Located on the bank of the beautiful River Crouch with views across the river to open countryside. New members and guests are always welcome with membership at a low nominal yearly fee. The river is home for many activities with small and large craft travelling further up to Battlesbridge or launching to go skiing eastwards towards Burnham on Crouch. Most weekends sailing dinghies can be seen racing from the adjacent Hullbridge Yacht Club or from Eyott Yacht Club on the northern side of the river in Fen Creek. Sunsets over the river are a real joy, all of which can be viewed from our Private River Garden with tables of varying capacities for individuals or groups.
The Smugglers Den building itself has been on site for hundreds of years formerly as Pig Sheds for the adjacent building now removed, and then as Coal Bunkers which is where the Smuggling connection started. There are many stories regarding activities during this period of a tunnel that ran from the rear of the club underground to the Pink Cottage a few hundred yards along Ferry Road. There is evidence in the Smugglers and in the Cottage of this tunnel, but no proof that it is connected.
Stories also follow of a young boy who was trapped in the tunnel who still haunts the building to this day. Whether true or not, it is recorded that smuggling in the Crouch was rife with taxable goods being smuggled down on Thames Barges that plied a trade with Coal deliveries inbound and returning with Hay or Bricks manufactured in Hullbridge just up from where the carpark stands today. Further down river some of the names lead to such activities, and it is thought that Brandy Hole, was a drop off point for larger ships with the Brandy etc, being collected on smaller boats and brought to the Smugglers Den for collection on Ferry Road slipway, or storage amongst the coal.
Around the turn of the century Hullbridge became a tourist area for day tripping Londoners many of whom bought plot lands along the river and throughout the village starting a small village community. At this point the Coal sheds were converted to become The Pavilion, which was a Tea bar with dances and social events for the locals. Around 1927 the building eventually was extended and licensed to sell alcohol with its name changed to the Smugglers Den Club. Up unto 1988 the ‘Club Licence’ allowed the Smugglers Den to stay open later than local pubs, and the Club always had an influx of customers after the pubs closed going on in those days to two o’clock in the morning. In the 60’s the club came alive with the influx of young people buying houses in the new Owen Johnson estate. Many musicians frequented the stage, notably Procal Harem’s lead singer Gary Brooker had his wedding reception at the club. On the corridor wall is a large painting by a local musician and artist Franky Mead who was a frequent musician and today his son plays in a band called the Playbacks on the same stage! Another interesting fact is the Mickey Welton Band who first played the Smugglers Den in 1967, and still play the Smugglers to this day, with Mickey and John Donnelly still going strong from the original line up!
Being such an old quirky building with a rich history, it’s bound to be frequented by more than the drinkable type of spirit. We have some regular ghostly visitors, who give us a warm hearted cheeky touch now and then. When Angie is preparing a buffet in the kitchen we particularly feel Mary gently touch our shoulders, she loved the place so much, she needs to know we are doing it right! A lady who appears to glide through the saloon has scared some folk, she exits through the side of the fireplace where there used to be a door to the outside. A male spirit is very keen on giving us a gift of one glove. We can be totally alone, cleaning, when a glove will appear on a surface we have just cleared. We named him Godfrey the Glove Ghost! The wine glasses often rattle and Mat’s quick footwork has often saved a bottle launched from an optic.
When Angie is upstairs in the Healing Rooms, sometimes a loving female spirit ‘helps’ with the therapy, some clients have also sensed her. One time during a healing meditation circle, a friend had an amazing spiritual journey where she met and frolicked with her departed much loved horse. While discussing this with the circle, we noticed her coat sleeve was drenched, and there was water on the shelf behind her. She said that in her meditation she played in the river with her horse, as she did when he was alive. There was no material way that the water could have got there. We felt truly blessed.
The Smugglers Den is a ‘Free house’ and as such is not tied to any specific supply so occasionally, we will refresh our selection but currently we believe we offer a good selection of the best Beers, Lager and Ciders available. We have 3 real Ales on draft currently Sharps ‘Doombar’, Adnams ‘Ghost Ship’ and Mosaic. When available we also have our own ‘Smugglers Ale’ which is always a crowd pleaser.
The aroma of Doombar combines an accomplished balance of spicy resinous hop, inviting sweet malt and delicate roasted notes. The mouthfeel is perfectly balanced with a complex blend of succulent dried fruit, light roasted malty notes and a subtle yet assertive bitterness. The bitterness remains into the finish with dry fruity notes that implore the drinker to go back for more.
Adnams Ghost Ship is a ghostly pale ale which takes its inspiration from Adnams 600-year-old haunted pub, The Bell. Brewed with a selection of malts - Pale Ale, Rye Crystal and Cara, Citra, and a blend of other American hop varieties to create some great citrus flavours. Bronze Medal Winner at The International Brewing Awards, 2013
For Cider drinkers we can offer:-
Old Rosie on draft,
or for the purist’s guest draft Scrumpy.
We also carry an extensive wine range to cater for all tastes and budgets stretching to a Don Perignon if the occasion warrants it!
The rear bar section is full of any other tipple that takes your fancy with many Artisan Gins and Vodkas whiskies and all spirits.
Camden Pale Ale - We Love Our American Cousins But sometimes they can be kind of full on. So we’ve crafted this beer to more British tastes. Made with American hops, it’s still got all the punch of a pale ale. Just less shouty. We don’t need no pasteurisation. We like it better that way.
The world’s most iconic beer brand with 10 million glasses sold every day worldwide. Pure beauty.
On Draft we have Camden Hells, Blue Moon, Stella Artois, Budweiser, Bud Light and Fosters.
Camden Hells – Hells is the lovechild of our two favourite German beer styles - Clean, crisp and dry, it’s the beer we always wanted to drink and the reason they started their brewery.
Blue Moon– A wheat beer brewed with orange peel for a subtle sweetness and bright, citrus aroma.
Stella Artois – With its wonderful floral aroma, well-balanced malt sweetness, crisp hop bitterness, and a soft dry finish, Stella Artois is the perfect beer to pair with food and friends. Winner of the 2019 World Beer Award for World’s Best International Lager.
Budweiser – is a medium-bodied, flavorful, crisp American-style lager. Brewed with the best barley malt and a blend of premium hop varieties.
Bud Light – Brewed the same way since 1982, a refreshing American-style light lager beer with a clean, crisp taste and fast finish.
Fosters – With its Australian heritage, it truly embodies the Australian ‘no worries’ attitude to life. Foster’s is a light, golden lager with a medium malt character.
In addition, we carry a large selection of bottled Lager and Beers and alcohol-free versions.
Receive a 10% discount on all Draft Real Ales on presentation of a valid CAMRA membership card.
Always assured of a warm welcome by the 'Smuggs' family pleased to be part of the industry of human happiness.
Responsible for talking, pointing, drinking, occasional singing and arranging things Angie needs doing!
Sam Sparkles, pretty face on the team and head of security, no one messes with Sam
Jay the most welcoming, entertaining and talented open mic host this side of Graceland
Steve Colman whos talents on the mixing desk are only surpassed by his guitar work