This delightfully decrepit looking pub is known locally as the Crooked House. It proudly displays its longevity with a sign declaring ‘circa 1460′ and it looks every bit its age. Judging by the jaunty angle of the windows and doors the builders must have been helping themselves to the ale.
Inside some not entirely sympathetic alteration has left structural walls stranded, but the overall feel is pleasing, with exposed beams and soft brickwork. Comfortable corners provide cosy places to sit and chat. An open fire, again at a bizarre angle, provides a focal point in winter. Generally the pub has seen better days and would benefit from some TLC. There’s a huge garden at the rear, with seating and tables, and children’s play area.
The area and the pub are steeped in history and Hampton Court is a short walk away. According to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, ‘ Molesey used to be the bare-knuckle boxing centre of England’. The pub claims the infamous highwayman Claude Duval hid here from the Bow Street Runners, unlikely, as he was executed in 1670, more than seventy years before they were formed. But he was a wanted man with a price on his head and it is conceivable this would be a good place to lye low. One bar is dedicated to his dubious honour.
A registration badge is evidence of the pub’s past life as a post office. Pubs played many roles in the community and in the early days of the postal system, this was not unusual. Letters were not delivered but picked up by the recipients, who might pop in for a pint at the same time.
The Bell’s weather vane has a naval officer with a looking glass which apparently came from the church. The ‘Bell’ is a name often associated with the church for obvious reasons and was an easily recognisable shape for the largely illiterate population. The Bell is in need of some sympathetic repairs and restoration, but is still well worth a visit.