The Secret Pubs of Cambridge: St Radigund

Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery 18 October 2014

Perhaps a little poky (or cosy, to be generous), the 'St Radigund' is certainly curious in its Cambridge sporting and drinking heritage.  Once the endpoint of the infamous historic Cambridge pub crawl, the King Street Run, today it is the watering hole for the St Radegund Boat Club (who field five eights boats, regularly competing in the town bumps) as well as their own cricket team, who proudly proclaim to successfully combine the arts of beer drinking and not-overly competitive sport.  Naturally, being a Cambridge cricket team, they also have their own Latin motto – fimum non poliendum est – translating as “s**t doesn’t need to be polished”. Julia's sharply analytical Classics brain wonders whether the Latin language has ever been put to a more poetic use.

Besides its thriving sporting social scene, the little pub seems to do limited business. To call the place quiet would be a dramatic understatement. We sat ourselves down, whilst being acutely aware of the inevitable: the slightly intrusive silence that encapsulated us as the sole inhabitants.  Eventually over the evening, our intimacy with the barman (who of course overhead our conversation and bonded with Julia as a fellow Girtonian) was broken by the addition of one man and his dog, and finally a small gaggle of students.  As a result the atmosphere was rather quieter than its boat club heritage might lead one to expect. Undismayed, we took this opportunity to have a good look around the St. Radegund’s interior. The sporting theme is abundantly reflected in the decor, with team photos, club crests and other assorted memorabilia adorning the walls and contributing to its friendly warmth. 

An empty bar in an empty pub. Image Credit: Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery

Finally, we come to the beers themselves.  Focusing on guest ales, the 'Radigund' is well accredited for it’s serving of local ales, meaning the avid beer-lover will always find something interesting (and possibly unheard of). This ethos towards ale seemed fitting; it was the kind of place in which ordering anything other than a pint would be jarring. We started out with the Bluestone bitter, which as a malty pale ale was easily suitable for those tentatively dabbling on the darker side of what's on offer. Disappointment, however, came in the knowledge of there being only a single cider on tap. This minor fault was perhaps pardonable, given that this is not a large establishment and clearly primarily aimed at the ale-drinker, rather than those philistines amongst us who have a weakness for cider (ed. Julia).  Moreover, the cider itself, a classic Stowford press, was perhaps not the most exciting drink ever, though admittedly a solidly safe choice. Cheered by the Milton Tiki however, we soon forgot the underwhelming cider selection in the face of a fruity golden ale which was absolutely divine.

Julia and her solid cider. Image Credit: Julia Stanyard and Sian Avery

Meandering back from the 'St. Radegund' at the somewhat early time of ten thirty (the last call was abruptly shouted at quarter past at a volume far in excess of what was necessary, given the bar only spans a few metres) we concluded that it was quite unlike anywhere we have previously frequented. If you want to delve deeper into Cambridge University pub heritage in a low- tempo but charming wooden surrounds, the 'Radigund' is certainly worth a visit; though perhaps, for the sake of atmosphere, you might wish to take a few friends in tow to fill the heavy silence.