The Turf Tavern was on our list of pubs to visit while we were staying in Oxford. On Tuesday September 13th late afternoon our tour guide dropped us off at St. Helen’s Passage to make our way to The Turf.
We got the lay of the land and found our table # so we could order our food at the bar. Fish and Chips for Dear and Steak and Ale Pie for me.
We found by the end of our stay in Oxford that this was the best run pub in town, in our opinion. We enjoyed a meal or an ale at the Turf Six different times while we were in Oxford. The Staff was always cheerful and the servers were efficient and ready to help with any requests.
Since Sticky Toffee Pudding was on the menu we ordered one for us to share for dessert.
To find one of the passages to the Turf find the Bridge of Sighs and then walk under it to a narrow passage way which will take you down another passageway to the property.
Their name drop board shows all the famous people who have been to the Turf. We heard about it in researching the Pubs from the Inspector Morse Series.
The Turf Tavern (or just ‘The Turf’ to it’s locals) is probably the oldest pub in Oxford. The pub was built in the Canditch (the most outside City Wall) as gambling and betting was not permitted inside the walls of the City.
It’s foundations and use as a malthouse can be dated back to 1381, noted by tax imposed by Richard II. Originally called the ‘Spotted Cow’ the name was changed as it’s reputation grew as a venue of gambling. Patrons would frequent The Turf to mee their “Turf-Men’ and although logic might dictate that this was primarily a horse connection, it seems they would take bets on pretty much anything.
Since then it has become a firm favorite for Oxford Dons, students, Tourists from near and afar and many celebrities all searching the streets of Oxford, to find it’s best kept secret.
This is one of the outdoor patios at The Turf. The ancient city wall and the Bell tower at New College you see looming over the patio. I zoomed up with my camera to catch the gargoyles.
After church on Sunday when most of the Pubs and restaurants in town were full with people getting their Sunday Roasts and other goodies we high tailed it to the Turf again and tried to find a seat. At first the only seat we could find was outside in the patio but when our food arrived we noticed an empty seat inside and asked our server if we could switch and he obliged us. It was nice to leave the patio as some of the patrons were lighting up their cigarettes. I enjoyed a delicious Lamb Roast with standard Yorkshire pudding and gravy and roasted veggies. Dear opted for Fish and Chips again.
Our final visit to The Turf was on Friday afternoon the 23rd of September. This was our last full day in Oxford.
A pint and 1/2 a pint. We ordered something way outside of our usual on this day. A Chicken Wings platter with different sauces, etc. We met a Canadian mom and daughter who were visiting relatives in Oxford. The mom was originally from England and went to college in Oxford. A fun conversation.
If you ever find yourself in Oxford follow the passageway to The Turf, quiet and off the beaten track.