Pub that has stood for five centuries in Minley is thought to be haunted by friendly spirits
A trellis laden with grape vines and a boulevard of perfumed herb boxes leads visitors from a car park to a leafy country pub in Minley.
Off the beaten track and opposite a pristine cricket field, The Crown and Cushion offers a chic yet traditional drinking experience.
Having taken over the pub in Minley Road on July 1, Ben Edwards turned the 500-year-old rustic venue into a stylish inn that still retains the pub’s rich history.
As part of the revamp, Mr Edwards has re-launched the pub’s medieval hidden treasure, The Meade Hall at the rear of the venue.
The Meade Hall was originally believed to have been the remains from two old barns, one of these being the 16th century barn from the Salisbury area.
Some of the timbers in the barn’s structure are thought to have come from vessels defeated in the Spanish Armada.
The barn was discovered by Albion Taverns in the West Country in the 1970s. The brewers decided it was the perfect match to stand next to The Crown and Cushion pub.
The barn was transported from Salisbury in 1978 on a low loader lorry and reconstructed on the site between 1978 and 1980.
The Meade Hall was first opened in March 1980 and the ceremony was attended by a number of local dignitaries.
The pub itself was built in 1512 and turned into an ale house in 1596 so the two buildings originated from the same period in the sixteenth century.
The barn, like the original pub, has a flagstone floor, the roof was made of modern materials as the original roof tiles had disintegrated.
RS Contractors, the company chosen to achieve this massive project, had the difficult task of retaining the character of the original barn and at the same time had to meet with the building regulations of the 1970s.
The Meade Hall, like the pub, is believed to be haunted, the spirits have been seen by many local people over the years and are believed to be friendly, just like the proprietors.
The hall, now in the 21st century, is filled with dark wooden furniture, armour and wall hangings and lit by candle flame.
It has retained its 16th century charm and is used for weddings, engagement parties and special birthdays.
Equipped with a bar and space for 150 guests, staff cater from barbecue requests and hog roasts to three course meals and a la carte dining.
Mr Edwards said: “In the past Meade Hall was the place to go.
“You would get the old boys drinking jugs of ale and smoking pipes. We would like to get the pub back to that sort of stage.
“We welcome families with children. They are the customers of the future.”
On September 22, the pub will launch its Sunday carvery offering families a selection of four meats, seasonal vegetables and comforting puddings.
It is the first of a number of features the pub will introduce over the coming months.
Mr Edwards said: “As part of our refurbishment we cleaned the chimney, painted, trimmed the trees back, jet washed the patio and Meade Hall floor, put hanging baskets up and started kitting out the garden with new furniture.
“The herbs and leaves grown in our herb garden are used in our cooking and we would like to become even more self-sufficient.”
He said when the pub re-opened under Barons Pub management, six members of the floor staff were retained, two of which are university students who work during the holidays.
Since the pub reopened 10 weeks-ago following a two day intensive refurbishment, the menu has changed twice to suit the season and there is a regular daily specials board.
The menu combines classic British dishes including bubble and squeak and Cumberland sausage and mash, but also more contemporary plates such as crispy duck and king prawn and monkfish oriental skillet.
Each dish is presented delicately and generously and the pudding menu includes baked apple tart and white chocolate cheesecake.
On warmer days, customers can dine on the botanic patio hedged with bamboo plants or in the snug and comforting restaurant to escape the cold.