Few English villages the size of Titchfield have such a rich and varied history. There are palaeolithic remains, the oldest standing piece of ecclesiastical architecture in Hampshire, the site of a famous monastic library and buildings associated with William Shakespeare.
The place retains its quirky, robust individuality, with a hotel and pubs adding to its charms. Centrally-located Wheatsheaf is a prized watering hole and when I went the locals were there in force prior to a funeral.
Beer mats – Batemans Valiant, Spitfire, Exmoor Houndog - decorate beams in the two-roomed pub, with an outside area at the back. This is a makeover-free zone.
The only nod to 2011 food trends is found on the vegetarian list, which includes bruschetta with roasted red peppers; warm goat’s cheese and beetroot salad; tortillas with all the Mexican trimmings. Otherwise, it’s the likes of lasagne; steak and ale pie; sausages and mash; beer-battered cod with chips and homemade tartare sauce; ribeye and chips and the house curry. Come here for sandwiches, a daily soup or a steak baguette, prices around the £9 mark for mains.
My choice, from the specials board, was pork loin with a lemon butter garlic sauce and herb crust (£9.95). Cooked from scratch, it took its time to arrive. Was it worth the 25-minute wait? Definitely. This highly enjoyable, simple dish came with excellent vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and new potatoes
The crust, however, was just a sprinkle of fresh crumbs and could have done with being buttered and either baked or grilled. A number of wines by the glass yielded a perfectly acceptable shiraz, but new glasses might be a consideration.
Desserts at £4.50 could include a chocolate and orange roulade; Forest of Bere ice cream; tiramisu and lemon tart, the latter my choice and billed as homemade. But the crust was undercooked, although the tangy filling was decorated with a luscious slice of lemon. The house style is one of jugs. You get a jug of sauce with the pork and one with cream with desserts, a nice touch.
In pride of place in the bar is a large beer barrel used as a high table, which might have found its way from the late Hope Brewery near the pub. In the mid 19th century, Titchfield was home to no fewer than five breweries and 12 inns.
These days there are four pubs, but the welcome continues to be part of the many charms of Titchfield. My bill came to just under £19.
The Wheatsheaf Inn, 1 East Street, Titchfield, Fareham PO14 4AD
Open from noon-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm for food Tues-Fri, noon–10pm (Sat) and noon–4pm (Sun). No food Sunday evening or Mondays.
Disabled access: Fine, but toilets are on the first floor.
How to get there: Follow the signs to Fareham off the A27, then signs to Titchfield. At the Titchfield bypass, exit at Titchfield village. The Wheatsheaf is on the right in East Street.