Dining Out

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NEW INN, COLDINGHAM

Friends had always spoken highly of the New Inn at Coldingham. They said it was a great place to dine and meet friends. We knew it was popular with locals and visitors and were determined to visit and see for ourselves. We were also keen to pay a visit to the nearby Priory which was open to visitors.

Last Thursday we set off and travelled up the A1 past Eyemouth then on to the main road which winds through Coldingham. There stands the traditional and charming New Inn, which dates back to the 1800s. It was first known as a public house in 1860 and to this day remains a great meeting place. It has a great menu with lots of exciting dishes to choose from and also a specials menu changing weekly.

We decided to eat before we visited the Priory so we were the first customers to have lunch that day. We had a choice of where to sit and chose a quiet corner near the window. The room quickly filled up with customers and soon everyone was chatting, eating and enjoying each other’s company.

The New Inn is open from 10am every day for morning coffee and breakfast, and serves lunch from 12 noon till 2pm on Monday to Friday and all day Saturdays and Sundays. The evening meal is served from 6pm with last orders at 9pm. It is advisable to reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment. The food is freshly prepared so you may have to wait.

We chose their home-made vegetable soup as a starter and were also offered some of the fresh bread which had been baked that morning. It was a generous helping and the crusty bread had a mouth-watering nostalgic taste.

There were many excellent choices on the main course menu. Edward chose the Eyemouth haddock and crayfish mornay with mashed potatoes which was mouth-watering and delicious. The soup was so filling that I felt I could not eat a main meal and decided instead to have a fresh green salad.

Although there seemed to be only one waitress on duty, she was efficient, friendly and gave all her customers the very best of service.

The New Inn had a great variety of desserts to chose from. Edward chose apple crumble served with cream but I preferred to round my meal off with coffee. The pub is a credit to the village. It has a friendly atmosphere and always welcomes locals and visitors.

We were so looking forward to seeing the Priory which is situated in the centre of Coldingham, so after lunch we headed through a gate leading from the car park down a winding path to a free- standing arch, whilst nearby are the base courses of some very substantial columns.

Nearby there is a weird and spooky assemblage of bits of worked stone, headstones and a stone coffin lid stuck against one side of a stone wall. All very creepy and eerie.

Today there remains some evidence of history, mystery, intrigue and a fair amount of mayhem.

Inside the church it is also rather uncanny as the north and east walls are patterned ornamentally while the south and west walls are prominently plain.

The history of the Priory is fascinating. In 635 a monastery was built two miles north near St Abbs for both monks and nuns. In 683 a fire broke out and it was rebuilt for the use of nuns only.

When the Vikings destroyed it completely, it was rebuilt again in 870. In 1216 Coldingham Priory was destroyed by King John of England and was rebuilt on a grander scale.

Finally in 1430 it was again burnt down by its own prior possibly in an attempt to conceal money.

In 1662 new south and west walls were built and then rebuilt again in 1850 in the form we see today. What we see today is the end product of around 1400 years of building and rebuilding caused by fires and attacks by passing armies.

Before we returned to the car we sat in the sunshine on the village seat as passers-by spoke and smiled.

We had experienced a wonderful day in the friendly little village of Coldingham accompanied by a good lunch and a most interesting step back in history.

MAUREEN RAPER