Bods’s Guide to Pubs in Merton: The Princess of Wales
So it began. And it continued. We are here. Here in the final part of a small series I’ve cunningly called “Bods’s Guide to Pubs in Merton”.
The idea is that this is a series of posts about stuff that’s in walking distance of my house, and which I rate and recommend. It’s all mostly in Merton and Colliers Wood – two towns which basically merge into one and which no one really knows where they begin and end because they’re really ill-defined.
So with that said, this is Part 3. It’s time for royalty.
The Princess of Wales
98 Morden Rd, Merton, London, SW19 3BP
There’s no denying that the Sultan and The Traf are ale gems and lovely pubs, and there’s no doubt that I’m lucky to live near them both.
Yet ironically it’s in a third pub that I can normally be found. It’s the Princess.
On the face of it, there’s nothing hugely special about the Princess. It’s a Youngs pub, so doesn’t have a rare and ever changing range of ales – just Youngs Bitter (Ordinary), Youngs Special (Special) and a Young’s seasonal ale (Winter Warmer or St George’s Ale normally – the third handpump usually goes quiet in the summer as Young’s don’t really do a summer ale for some unknown reason).
It is, however, a cosy pub – which is ironic because it’s the largest of the three pubs I’m going to write about.
The pub itself is a sort of L shape, and split into three “rooms”. Turn right from the door and you’ll be in a rather distinct section with a dart board. The other two “rooms” go straight down from the door, leading to a garden at the end.
Along many of the walls are long seats, padded with material that’s slightly worse for wear and probably in need of being replaced, but comfy non-the-less. There’s plenty of tables, plenty of room. And no noise – there is a TV in the right part of the pub, but so rarely on you forget it’s there. The sound is just of friends talking and having a good time.
There’s food – simple and homemade. Burgers, chips, sandwiches, fish etc. Roasts in the winter on Sundays. Always something vegetarian – usually a veggie burger or lasange, but other things appear too. Deb’s giant burger does exactly what it says on the tin.
Of course, there is the slightly sinister looking portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales to contend with – but it’s easy enough to position yourself so you can avoid it. The pub was, for many years, called The Prince of Wales, but renamed in 1997.
On other walls are photos that featured heavily in many Young’s pubs for many years – the shots of the Queen Mum and Prince Charles pulling pints have been banished as many Young’s pubs have been refurbished, but their continued presence in the Princess is re-assuring.
It’s not just royalty that features – also present is a horsehoe from one of Youngs’s shirehorses and there’s a piece of glasswork above the bar which celebrates the pub’s link with the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon – the two pubs became twinned after a team of Horse Brass darts players visited a plethora of London pubs, and loved the Princess so much, they went back again. The two pubs have been linked ever since.
There’s also a book area, and a monthly quiz with all proceeds going towards the nearby Dean City Farm, where the pub sponsors some animals. Indeed, in the past, a pony and a nonchalant sheep have even visited the pub during a carol concert.
And that’s the kind of pub the Princess is. It doesn’t look special but it is special. It’s a good solid community pub which makes you feel warm and cosy when you visit it. I can still remember my first visit, perched at the end of the bar having just left the chaotic busy surroundings of a Sultan beer festival. I felt quite at home. And I have been ever since.
Coming soon… Bods’s guide to eating out in Merton. Soon. At some point. Probably.