I distinctly remember my first visit to the St Radegund, the smallest of Cambridge’s 118 pubs. In contrast to The Eagle, filled with its tourists, and The Mill with its punting touts, this pub was stuffed with men in faded T-shirts and lycra emblazoned with the words ‘Hash House Harriers’. Returning years later, I ask barman Timothy Haire who those men were.
“A drinking club with a running problem” is his reply. He tells me of evening runs through Cambridge, following a flour trail which eventually leads to the St Radegund. The pub also boasts a rowing club and a cricket team, both founded by the late, much-loved landlord Terry ‘Bunter’ Kavanagh.
It is thanks to Terry’s legacy that the St Radegund is the most eccentric and charming pub in Cambridge. Decorations include a cricket ball blessed by Pope John Paul II and a town shield donated by the mayor of the Austrian town St Radegund Bei Graz, who once came in for a pint.
Customers buy drinks for friends to collect, writing ‘rainchecks’ to pin to the wall above the bar. One is for a new-born baby to collect in eighteen years’ time; another has been left in memory of a customer who passed away before claiming his drink.
Of the eight locally-made ales on offer, I would recommend ‘Cyclops’: a hoppy and fruity copper-coloured ale from the nearby Milton brewery. For those in search of something stronger, pop in to the ‘Vera Lynn Society’ on a Friday evening where you can buy a double G&T for the price of a single.
If you’re searching for a friendly local, make it the St Radegund. If the regulars like you enough they’ll let you burn your name onto the ceiling when you graduate, and if you’re any good at cricket they might even use you in the pub team’s upcoming match against the Vatican City.