Palm Sunday, on the 29th March 1461 was an awful day for weather in North Yorkshire. For most of the day a snowstorm raged. This did not stop a famous and bloody battle from taking place at Towton, during the War of the Roses.
Opposing sides, fighting for the Houses of York and Lancaster to bring about their choice of King, met over a large area of countryside near Tadcaster, between Leeds and York. 75,000 Englishmen took part in the battle, which lasted ten hours and took place during the snowstorm.
At the end of the day, 28,000 men lay dead with thousands more severely wounded, the bloodiest battle ever to take place on English soil. (See my earlier review – Towton Battlefield).
Towton, the nearest village, is but a short walk from the battle-site. The Rockingham Arms village pub is the headquarters of the Towton Battlefield Society, who have created a circular walk and have placed interpretation boards and vantage points around the site. The walk is a fascinating and eye-opening experience and so well worth a tootle round.
The Society could not have chosen a better local pub for it’s activities, for it is friendly, welcoming and serves great meals, all in comfortable, relaxed surroundings.
This is a great place to visit before or after completing the walk.
From the roadside, it is at the end of the village, is illuminated at night and looks cosy and inviting.
On entering, we emerged into the dark-wood floored lounge area, complete with leather sofas, low wooden tables and – joy of joys – a real coal fire glowing in the hearth.
We were immediately put at ease by the friendly, smart, black-clad staff and a welcome from the affable landlord. This is a family run pub whose staff who are a pleasure to meet.
The resident real ales on the bar were Yorkshire beers, John Smith’s from a couple of miles down the road and Black Sheep from Masham. Both were on exceptional form. The rotating guest beer was, on this occasion, Wells’ Try Time from Bedford. I surmise that this is a special edition created for the Six Nations Rugby Tournament. It was not to my taste however and a bit of a disappointment compared to it’s stable mate, the delicious Bombardier.
Modern lagers are also available on pump, including the zingy Peroni.
The pub has a recent Cask Marque award for the quality of it’s beers.
The layout of this dining-pub is an intriguing higgle-piggle of rooms leading off the lounge area.
There is a larger dining room straight ahead, with two smaller and more intimate rooms to the rear. All are half wood panelled in light colours and tastefully decorated. On the tables were tea-light candles in coloured glass pots. Discreet white string lights added to the cosy feel.
There is a large and airy dining conservatory to the rear which overlooks the lawned beer garden too. Great for Summer dining.
Word of mouth positivity about this pub had reached us and we were keen to give it a go.
As we took our ease in the lounge, we were presented with complimentary warm French bread and real butter to nibble on whilst we perused the menus.
There are several choices of menu, all using local produce in season.
Bargain hunters can take advantage of the Early Bird, from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays. This is a simple menu of three choices from each course at 2 courses for £12 or three for £15. An excellent deal.
Sunday Lunch is available with a greater choice of 5 starters, 5 mains and 4 desserts at 2 courses for £16 or 3 courses for £19. All the usual suspects of roasts and accompaniments are here.
My party however, went for the A La Carte menu which gave us a choice of 9 starters from £4.95 to £10.50 (this one to share), 6 mains plus four fish and two steak options from £11.95 to £19.50 and seven desserts from £4.95 to £8.50.
My partner and I chose the Sharing Platter starter which was served on a plank.
This grabbed the attention of fellow diners, beautifully presented with a gorgeous ham hock terrine, which came with a pot of piccalilli, chicken liver pate, juicy tempura tiger prawns, large olives, intense sun-dried tomatoes, a lovely fresh salad and a mountain of toasted ciabatta slices. Heaven on a plank and highly recommended.
My main course was Moroccan Lamb Tagine. This was a mild and tasty stew of tender lamb in a sauce of coriander, turmeric, chilli, cumin and garlic, accompanied by a light and fluffy lemon and coriander cous-cous. Delicious.
Around the table, a short-crust steak and Black Sheep ale pie with an assortment of seasonal vegetables, lovely pink duck breast with pink peppercorn sauce and rosemary dauphinoise potatoes, fillet of sea-bream and the fish pie all gained appreciative comments.
Not one of my party of six could contemplate the thought of dessert, so sated were they.
All have planned future visits. We will continue to spread the word about this gem of a dining experience.
The waiting staff were polite and efficient. Both the landlord and the chef came out to ask diners about their satisfaction with the meals, a nice if unusual touch for a pub and shows that they care. This was a convivial night with quality food at exceptional prices.
Battle your way through delightful countryside to LS24 9PB, whilst for further details and menus go to “www.therockinghamarms.com”:http://www.therockinghamarms.com.