4 St. Andrews Street
Norwich NR2 4AF
The Rumsey Wells maintains the sequence of real-ale houses on the site that goes back unbroken for many years. The establishment itself is not large and very varied. There is a small, rather oddly-shaped bar, which always has an interesting selection of real ales as well as the usual offerings of wines, spirits and soft drinks. Food is served on the premises and although the menu is fairly limited the food is sensibly priced, good and wholesome, and often quite interesting as well. What is most interesting about this venue however, is the premises itself and the activities within. There is a conservatory/reading-room type addition in the “courtyard”, with comfy chairs and various forms of books and entertainment, and also a downstairs room (more of this in a moment). My last two visits have been rather contrasting. On the first, at lunchtime, it was surprisingly busy with a relatively youthful bias to the clientele, many enjoying a drink and a chat, others eating the tasty food. My second visit, a weekday evening, found a very quiet bar but with promise of some “music” downstairs. Even though it was mid-summer and very warm (I was in shorts and t-shirt) and it appeared hot, dark and dungeon-like down the stairs, it still had to be investigated. What we found was akin to turning-back-the-clock to the 60’s. The room was quite small, smaller than I remembered from years back, with a dancefloor, a bar and a couple of secretive alcoves at one end. Inside were around 30 or so “mods”, dressed in all their finery, dancing away to the tunes of the period. Quadrophenia sprang to mind! Parkas, drainpipe trousers, polka dot dresses, loafers, ribbon-ties and all the fashion rages of the period were on display. The hairstyles were varied and entertaining, and apparently not spoiled by the number of bash-hats with RAF “targets” on them indicating that several people had arrived by scooter. I was a little taken aback that something like this was going on in Norwich and I didn’t know about it. Check it out!