Toasting one of the country’s longest-serving pub tenants
It is ten years since Barnham landlady Daphne Cutten bid a fond farewell to her pub, after nearly 47 years behind the pumps. Daphne, one of the country’s longest-serving pub tenants, announced her retirement in January 2011 at the age of 77 and said her last day as licensee of the Murrell Arms would be in March, 46 years and 355 days after she first arrived.
Daphne ran a proper, good, old-fashioned boozer, a pub where drinkers could sit and sup in peace. Occasionally an acoustic guitarist might strum, or you could try your hand at Ring the Bull, as the Murrell kept this traditional pub game alive. Food under Daphne was good, honest, simple fare, not a microwave or a deep fat fryer in sight.
In 1964, when Mrs Cutten and her husband Mervyn purchased the public house, they had to pay a lump sum of £850, and a rent of just £3 per week.
“It was between buying a pub and buying an antique shop and in the end, we chose the pub as we felt it was the best financial option, ” said Mrs Cutten.
Originally from Eastbourne, Mrs Cutten was 31 when she took over the pub. She saw five brewery firms come and go over her tender, with the current owner remaining as Fuller’s Brewery, as it was when she left.
Mrs Cutten said: “When we came to the pub we had one 15-month-old and one three-week-old child plus two more over the years. The children grew up in the pub, but none of them have ever shown an interest in running it, probably because they have been around it all their lives. People always say children follow in their parents footsteps but that has certainly not been our experience.”
Mrs Cutten said it was the regulars at the Yapton Road pub she would miss the most, as they were good company.
“They are what makes a pub a pub, all the gossip and chat, you get to know all sorts working in a pub. Everyone seems to know everyone and it is nice. We tried to keep it as a traditional pub without much fuss over meals, no condiments on the tables, just somewhere people can relax and have a drink,” she said.
Friends advised Mrs Cutten to go on a cruise but she said after such a busy working life pulling pints, she was just looking forward to enjoying her retirement and had no definite plans.