haywaggon12Hartfield is where Christopher Robin played Pooh Sticks on a bridge over a stream that flows into the River Medway, and in 1969 Brian Jones drowned in a swimming-pool in Cotchford Farm, AA Milne’s old home.
What a bizarre liquid link!
Neighbour Helen and I went to visit the small Sussex town, and we decided to have lunch in the 16th Century Haywaggon, which we easily spotted on the High Street on the opposite side of the road to the Pooh Corner shop.
More about that in another article.
The Haywaggon was built in 1540 as a coaching inn on the then main road from East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells.
It was originally called the Dorset Arms as all the land belonged to the Duke of Dorset. Then in 1976 the Buckhurst Estate sold it.
Mike Whitehead has worked in the pub for 11 years, and he finally bought it last year.
The pub retains many of its original features, including the oak beams, a bread oven and welcoming inglenook fires.
haywaggon11The two ladies behind the bar were very friendly and welcoming, and although everyone else was sitting in the bar area, we decided to go in the dining-room, so Debbie showed us through.
Everything, and I mean everything, is freshly-made by the six (soon to be seven) chefs, including their bread, brioche, sausages and ice-cream!
The menu changes every day. I asked Mike if that was really necessary, and he said yes it is as they get regular diners several times a week.
(Believe me, that is very unusual for a Sussex country pub. It’s often almost impossible to get the locals to regularly walk across the road even for a drink, and then they’re surprised when these lovely old buildings become boarded up, derelict and replaced by a block of flats!)
Helen, who is a vegetarian, had deep-fried breaded Brie with cranberry sauce and a rocket salad, and I had chicken liver pate, red onion jam and toasted slices of brioche – home-made of course!
The onion jam really lifted the pate’s flavour.
haywaggon06I asked Helen what she thought of her starter and she said that the brie’s crust was lovely and crunchy, and the brie was creamy inside.
For my main course, I chose lamb rump with Dauphinoise potatoes, vegetables and a rosemary & redcurrant jus.
All the vegetables, cauliflower, carrots & courgettes, were cut into a sort of pyramid shape. They were al dente, which I do like as long as they’re not too crunchy. There’s a marginal difference between al dente and undercooked, but it does make a big difference!
The Dauphinoise potatoes were like a rectangular slice of cake, which I thought was a brilliant idea, well-worth copying!
Helen chose the olive, sun-blushed tomato & spinach tagliatelle, with cream sauce and garlic ciabatta.
She asked for a child’s portion, and she was glad that she did as it was still a huge plateful! But she said the sauce was light and creamy, and she would recommend the Haywaggon to veggies, especially if they were very hungry!
haywaggon02We were both bloated – or we thought we were, until we saw the sweets board!
I had sticky toffee pudding with ice-cream, and Helen had raspberry crème brulee.
Although she’d been reluctant to choose a pudding. Helen said she was glad that she had! And once again, it was light, and very easy to eat after a meal.
I asked Mike why people go to the Haywaggon.
Mike told me that they carefully source all the food locally, so that’s why it’s so fresh and flavoursome.
Although they have a printed menu, if someone wants to slightly change their order, that’s not a problem, and the chef won’t throw a Hissy Fit! And as everything is freshly-prepared, any alterations are easy to do.
As Mike said, that’s one of the reasons why the pub is so busy!
There’s a good choice of wines to accompany the food, plus a selection of locally-brewed ales, including Harveys in Lewes, Black Cat in Groombridge and Larkins of Chiddingstone. And the pub has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, encouraging conversation with no taped music blaring out
haywaggon04Their live jazz evenings are popular though, on the 2nd Monday of every month.
They get dozens of people from Bromley, Beckenham, Redhill and Croydon, plus lots of Americans and Japanese who visit Hartfield to follow the Winnie the Pooh trail of course!
There are apparently two well-documented ghosts. One is a young boy in the orchard, eating an apple.
I asked if he was caught scrumping apples!
A middle-aged lady hanged herself in one of the opposite outhouses. Mike wasn’t sure of the dates. He’s busy enough coping with the living! And he’s just about to open another pub, the Dorset Arms, about a mile away in Withyham.
At the moment it’s in the process of being extensively renovated. The old ice-house is being turned into the restaurant. It’s due to be opened – or rather, re-opened –in a couple of weeks, so watch this space. With Mike in charge, I don’t doubt that it will be a popular venue and worth visiting!

Useful Information:
Starters cost from£6-£8.
Main courses are from £12, up to £22 for a 10oz Sirloin steak.
Each meal is freshly-prepared and cooked to order.
There is also a bar menu.Phone: 01892 770 252
Email: contact@haywaggon-inn.co.uk
Website: www.haywaggon-inn.co.ukThe Haywaggon Inn
High Street
East Sussex

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.