Turn Left at the Pub, by George Oakes, published by Henry Holt and Company, 115 West 118th St., New York, NY 10011. $14.95, paperback.
Originally published in 1968, Turn Left at the Pub follows up George Oakes’ first traveller’s guide, Turn Right at the Fountain. Oakes wrote this fourth revised edition along with Anton Powell, author of Londonwalks. Turn Left is a small paperback, yet not tiny enough to fit in your pocket. But don’t leave this handy handbook at home when travelling abroad to Great Britain. Walk alongside Oakes and Powell through 172 pages of nostalgia for relaxing pubs, colourful landscapes, and remarkable history in 16 of Britain’s most popular cities.
Travel to the Kentish city of Canterbury where Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales takes place and view the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral to witness the site where Thomas Becket was murdered. Another stop on the tour, the Westgate Museum, is one of the most intriguing sites in the city. Once a city prison, it now displays relics of its former tenants. If the morbid gaol cells don’t dissuade you from a life of crime, perhaps the executioner’s equipment will. After recovering from the display downstairs, retreat to the roof to enjoy the panorama of the city.
The cathedral city of Wells is best known for preserving its history. Take the Star Pub for example. The cobbled path leading into the tavern is reminiscent of an old-fashioned inn and the pub itself can be a nice retreat if you’re just planning on relaxing. From Vicars’ Close view the elegant fuchsias and roses while gazing at the quaint stone houses. This street, perhaps the most ancient in Europe, clearly captures the feeling of the 14th century.
Just about a 30-minute drive further on lies Bath. Lord Nelson stayed at a residence on Pierrepont Street during his visit to this exquisite town. Jane Austen also lived here and the city inspired two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.
Oakes and Powell incorporate all of the elements necessary for a useful guidebook. An in-depth history, easy-to-read maps, helpful phone numbers, and vivid verbal images accompany most chapters. Other cities include Chichester, York, and Oxford.