Following on from the huge success of a free guide to the heritage pubs of Sheffield, CAMRA has launched another free e-book, this time detailing heritage pubs in East Anglia.

The new guide covers the 63 pubs in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk with interiors of national or regional historic, or architectural importance plus a further 55 whose interiors are of some regional interest. These 118 pubs make up just two precent of the total pubs in the region.

Edited by Paul Ainsworth, the e-book is available for free as a downloadable PDF, or you can view the information on the website .

The guide includes colour pictures of all the pubs listed, plus information about the features which make them of such interest. Pubs are identified as either featuring on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Heritage Pubs, or on the local East Anglian heritage list.

In the guide, Paul Ainsworth writes: “Defending our traditional pubs has always been a key aim of CAMRA. Work to compile a National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors (NI) began in 1991 and the first actual list appeared in 1997, totalling 179 entries. It has since been continually refined and updated as, on the one hand, new candidates were discovered and, on the other, existing entries were closed or ruined. The total currently stands at over 250, of which just 12 are in East Anglia. There are two key criteria for inclusion. Firstly, the interior is largely unaltered since before 1945, though intact early post war pubs are also included (but are very rare). Secondly, the NI covers pubs with specific features or rooms of national significance. Our publication, Britain’s Best Real Heritage Pubs, describes the entries in some detail, as do the ‘long descriptions’ on the Pub Heritage website.

“[The Regional Inventories] were the next logical step. As would be expected, the bar for inclusion is set lower than for the NI though the same principles apply, with the emphasis on the internal fabric of the pub and what is authentically old within it. Forty three pubs of this standard can be found in East Anglia.

“A further category is pub interiors of Some Regional Interest. Although much altered, they will contain some historic features which may be of interest to visitors. 63 such pubs are briefly described in the guide.

“Why is [the East Anglian] figure so small? One reason, of course, is that pub interiors have always been subject to change. The only pubs which look now exactly as they did the day they opened are those which came into being very recently. However, the pace of change has certainly quickened. Most of our few remaining historic interiors evolved slowly over time and clung on to their most endearing features. Recent times have seen a mania for opening out, theming, image change and general trashing. As a result, many pubs suffer regular radical makeovers during which most, if not all, vestiges of original or old features disappear.

“The irony is that interest in historic buildings has never been greater. Many of us are fascinated by our built heritage and spend many an hour visiting old properties from stately homes through to the most vernacular of structures. All the sadder, then, that genuine pub interiors seem so under-valued by mainstream conservationists and that owners are often eager to tear them apart.”

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