Welcome to the Blog! A new and exciting platform for our team to keep you involved in all the exciting goings on in our three wonderful Inns situated in the beautiful three counties of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.
First off let me get a quick introduction out of the way! My name is Sarah and I have worked with the Free Spirit Pub team now for the last three amazing years! As a recent new mummy my role has changed within the team and I am now part of the Media crew for all of our establishments! It’s a pretty exciting element to be a part of and one of the things I will be curating and sharing is our wonderful new Blog!
Before we dive into posts over the coming months about wedding events, delicious dishes, new ventures and our Free Spirit Pub Team I thought we could delve into a little bit of history about each of our sites! First up….
THE CASTLE AT EDGHILL
The Castle is one of our more historic and let’s face it impressive locations! It was the first of the Free Spirit Pub Company established in 2014 and had to undergo much love to restore it to its present day glory. Situated on the summit of Edgehill it is famous for its views across the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire countryside.
It is reputed to sit on the site where King Charles raised his standard before the Royalist clash with Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians; in what was at the start of the English Civil War. The two armies of similar size; approximately 12,000 men, continued for two days with many perishing and neither side gaining a decisive victory. Since that day there have been numerous ghostly sightings in the area. One such occasion in the Christmas of 1642 drew so much attention that a pamphlet was printed “A great Wonder in heaven” detailing all the ghostly goings on! It is said a ghostly re-enactment could be heard with screams of horses, clashes of armour and cries of the dying alongside apparitions! We still have rumours of sightings today at particular times of the year; if your into all that spooky stuff then come and join us…maybe stop over if you dare.
The 18th century mock Folly was created 100 years later on the site by the owner of Radway Grange at the time; Sanderson Miller and was based on Guys Tower at Warwick Castle. Today the “castle” is owned by the Hook Norton Brewery and is part of the Free Spirit Pub Company. It has four beautiful on-suite guest rooms, a cosy library restaurant and bar and a modern glasshouse which has floor to ceiling windows commanding views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a perfect location for a Wedding, with nuptials regularly held throughout the year for that perfect fairy-tale wedding. They also have ability to hold large functions and events to cater all needs.
The Castle is also ideally situated for exploring the beautiful northern Cotswolds; with wonderful sites on its doorstep such as the National Trust’s Upton House, the wonderful parkland and house of Compton Verney and the tucked away Broughton Castle. If you fancy a tour with something different there is the local Cotswold Distillery, Hook Norton Brewery, British motor museum and even a 1 hour pre-arranged Battlefield Trail tour! So plenty of things to do for all the family!
THE SUN INN AT HOOK NORTON
Down long by-roads from ancient ridgeways, winding through beautiful Cotswold countryside is Hook Norton; well known around the country as the home of Hook Norton Brewery. During the 19th Century most towns, cities and even large villages like Hook Norton had their own brewery. As the years have gone past, unfortunately many of these traditional breweries have gone into decline and closed. However here in Hook Norton we still have the Hook Norton brewery established in 1849 by John Harris it is still owned by the same family today. The building is an imposing piece of architecture designed by William Bradford & Sons of London and has wonderful brewery tours you can pre-book to gain an insight into brewing life.
The Hook Norton brewery owned many properties in the county one of which is the 18th century ironstone building that is The Sun Inn. The Sun Inn was once actually two separate inns; The Sun Inn and The Red Lion and is set in the very heart of the village of hook Norton. Between the Inn and the Church was once the local Market ground; a hub of activity surrounded by a smithy, ironmongers and a Tailer. It was also the site of traditional village festivals such as maypole dancing; where the community gathered and celebrated.
Today this British Cotswold Inn brimming with rich history offers a contemporary dining experience combined with a traditional pub atmosphere. The Inn has 6 wonderful guest rooms, a cosy quirky bar and restaurant area with rooms for hire. Community is a big part of The sun Inn and they support many local groups and teams like the wonderful “Aunt Sally” Teams which as a Leicester girl I had never heard of! A quirky traditional game where a player throws sticks/battons at a model of an old women’s head!
The Inn is situated in the perfect location for exploring the heart of the Cotswolds, with towns such as Chipping Norton, Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-the-Marsh on the door step. Or keep it local and explore the wonderful historic village of Hook Norton with tours of the brewey and the village available.
I intend to find out more about this wonderful area in the coming months so make sure you follow the blog.
THE RED LION AT HELLIDON
Our third wonderful inn to our collection is the fantastic Red Lion. Situated in the picturesque village of Hellidon with its beautiful ironstone and ferruginous limestone cottages in a parish of Northamptonshire. The birthplace of the River Leam rises from leam house at the eastern edge of the village and there are many scenic walks around the area including the Hellidon circular, which takes in the amazing refurbed Tower Windmill and down pass the Red Lion. As well as much larger tasking walks like the Jurassic way from Banbury to Stamford there are many offshoots and hidden gems for the avid walker to explore.
Hellidon did not appear in the Domesday Book, but by the 13th century had developed into a parish with two manor houses – Baskervilles and Giffords. The 14th Century church is at the hub of the village pattern of two conjoining loops. When the church bells rang out for victory in North Africa it was discovered that during their world war two silence, bees had set up camp in the belfry and laid over a hundred weight in honey! Providing honey for all the villagers for the rest of the year!
The Red Lion was taken over by the Free Spirit Pub Company in 2019 and modernised; creating a beautiful village pub with six quirky letting rooms and country kitchen serving locally sourced freshly prepared food. Located within easy reach of Daventry, Banbury and Rugby it’s the perfect mini get away to relax and unwind.
So that has set the scene! It has been lovely delving into the background of each our Free Spirit Pubs! I know I have only touched on the history of our Inn’s so it would be lovely to get some feedback, hidden stories and even photos; particularly about are shiny new place The Red Lion. So please get in touch [email protected]
See you Soon