The search for Penda’s perfect Sunday lunch has become a bit of a quest for the family. Not organised enough to plan in advance, there are many weekends spent deciding at the last minute to go out for a fat roast, especially as mornings are usually spent freezing one’s nethers off on a frosty sports touchline.
After a frantic ring-round we were lucky to get a table at The Elwes, as there were seven of us in the gang that day, never an easy bunch to seat.
The pub is on the outskirts of suburban Northampton but was certainly once in a quiet country village. If you’re over six foot be ready to duck – the ceilings are low and the bars are cosy.
We were led through the main eating area to a back room with an imposing family photo of the eponymous family in their sepia-tinged heyday, The Elwes clan had bought the imposing Billing Hall in 1800 and the family held many positions in society, including the Catholic Bishop of Northampton and one of the world’s most famous tenors, the unfortunate Gervase Elwes, died in Boston, USA, in the 1920s, when he fell off a train while trying to retrieve a fellow passenger’s coat. The hall later fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1956. The pub, present before and through over 100 years of Elwes family dominance in the village, stands solid today.
The choice of three roasts was good for all of us – the kids’ versions were only a fraction smaller than the £9.95 adult versions at an extraordinarily reasonable £3.95. We chose a couple of extra vegetable sides and still had room for a few puds – including a very generous crème brulee (below). The mains were good, traditional pub Sunday roasts – nothing too fancy, and with a couple of our party suffering from hangovers we were happy to be in a room of our own. Total price for 7 with soft drink and coffees: a bargain at £118.10.