DARDISTON EL BARUKSEY, SAINT,
Hand-in-Hand, Wimbledon Common, S.W.19
I FELT that I would like to visit a pub that was on the map of
Wimbledon long before tennis enthusiasts fondly and eroneously
imagined that their game put it there.
According to rumour, which is so very often well founded, there
was a lovely old inn that looked rather like a cottage called The
Hand-in-Hand. It was added that it was renowned for the quality
of its beer drawn from the wood, and that it stood on the edge
of the Common even in the days when Wimbledon was a village.
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Rumour, I soon discovered, was right. Indeed, almost before
I started I was much cheered by the remark of a bus inspector,
who seemed to know a thing or two. When I asked him the way,
he replied agreeably: “Why””-yes, sir. A lovely old boozer. Go
as far as the War Memorial, turn left down the Green, and you’ll
ﬁnd it at the bottom on the right, and you’ll get the ﬁnest drop of
beer you’ve ever tasted.”
And he was undeniably right in all the wisdom that dropped
from his doubtless thirsty lips. Even the name is just right, for
there is a friendly hand for all who enter this pleasant house.
Even the darts club proves its comradeship, being awarded by
popular vote the Dart League “Good Sportsmanship” Cup.
Hand-in-Hand, Wimbledon Common
The building has stood so far for two hundred years, and it
seems good for many,_ many more. But only for the last ﬁlty years
has it been licensed for beer. It’s that comparatively rare pheno-‘
menon””a free house, a description that does, to the uninitiated,
suggest an agreeable double mtendre, but you soon ﬁnd, out hoiw
wrong you were.
Prior to its birth as a house for good beer it was, curiously
enough, a bakery, and the surrounding families were wont to bring
along their joints to be put in the ovens.
The beer of The Hand-in-Hand has been spoken of with the
highest respect and a,selection by American troops ever since the
ﬁrst World War. It was then and in the following World War a
favourite spot for Americans who seem to be fully able to enjoy
good beer. They much admired, too, the beautifully carved antique
chair that was and still is in the bar.
Dardiston el Baruksey – The Afghan Hound
But the desire for good beer is not conﬁned to humans. There
is a certain horse belonging to a coal company in the district who
refuses to pass the house without his pint. The landlord has to open
the gate, the driver has to unharness the animal, and Dobbin
enters to partake of his pint before consenting. to get on with his
work. The driver now refuses to go anywhere near The Hand-in-
Hand. . . .
Still another conﬁrmation that beer is best comes from a neigh-
bouring nursing home, which orders a regular supply for the patients.
Dardi is an Afghan hound, and her girl friend is Saint, an
Alsatian. Mine Host, apart from brewing the right beer, knows
how to breed and keep the right kind of dog. At the moment,
Afghans and Alsatians are his speciality. Being a great dog lover,
he has owned pretty well every breed of dog in his time. The
family have owned, in all, one hundred and twenty dogs”but
not (I hasten to add) at the same time.
The Afghan is as useful a breed as he is handsome. He is
hardly what you would call a popular breed as yet””due perhaps,
to the fact that he requires a good deal of attention in the way
of grooming to keep him up to standard.
Dardi is three years old, and has already proved to be a ﬁne
guard dog. Keeping in mind their great courage (they will face a
cheetah in their own country), their hunting instincts and their
great speed, the breaker-in of pubs would be well advised to give
this house a wide berth. Her pedigree is something to wonder at,
and she seems certain to have a career of some note in the ring.
Her stable companion is Saint, the Alsatian. They are, as I
have said, a great race of war dogs, and absolutely fearless, although
extremely affectionate. She is two years of age and so handsome that
I wanted very much to draw her.
Saint, by the way, was one of a family originally owned by
the Canadian plastic surgeon, Dr. Unkaugh, who has now returned
to his native land.
Before doing so, he remarked upon the matured appearance of
Saint, but he was assured that she was not being over-fed. It became
known that one of her favourite haunts was down in the cellars
where the “old” is kept. The doctor ordered that she must be kept
off beer, and ever since that order Saint has recovered her slim ﬁgure.
The “old” at The Hand-in-Hand is very good indeed. . . .