To get the place ship-shape was a major undertaking new ceilings, new toilets, refurbished bar counter and a host of behind the scenes jobs. Steve told me that the pub had been abandoned Marie Celeste style by its previous owners; they found a half-full pint on the bar and part-full optics. The work was hastened by villagers in both a paid and voluntary capacity and the locals are, needless to say, delighted to have their pub back. The main, L-shaped bar is simply furnished with tile floor, assorted furniture and a games area at one end; the imminent arrival of a large bookcase and sofa will help make the latter a more separate space. An ancient bread oven was uncovered next to the fire and Hazel hopes to get this operating again.
Across the entrance corridor is a small room to be used as a restaurant cooking will have begun by the time you read this. Traditional pub food is the aim with only six or seven dishes but done very well and amply portioned. Food will be locally sourced where possible and very local in some cases vegetables will be grown in the large plot at the back which will also be home to chickens and two Suffolk black pigs.
The walls in both rooms are hung with very attractive paintings by a village artist (and they're for sale). The large main restaurant area will reopen later in the year.
On the beer front, Adnams refitted the cellar and supply the beers and wines the former being Adnams Bitter, Woodforde's Wherry and an Adnams guest (Ghost Ship on my visit). When the pub had a special pre-opening for the village on bonfire night, the beer and wine was free every pub-goer's dream.
Steve is keen to encourage traditional pub games such as backgammon and crib as well as bar billiards and darts. He also plans to put on regular music. The land to the right of the pub will be developed as a play area and boules pitch.
A final point of interest is the striking new pub sign, hand-painted by Suffolk artist Peter McGain.
It's great to see this fine old pub open again and in such good hands. With the long-closed Three Blackbirds in neighbouring Woodditton also reopening, perhaps the tide is turning a little for our rural pubs, in this area at least.