The Jolly Drover is a traditional pub in Hill Brow on the Hampshire/West Sussex border. It has been run by the same family for the past 20 years and has an interesting history to tell.
There is ample car parking space and a fairly spacious eating area inside the pub.
We were greeted by a friendly member of staff and shown to our table. There was a wide and varied menu and not too expensive.
This place seems to have a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and ideal to enjoy either a lunch or dinner after a nice walk in the nearby woods. There is no pressure to hurry your meal, as we certainly were there quite a while, chatting to friends.
The food was served with generous portions and a fairly quick service. I just had one ‘bone of contention,’ and that was that the mashed potato accompanying my main course was somewhat ‘dry and crusty’ which, in my mind, seemed to indicate it was probably being kept warm before being served. Maybe we took too long with the starter!
Real ales available.
All in all, an enjoyable meal in nice surroundings and somewhere I would consider returning.
The Jolly Drover has an interesting history. It was built by a drover called Knowles in 1844. He was very good at his job and the cattle he drove would arrive at market in a good condition as he knew all the places where good watering holes could be found. This resulted in the farmer getting a good price and Mr. Knowles earned good commission. Knowles used his money to buy some land on the way. He built the pub which was also a brewery, along with a couple of other buildings, including a barn.
Drovers were thought of as respected members of the farming community, and being entrusted with documents and money from sales, were closely linked to early banking.
Mr Knowles wanted to offer cheer and sustenance to other drovers on the old London Road. The wood nearby is named after him; Knowles Meadow. He lived in the pub with his daughters. One daughter died inside the pub. It was thought that there was a ghost in the pub who was given the name George. The spookiest thing was that in recent times, the owners learned that Knowles’ daughter who died was called Georgie!
There was also a drive through the barn used for horse rustling. This area was made into rooms for guests to stay. The building is made of stone and has small, black darts of flint between the larger stones, known as witch stones. ( A witch had to count all the stones on a building before she could enter . By including witch stones she’d be stuck outside all night until the sun came up).
Takes me back to the drover days of ‘Rawhide,’ with Clint Eastwood – only more interesting routes in this country then outback of America!