INN PROFILE: The Inn at Fossebridge, near Cirencester
Midway between Northleach and Cirencester lies this 17th century coaching inn: a fine example of Georgian architecture set in four acres of grounds, complete with a lake. You can enjoy casual dining indoors or out, or stay over in one of its bedrooms or holiday cottages…
The Inn at Fossebridge is located in the hamlet of Fossebridge, just six miles north of Cirencester, where the Fosse Way drops into the valley of the River Coln. There has been an inn here for more than 300 years and today it is a charming retreat, with the original features remaining – exposed beams, stone walls, open fires and polished flagstone floors.
Experienced hotelier Dee Ludlow and her partner Geoff Collins became the new owners in late 2014, after the property equivalent of love at first sight. Dee explains, “We had looked at 40+ other properties all over England, Scotland and Wales but when we walked into The Inn at Fossebridge, we turned and looked at each other within 30 seconds and said, ’Yes, this is it’.
The rest is history.”
Dee and Geoff immediately identified a lot of work that needed to be done but the major project was to rip out the kitchen and start again. Dee says, “We needed to ensure that the new kitchen was ’fit for purpose’. Five weeks after we purchased the inn, back in October 2014, we craned in a mobile kitchen and then totally stripped out the existing area and started again. The work was well planned and the total renovation only took three weeks. We opened on 8 December, just in time for Christmas.”
The inn’s daily specials and dining menus include dishes such as Honey Baked Capricorn Goats Cheese Salad with toasted pine nuts; Chargrilled Fossebridge Steak Sandwich with sautéed mushrooms and onions; and local Chedworth Pork Chop with a cider and apple sauce. Head Chef Dave Carter and his team have made casual dining their particular focus and overlay popular dishes such as Prawn Cocktail, Fish and Chips, Cottage Pie and Burgers with a wow factor to produce ’best you’ve ever tasted’ meals.
In addition to à la carte, lunch and dinner menus, there are always freshly made sandwiches at lunchtime, Sunday roasts and a separate children’s menu. The kitchen likes to prepare lighter, fresher dishes in the summer and more robust, warming dishes during the winter. It also has a separate pie menu, offering hot water pastry pies with fillings including Rich Shin of Beef, Breton Chicken and Cotswold Venison. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for, although the kitchen does request advance notice for its vegan menu to ensure that it has all the fresh ingredients to hand.
Situated in the grounds are two dog friendly holiday cottages, Stable Cottage (which sleeps four adults and two children) and Lakeside House (which sleeps ten), both Grade II listed buildings. As its name suggests, Stable Cottage was formerly the stables for the neighbouring coaching inn and has been renovated to create a wonderfully characterful property. There are also nine bedrooms in the main house, each individually furnished with antique and period furniture.
The inn is known for being child and dog friendly, so makes an ideal base for families or walkers to have lunch when heading through the Coln valley towards Stowell Park, Yanworth or the National Trust’s Chedworth Roman Villa.
During the summer, the four acre garden with its wooden tables, chairs and parasols, offers the perfect spot to enjoy a drink, lunch or dinner al fresco. If you are planning your wedding, the Inn has two beautiful rooms with direct access to the terrace and lawns offering wonderful views over the gardens. The maximum numbers for a wedding breakfast are 58 but larger weddings can be catered for in a marquee on the lawn.
There are several new projects in the pipeline for Dee and Geoff who clearly thrive on being busy. Dee adds, “We are thoroughly enjoying being the owners of The Inn at Fossebridge and very proud that we are enhancing this beautiful building. It is a pleasure to serve our guests, many of whom tell us they have been passing The Inn for years and never stopped but that they are so pleased they did and will return. We are passionate about the quality of our Real Ales and our food and we are honoured to have recently been awarded The North Cotswold CAMRA Seasonal Pub of the Year 2016.”
The Inn at Fossebridge: 01285 720721 / GL54 3JS / fossebridgeinn.co.uk