low urinals

Slowly the room began to fill up as more drinkers filtered in but it was my time to leave, my attention caught by the kebab house opposite.

As I said, a town ready made for a night out.

The place obviously had an equine feel
The place obviously had an equine feel

THE HORSE & GROOM, 65 HIGH STREET, HOLBEACH, PE12 7ED.

DECOR: As I suggested, traditional. Nothing to excite me but, more importantly, nothing to offend me. 3/5

DRINK: I felt the urge for the good old favourite Guinness (ABC 4.2%). 3/5

PRICE: At £4.90 a pint it was neither here nor there. 3/5

ATMOSPHERE: Plenty of people about for the start of the evening, and a bloke who couldn’t stop laughing. 3/5

STAFF: The barmaid had the patience of a saint as the Guinness wasn’t playing ball, but she delivered a well-poured pint. 3/5

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Do you agree with the secret drinker or have any suggestions where he should go next? Email secretdrinker@lincsonline.co.uk or comment below.



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