ALE December 2004/January 2005 No. 315 : Next section

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Unique Pubs of East Anglia

Number 3: The Nutshell, Bury St Edmunds

If you claim to be the biggest, oldest or smallest of anything, you can be sure not to be alone. In my time I've visited three pubs which claimed to be the smallest in Britain. The Smith's Arms, Godmonstone, Dorset probably was the smallest but closed in 1999. The Lakeside in Southport is certainly titchy but relatively spacious compared to The Nutshell, now officially recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as our tiniest hostelry.

The Nutshell is in The Traverse, itself in the heart of this immensely attractive Suffolk town. The bar area measures just over 100 square feet which means that any more than 12 customers and things are getting decidedly cosy. Places like this always attract would-be record breakers (c.f. the snug in Cambridge's Free Press) and on one occasion 102 people plus a dog squeezed in (and lived).

The pub is packed with suitable memorabilia such as (supposedly) the world's smallest dart board and snooker table and a micro-copy of The Times. On a more macabre note, the remains of a mummified cat are on display - in crueller times they were often left to die in the wall spaces of houses to ward off evil spirits.

The landlord recently applied to the Council for a Street Café Permit to put tables and chairs on the pavement outside, saying that the business would not be viable without this extra trading area. A "Save the Nutshell" petition signed by 1500 people accompanied the application. The first application, for six tables, was turned down but a second, for two tables and four chairs was agreed. However - horror, horror - drinks must be served in plastic glasses!

Anyway, plastics or not, this will hopefully help this wonderful little pub survive. Like the majority of pubs in Bury, it's owned by the local brewery Greene King, and serves their IPA and Abbot. Not surprisingly there is no food.

Paul Ainsworth

ALE December 2004/January 2005 No. 315 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA