The new-look Drum & Monkey is now open. With its “town in the countryside” location, surrounded by the woodlands of Warwickshire, The Drum & Monkey is a historic pub that’s welcomed people through its doors for over 150 years.
With its pretty, white picket fence and lovely hanging baskets, The Drum & Monkey is a mid-19th century tavern, in the leafy West Midlands village of Dorridge. Surrounded by Warwickshire’s Green Belt, the pub sits on the old road to Hockley Heath, just outside Solihull, not far from the historic landmarks of Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton.
A gateway to the Warwickshire countryside, The Drum & Monkey is popular with both walkers and cyclists exploring the rural villages of Dorridge, Bentley Heath, which was once home to Lord Byron, and Knowle with its 600-year old church. When the sun shines, it’s not unusual to find the beer garden abuzz with ramblers and riders plotting their path over a pint of real ale, or something sumptuous off the menu of traditional pub classics.
The Drum & Monkey was established in 1860 and has always been a public house. In its early years, however, it was known as The White Lion Inn. It’s not clear precisely when the name changed, but there is photographic evidence of the pub when it was still The White Lion, as late as 1930.Read more...
What is clear is that its subsequent moniker was inspired by the construction of the Knowle & Dorridge Railway Station. The station was opened in 1852, as part of the Great Western Railway line between Birmingham and London.There were some workers, known colloquially as “blasting monkeys”, who had the unenviable task of lugging blasting powder back and forth across the construction site, in large drums – and the pub is named in their honour.
Dorridge village is first recorded in around 1400, when it was known as “derrech”, meaning a woodland clearing. Yet its development wouldn’t start in earnest until centuries later, when the Knowle and Dorridge Station first opened. Prior to its arrival, Dorridge was a rural area, with many of the fields that still surround The Drum & Monkey today being owned by The Muntz Family. The family made its fortune in metals, specifically a unique type of brass used in shipbuilding. Mr Muntz struck a deal with the GWR, agreeing for the railway line to be laid through his estate at Widney Manor (where Hogarth’s Hotel stands today), in exchange for a train station to be built close enough for him to commute to London and conduct his business in comfort.
The station proved a great success, and by 1877 Dorridge had expanded to become a thriving commuter town... much like it is today. Fine houses were built to accommodate wealthy industrialists who sought to move out of Birmingham and enjoy the country life, whilst having the flexibility of commuting by rail. That rural essence still remains, in the open fields and the tree-lined streets that characterise much of Dorridge, and Bentley Heath to its north. Four Ashes Road, on which the Drum & Monkey stands, is a good example: a long street, lined with thicket hedges and mature trees, including one of the original four ash trees, which still stands along the driveway of the golf driving range.
Dorridge is surrounded by the Warwickshire countryside, and you don’t have to travel far to discover some of the county’s historic treasures. A couple of miles away is Packwood House, a Grade I Listed Tudor manor with a charming timber-frame, wonderful topiary and famous Yew Garden containing over 100 trees, said to represent the Sermon on the Mount. It’s also worth a visit for its unique collection of exquisite tapestries and fine examples of 16th- and 17th century furniture.
Keep driving and you get to Baddesley Clinton, a 14th century, moated manor house estate in the heart of the ancient Forest of Arden. Now a Grade I listed building, it once sheltered persecuted Catholics from the priest hunters during Penal Times. Eagle-eyed film lovers may recognise it from the Cate Blanchett movie, ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’.
The Drum & Monkey connects some of the picturesque public walkways through The Green Belt, between Solihull and Knowle. From the car park, if you head left towards the outskirts of Dorridge, then follow the foothpath as it zig-zags across the fields parallel to the M42, you’ll reach the River Blythe and Brueton Park. As you wander the extensive grasslands, look out for the blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches, great tits, nuthatches and tree creepers that nest in the hedges and trees. Exit the park in an easterly direction and you’ll quickly reach the Grand Union Canal, the UK’s longest, which runs all the way from Birmingham to London.
With its rural location, historic towns and delicious menu of traditional pub classics, The Drum & Monkey is a lovely old tavern in an idyllic part of the country. Whether you decide to dine in under the old beams, or al fresco with a pint of perfectly poured cask ale, you’re sure to leave The Drum & Monkey feel relaxed and refreshed.Show less...