Colne Engaine is a small village tucked away just off the road between Colchester and Halstead, just north of Earls Colne, and not somewhere you’re likely to find yourself at without it actually being your destination. One good reason for finding it is The Five Bells pub. It’s listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, but not a pub I’ve ever been to. As we were out in that part of Essex (perilously close to the Suffolk border!) to visit Tatam’s Blacksmiths, and I’ve resolved to visit all of the nearby Good Beer Guide pubs, dropping in on the pub this beautifully sunny day seemed a good idea.
We took a slightly more scenic route, heading out of Wakes Colne but turning right off the A1124 to go up Colne Park Road, and then taking a left at some crossroads along Mill Lane. It’s a narrow lane, but you get some great views of the Colne Valley, and also drive past a lovingly restored water mill.
The Five Bells sits opposite the village church, and some hundreds of years old. I’m not sure at what point the current building was put up, but the pub itself has a notice up listing all the landlords since the mid-16thC or thereabouts.
The pub has, as most country pubs have been, extended to provide enough seating to serve food. It’s been done very well, a long pub with one end having a big screen tv and pool table, with a big conservatory at the other end having lots of seating for dining. It’s quite child friendly, bright, and has a patio with a stunning view over Colne Valley.
Beer-wise there were five real aleas on this lunchtime, with two from very local breweries – Stonely Bitter from the nearby Shalford Brewery (visit their website), and ‘Fork Handles’ from the Mighty Oak brewery in Maldon (visit their embryonic website); ‘Purity Gold’ form the Purity Brewing Company rather further afield; and more mainstream beers being Old Speckled Hen, Greene King IPA, and Adnams Regatta. A good choice, but being lunchtime I had just a half of the ‘Fork Handles’.
The lunchtime menu was impressive. There were a good range sandwiches and baguettes on offer and five very tempting lunches – Braised Beef Brisket, West Mersea Crab Risotto, Mushroom and Stilton Crumble, Sausage and Bean Cassoulet, and Chicken and Smoked Bacon Casserole, all of which came in under a tenner. We chose to share one of their Morsel Platters which come in seafood, veggie, and mixed variations. We opted for the mixed platter and this is what we got :
It was fantastic – a wide variety of high quality food, extremely well presented, and at a tenner, pretty reasonable.
It was only a short visit, and there’s clearly a lot going on at The Five Bells, with jazz and music on a couple of nights, beer festivals and more.