Pubs with Playgrounds: The Barley Mow, Selmeston, East Sussex


Usually when I write about pubs with playgrounds, they’re about the food as much as the kid-friendly aspect. But in the beautiful weather we’ve been having, sometimes it’s just as nice to know about one that’s a perfect pitstop for a quiet drink on the way back from the beach.

And this is just what we found a couple of weeks ago at The Barley Mow on the Lewes Road near Polegate. Heading away from Lewes on the A27, just on from Sussex Hang Gliding and Paragliding and just before Drusillas, we’ve driven past this pub dozens of times and always just about caught a glimpse of the playground at its rear. But my husband turned in and checked it out on his bike a few weeks back, and on the way back from the Arlington Bluebell Walk, we decided to stop for a juicy birthday pint in the sunshine and give it a proper look-over.

The playground has been recently upgraded at what looks like real expense. It consists of a ramp leading to a housey-structure on stilts that’s exited via a wavy slide. There are boingy balls on springs, swings, and some balance equipment. The structures are super sturdy and there’s smart non-slip wood chip below them – it feels safe and well-maintained.


The garden it sits in is also expansive and grassy, with well-spaced tables and some shade to retreat to if needed. Some of the tables are enormous – the round kind with several double seats around them – so would be great for a bigger gathering. Beyond the play equipment is a soothing, uninterrupted view of the Downs.


A big plus for the playground is that ramp – and the fact that the housey thing at the top of it is completely enclosed. My 20-month-0ld sometimes-baby could walk up to the top of the slide and come down it unassisted and in total safety, which was a bonus as she is quite the little kamikaze and it’s not often both her parents can stay seated at the same time.


Another huge plus is that the whole garden itself is completely enclosed – including a bit through an arched hedge towards the pub. There’s no way for kids to get out and, with the car park right there, and the busy A27 in front of the pub, this is definitely a consideration. Other pubs I’ve written about in the past don’t share this particular benefit and while I’m not saying ‘the best kind of pub is one where you don’t have to watch your kids,’ it IS nice not to have to constantly be in fear of them walking out into a road or car park…


Through that arched hedge there’s also a fire pit in a little roofed structure. This looks like it would be such a cosy place to sit on a chillier evening, but during daylight hours, it’s obviously like catnip for kids just for being small and having a roof on it.

Despite the playground being that good, my boys and sometimes-daugthers eventually wandered into a corner of the garden and started their own game with a couple of other children in and around a small clump of bushes and trees. A bit of wild play despite the prescribed stuff being right there – never a bad thing!


The Barley Mow is GREAT for a stop off on the way home, or a lazy sunny afternoon reading the papers (yes, can you imagine, it could be possible!). The interior of the pub is modern and Farrow and Ball’d – I wouldn’t call it characterful, but I only walked through it to go to the loo. I haven’t eaten there, so also can’t say anything about the food or service, but if you have, please do let me know what it’s like in comments.


Drive: 10 mins
Address: The Forge – Lewes Road, Selmeston, Polegate, BN26 6UE
Tel no.: 01323 811 033
Open: Mon-Sat, 11am-11pm (Food: 12 noon-5pm + 6-9pm); Sun, 12 noon-10pm (Food: 12 noon-7pm)

Disclosure: My family and I stopped at The Barley Mow on the way back from an outing and I decided to write a post about it because I though it was good for a pint and a play. The Barley Mow did not know I would be writing this post and I didn’t introduce myself. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or accepted for the writing of it.

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

4 thoughts on “Pubs with Playgrounds: The Barley Mow, Selmeston, East Sussex

  1. Great article… I haven’t eaten there also, but have sat inside for a drink. I love the atmosphere and the lovely throws over wooden benches – it reminds me of a ski lodge! Their menu also looks lovely… Can’t wait to try it soon!

    1. Oooooo nice to know Sophie – love the ski lodge reference! Might have to head there for a cosy pint come winter (but can’t think about winter right now of course!). Kate x

  2. Myself and my partner stopped at The Barley Mow for a meal. I ordered Scampi and Chips with a salad. My partner ordered Ham, Egg and Chips. When our meals came we had to send both meals back. Both of our meals were cold and inedible. We then received them back and unfortunately my scampi was soft and falling apart. My partner’s ham was tough and his chips were still not warm enough. We had paid £23.65 (including £2.15 service charge). I left all of my dinner and my partner left quite a bit of his. The scampi was soft and soggy and had obviously been heated up in the microwave.

    1. Hi and thank you for the comment – I don’t work for The Barley Mow and mine was an independent review based on going there with kids and having a drink in the garden (I think I mentioned that I hadn’t eaten there and didn’t know what the food was like, so I hope my review wasn’t the reason you went to eat there!). I’m currently away on holiday, but I’ll endeavour to pass this on to the pub when I’m back by way of feedback. I think it’s useful for them to know that people aren’t happy. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. Best, Kate

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