Bar Sleuth: Be one of Pepys' peeps
HUNTINGDON — Oliver Cromwell may have gotten all the glory in his hometown, but Samuel Pepys got one heck of a namesake pub.
The Samuel Pepys (pronounced “Peeps”), on the far eastern end of High Street, is the kind of place that makes an afternoon pass with relative ease, whether one is watching rugby on TV, telling stories about why the British army is more worthy of praise than the Royal Air Force, or just sitting back with a couple of pints and reading the day’s newspapers.
Just don’t forget that Thursday is karaoke night, a handful of RAF Molesworth sailors told the Bar Sleuth recently.
Pepys is most famous for his exhaustive diaries, which are considered one of the most important sources of information on the English Restoration period. He also was an English naval administrator and member of Parliament.
Although Pepys is lesser-known than other figures in English history — such as Cromwell, who overthrew Charles I — his namesake pub, which opened nearly 300 years after his death, seemed like a fun and fitting tribute.
Even before entering, just seeing an unlocked bicycle propped against the outside wall seemed to hint “comfortable neighborhood pub.”
Inside, that first impression was confirmed with a large, sturdy bar and eye-pleasing décor. The volume on the two TVs had been muted and music played just loud enough to be heard, but not enough to cause a distraction to either conversation or the reading of Sunday newspapers.
Pouring pints behind the bar was owner Stephen Hampton.
“There’s been a pub here for about 100 years,” he said between pints. “I think it’s had a few different names.”
For a while it was an Irish pub, Hampton said, and before that it was called The Waterloo.
But for the past five years it’s been The Samuel Pepys.
“It’s more of an adult drinking club,” Hampton said. “We’ve got a good selection of beers with four pumps going, good entertainment, good atmosphere and a good location here in town.”
Pubgoers one recent day included four middle-aged men bellied up at the bar, two men in their late 20s or early 30s reading newspapers at one of the tables and a couple who looked to be in their young 20s.
Other couples and single patrons wandered in and out at regular intervals.
For now, Samuel Pepys serves food only at lunch on weekdays. So, visitors out on an evening of dinner and drinks will have to dine elsewhere.
But a first stop — or last — at Samuel Pepys is well advised. The pub is open nightly until 11, including on karaoke night.
Hampton said he has applied for an extended license to stay open until midnight on Thursdays.
Karaoke may not draw the best singers, but it does draw servicemembers.
“A lot of people know that Thursday night is American night,” he said.
Huntingdon is about 20 minutes south of RAF Alconbury and the same distance east of RAF Molesworth.
As an Australian — and with a manager who’s South African — Hampton said he’d like having more Americans in the pub.
“We just want the best people in the place, always,” Hampton said.
Location: Almost at the far eastern end of High Street, Huntingdon.
Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Drinks: About a dozen beers on tap, including four traditional ales, and standard international beers.
Food: Traditional pub food, and hamburgers, for weekday lunch only.
Ambiance: Comfortable and relaxing. The room was broken up by large columns that seemed to give the pub a feel of having a handful of little alcoves.
Service: Good. “It’s owner-operated,” said Stephen Hampton, who poured beers on a recent Sunday afternoon.
No Web site.