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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

The Cherub

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas OCTOBER. 12, 2020

[68-365] 12th. October 2020- The Cherub is a pub in Dartmouth Devon. It is the oldest building in Dartmouth but it has not always been a pub so cannot be said to be the oldest pub in Dartmouth. It is also tiny and I haven't been in since Covid so I'm not sure how they are managing to deal with social distancing. It only has about 6 tables in normal times so remove some of those and I am not sure how viable a business plan that would be. Anyway, their website says they are open and upstairs is also a restaurant which is what an Estate Agent/Realtor would call "compact and bijou" what everyone else would call cramped or if being generous, cosy. Seriously though, I love it in there and it is certainly a step into the past and has a fantastic atmosphere.

This is a side view up the narrow alley that leads down to the river. You can see quite well from this angle, the traditional overhanging floors (jetties) as the building rises up.

Some Tudor houses had upper storeys bigger than the ground floor. This was called a jetty and it's when the upper storeys would overhang. The origins of the jetty are not known but in a town it was very useful for enlarging floor space while getting maximum street width.

The Cherub Inn dates from around 1380. It still retains many of its original features, including some old ships’ timbers, and it’s original use is thought to have been as a Merchant’s House. It is the oldest building in Dartmouth - and possibly the oldest “town house” in the South Hams. It is a Grade 2* Listed Building - a category that is reserved for the most interesting of smaller buildings.

The Cherub Inn is situated in Higher Street which was the principal street of Dartmouth in Elizabethan times. It was almost untouched until a fire in 1864 which destroyed the southern end of the street and during the Second World War the side opposite The Cherub Inn was bombed. In 1958 the building was virtually derelict but was completely restored by Mr Cresswell Mullet (whose parents must have been Dickens fans surely, with a name like that)who also restored No.3 Higher Street. In more recent times, The Cherub Inn managed to escape another terrible fire in May 2010 which sadly seriously damaged other historic Tudor neighbour buildings but these buildings have also now been thankfully restored.

In the 1960’s The Cherub Inn was a private members club and it was only in the early 1970’s that it became an inn and a restaurant. The entrance door leads straight into the bar (and I suggest that anyone over 5 feet tall duck or take Elastoplast) and on the two floors above are the restaurants and kitchen. Below the bar is the beer cellar with probably another cellar (now filled in) below that. This sub-cellar would probably have had access onto the foreshore when the river flowed where Lower Street is now.

On a personal note, I haven't been in since a man sitting on a stool at the bar collapsed and landed on the floor at my feet, actually it was on my feet. Men don't fall at my feet every day I should add. We quickly moved the furniture away to clear space which is easier said than done in the Cherub and I was fairly certain at this point he had just died, the clue being he was not breathing. After what seemed like an age, during which I was rapidly trying to remember my First Aid skills, which are minimal, and just before I started punching him in the chest, he went from being dead to starting to make choking sounds. None of the regulars seemed at all perturbed so I'm not sure if this was a normal everyday occurrence and as I was dialling 999 the other regulars who seemed to know him were fairly convinced he was fine, whereupon his eyes opened and he stood up, sat back at the bar and continued with his drink.

Can I just say now to any friends of mine, if I collapse off a stool in the Cherub or anywhere else and appear dead, I am definitely not fine and I do at the very least expect you to dial 999. Just making that clear. Should I recover instantly I would at least like to know Paramedics were on the way just in case.


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