INNS AROUND THE ISLAND
Drawn and written by A W R Caws
The Crab Hotel, Shanklin
SOME PEOPLE SAY that there has been a Crab Inn on its present site in the old village, Shanklin for over four hundred years. Certainly it has been there for a very long time. The name, according to local legend, derives from a fish market which was believed .to exist on this spot and to which fishermen brought their catches of crabs and lobsters, for which this coast was, and is, famous.
The original inn appears to have consisted of a six room building with stables at the rear. In the present grill room there is an oil painting of these buildings and surrounding houses painted by J Rowley in the latter part of the last century. What is now the Cabin Bar (which has a distinctly maritime flavour) stands on the site of the old stables, and up above, the hay loft together with its hoist still remains.
The large lounge with its long bar was added about one hundred years ago and is most attractive, with its low dark timber beams festooned with rows of gleaming metal tankards and other decorative objects. In this bar there is a wealth of interesting items including three quaint soap-stone carvings in small frames, probably of considerable age. Polished brass and copper articles are here in great variety and a diverse assortment of weapons, swords, pistols, harpoons and knives. A large tank housing a number of tropical fish provides a splash of colour and movement. There is a good example of marquetry depicting the inn as it is today, and an added attraction, on a cold winter evening, is the cheerful open fire. In the grill room there are six large oil paintings of famous inns in various parts of the country painted in the traditional manner by artist A R Leigh in the 1930's.
Outside the door of the public bar is a drinking fountain recording a verse by the poet Longfellow which opens with the lines '0 traveller stay thy weary feet, drink of this fountain pure and sweet.' Both Longfellow and Keats are associated with this district, Keats Green being just a short distance away, and it is possible that they in their day, enjoyed its hospitality.
Situated in the heart of the old village 'The Crab' with its thatched roof and old carved timbers is the focal point for the district and it has, for generations, been a very popular haunt for both young and old, offering good drink, food and company to Islanders and many thousands of holiday-makers.
The outside appearance is enhanced in the summer months by gaily coloured umbrellas in the garden. The Crab is run by Mr and Mrs G Moore, Mrs Moore's family having been connected with the management of the Inn for over a quarter of a century.
The friendly and courteous service which, under their direc- tion, prevails helps to give 'The Crab' that undefineable quality we call atmosphere.