The Hand In Hand… one of the best “village” pubs in London

BILL LACY

For a few years I resented being asked for ID when I walked into a pub, but when I stopped being asked I felt a little despondent because it meant I didn’t look young anymore.

I’m not sure such mixed feelings will exist in one person when it comes vaccine certificates, the possible new requirement for entry to pubs.

It has already divided opinion, and industry voices such as Shepherd Neame have already come out of the traps to say they won’t insist on one.

Perhaps leaving the decision to individual pubs will be the compromise. There are some pubs where it would seem especially absurd to insist on a certificate.

What may make more sense for crowded town-centre “vertical drinking establishments” seems out of place for spacious, country pubs. But there are no country pubs in the urban sprawl of London? Wrong.

One such place is The Hand in Hand, a glorious alehouse on the edge of Wimbledon Common.

The Hand in Hand SW19 4RQ.

If you’re walking there from the railway station it’s a bit of an uphill trek, but worth it.

For me, this is one of the best “village” pubs in London.

This is where I start getting punctilious. Yes, this is in Wimbledon Village, the leafiest part of Wimbledon regularly featuring in those lists about the most desirable places to live, but it’s in the borough of Merton, so it counts as London, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

One would have to be extraordinarily wealthy for this to be their local, so it’s almost a special destination pub by default.

I knew a bloke who used to cycle there. Fortuitously, I happened to be at an event nearby, which Google Maps told me was only three minutes away from this pub.

The stars aligned. One of the impressive interiors I’ve been in for years, it almost has a restaurant feel to it, but not in that formal way that would put off those whose agenda is a few pints.

My favourite feature was the old bakery area, kept over from a previous incarnation. I had a couple of pints of possibly perfect Young’s London Special.

I usually like to hang out at the bar, being pulled into conversations with strangers (the pub is possibly the only place in which this is not suspicious behaviour), but here one must sit down and take it all in.

I didn’t want to leave, so I nipped back in here after my event in time for last orders.

The Hand in Hand is opening on April 12 for outdoor service.

The only certificates I want to see are from CAMRA, Cask Marque or the one recognising it as London’s most dog-friendly pub!

The Hand in Hand, 7 Crooked Billet, SW19 4RQ.

 


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