By Hattie Ellis 

Lockdown. What did you do? Sculptor-carpenter Pat Seaman and designer Hattie Spice used reclaimed materials to make The Dragon’s Rest, a pub-shed complete with beer garden for their St Leonards home. 

These two freelancers, suddenly faced with cancelled projects and no work, put their creativity to good use. Pat had promised Hattie a shed and this became his way to focus his time and energy in strange times. Then they decided to make it dual purpose: both potting shed and pub.

“I love a pub and desperately miss them,” says Pat. “It’s that community – you walk in and see faces you know, and you can stay for half an hour or six hours; it’s a world of its own. We wanted to create our own little pub and as lockdown rules ease, friends could come and visit.”

Pat’s journey – captured on his Instagram @patrickseaman13 should you want to have a go yourself – was a learning curve of how to do a cabin project on a small scale. “I was trying to do something in a tight space to make it look grand but not ridiculous,” he summarises.

Four weeks later: a pub shed made almost entirely of reclaimed materials complete with serving hatch, a mini-bar (later to get optics), a pub garden that includes offcuts of the old pier boards from Pat’s furniture making, a roof of weathered corrugated tin from Romney Marsh, and an interior that Hattie created from pieces of wallpaper and with a mosaic stencilled painted floor. 

The name came from Pat’s Welsh family and their lockdown family-favourite films, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Hattie painted the inn sign, Tolkien’s Smaug the Dragon on a pile of gold, from the illustration on the paperback of The Hobbit that Pat’s dad read to him as a child. 

Sort-throughs yielded a ceramic dragon for the roof that needed its wing mending – another lockdown job – and some colourful French cocktail glasses for the house special Mojitos and a new discovery, The Sidecar (recipe opposite). 

These two freelancers put their creativity to good use

The grand opening came on Hattie’s birthday, for a clientele of four, with their son Finn and dog Jake, who likes to stand at the bar. Since then, the pub has been opened up to friends a couple of times a week, sometimes with pub food provided by favourite take-outs such as Ocean Spice, special kebabs from Batman Grill – served in the pub, not after, and – naturally – fish and chips. 

Hastings has a fantastic variety of pubs, says Pat. His favourites include his local for footie, The Tower; the cosy booths and music of the FILO; the pub garden at The Marina Fountain; the food at The Crown; the pies at The Albion; the beer at The Imperial – the trendy experimental new pubs and the good old trads. Work comes from chat over beer, he says, as well as social contact with a healthy mix of people. 

Let’s face it: we’ve missed our pubs, now opening up with social distancing in mind. 

For Pat and Hattie, The Dragon’s Rest has been a positive way to get through lockdown. “Like everyone else, I’ve been through ups and downs – the weirdness at the beginning, money worries; then that eerie, lovely peace and enjoying family time,” says Pat. “But getting up in the morning to do the shed gave me complete focus.” 

The Dragon’s Rest has been shortlisted for Shed of the Year and one or two inquiries have come in from others wanting a very local Local. One question: can you have a lock-in at a lockdown pub where you make your own rules?

You can vote for The Dragon’s Rest in the Budget section of Shed of the Year Pat’s website:

The Dragon’s Rest Sidecar

This classic brandy cocktail is a little bit bitter and sharp but also has sweetness – but not too much – and a bit of a kick, says Pat. They have it without ice, or you can shake it over ice.

1 part lemon juice
1 part Cointreau
2 parts brandy, Cognac for preference
a little bit of sugar syrup

Mix together and pour into glasses found in lockdown sort-outs or local rummage shops. Top with a twist of orange peel.

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