This famous pub close to the home of English rugby union is now part of the Fuller’s stable, with a refurbished interior appealing
to a much wider public than its ruggerish reputation suggests.
In the first decade of the 20th century, Billy Williams turned his market garden in Twickenham into a rugby pitch that played host to
the first England v Wales international. Eventually the site was gifted to the Rugby Football Union and developed into the second
biggest stadium in the UK after Wembley – but it’s still known affectionately to fans by the nickhame ‘Billy Williams’ cabbage
patch.’ Thus the name of this sprawling pub diagonally opposite Twickenham station and en route to the stadium, a popular rendezvous
for before and after match crowds.
Fuller’s took over the Cabbage Patch in 2011 and fully refurbished it early in 2012, retaining the rugby theme. Outside a new white paint job
has left the building looking rather less forbidding than the previous yellow and black. Inside are several interconnected rooms with
a slightly eccentric, loungey feel – aged wooden tables, a mix of seats including some unusual tip-up ones, padded benches and
cushions. Rugby memorabilia – shirts, balls, photos – are on display and even some of the wallpaper and furniture fabric depicts the
game. There’s a relatively large heated garden and function and conference rooms for hire.
The pub’s other historical connection besides rugby is music. There’s a nightclub upstairs and it’s also the longstanding host both
of Twickfolk (the Twickenham Folk Club) and the Eel Pie Rhythm and Blues Club. This latter is a continuation of a local tradition
that started on nearby Eel Pie Island in the 1960s and has featured such legends as Ronnie Wood and Geno Washington.
The pub has a split personality. On match days it’s predictably heaving with rugby fans and certainly not a place to go for a quiet
drink. At other times it’s family friendly and welcomes a wide range of drinkers and diners, with a good gender mix. The live music
and other events bring in their own followers. Big screens and loudish recorded music don’t make for an intimate atmosphere, though,
and the place works better when full and lively. There’s a regular weekly quiz.
The menu at the Cabbage Patch makes a feature of pizzas (from £6.30) but also stretches to pub grub staples like beef and ale pie
(£8.95), sausage and mash (£7.95), spatchcock chicken (£11.95), vegetarian pasta or salmon fishcakes. It’s open for breakfast, there
are £5 meal deals for weekday lunch, offers on pizzas and wine on Monday to Wednesday evenings, and a children’s menu at £5.25.
The Cabbage Patch was previously tied to Heineken and the deal with Fuller’s has meant that unusually beers from both suppliers share
space on an expanded range of handpumps. Besides London Pride, ESB and Fuller’s seasonal you’re likely to find several Caledonian
beers such as Deuchars IPA, seasonals and specials, and guests from the likes of Brain’s – the latter no doubt to keep visiting Welsh
fans happy. There’s a good range of 27 wines including several by the glass, some single malts and the standard keg beers and stouts.
The Last Word
A must-visit for rugby and rhythm and blues fans, the Cabbage Patch should also appeal to those seeking a family friendly pub in the
area, and the improved beer range following the Fuller’s takeover is a notable extra asset. Check the Twickenham fixtures calendar
before you set out, though!