‘We pride ourselves on the history of the pub here.. it’s exceptional’

Lion 20/09/11 (MO)''Greg Clark who is the landlord of the Golden Lion in Southwick.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves  (113347-1)
Lion 20/09/11 (MO)''Greg Clark who is the landlord of the Golden Lion in Southwick.'Pictures: Ian Hargreaves (113347-1)
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GENERALS Eisenhower and Montgomery met at Southwick’s Golden Lion just days before the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy.

The pair chatted over an ale and a grapefruit juice at the pub, in High Street, which was serving as an impromptu officers’ mess in the run-up to the D-Day landings.

Modern-day landlord Greg Clark is proud of the pub’s wartime legacy.

The 55-year-old, who has commanded the pumps for the last five years, believes preserving the past is all about retaining the character of the village haunt.

With its open fireplaces, old brickwork and cracking ales on tap, it’s hard to point out any flaws.

His team of four chefs and six waitresses work around the clock to make sure the pub keeps up its vintage feel.

Greg said: ‘We pride ourselves on the history of the pub here. It’s exceptional. Eisenhower and Montgomery sat here and changed the course of history.

‘For me, that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It gives me a real buzz.

‘I think I own something very special here. We give it character and soul.

‘So many village pubs have gone down the commercial route and have ended up being used as restaurants.’

Jazz music belts out in the pub, which dates back to Tudor times, every Tuesday evening.

This week local act Delta Syncopators took to the wooden floor with their smooth rhythms.

Greg, who was born in Wiltshire, said: ‘We have different bands each week performing traditional or swing jazz. I love that type of music because it fits in with a pub of this stature. The music originated from an era the pub is famous for.’

Up until 1957, master brewer Dick Olding supplied the pub’s ale from a brewery opposite the car-park. When he retired that year, at the age of 81, the building was transformed into a museum for locals to discover the secrets of the trade. But Dick’s legacy still lives on in an ale named after him.

‘Old Dick’ is brewed by Suthwyk Ales, a group of farmers living on the Southwick estate.

Regulars Stewart and Mary Blainey, from Stubbington, fell in love with the pub on their first visit.

Stewart, 65, said: ‘It’s nice to see an old-style pub. There’s no pool tables or televisions and you can hear yourself talk. We love the set up here.’

Mary 62, said: ‘We will definitely come again. The jazz music is brilliant.’