We are lucky enough to live in a country with a wonderful variety of pubs: gastropubs, pubby pubs, town pubs, city pubs, seaside pubs, in-the-middle-of-nowhere pubs and village pubs just like The Duke of Wellington in East Horsley. A beautiful 500-year-old building re-modelled in Victorian times by local landowner Lord Lovelace and named after the hero of the day, The Duke of Wellington.
The pub stirs strong emotions in our British souls. Of course we all want slightly different things – give me a roaring fire, comfy chair, cold bottle of Sancerre and a lemon sole (or even a packet of scampi fries at a push) and you can count me in for the long haul. But, on the whole, what makes a great pub is a heady mixture of a good pint, glass of wine or a proper coffee, honest food, real hospitality and a happy hum of conversation punctuated with bursts of laughter. And we can’t forget about those things which set the scene – good lighting (bright where you need it, moody where you don’t), interesting stuff on the walls and decoration that highlights the charm of an old building in a sympathetic way.
And there you have it. The starting point for the mood board for our refurb: preserving a 500-year-old building, a respectful nod to an historic hero and a celebration of the Great British Pub. Now, I wouldn’t want to blow our own regimental trumpets but I think – and hope – we have achieved just that.
There’s an elemental feel to the décor at the Duke of Wellington now with lots of wood and exposed brick, copper hues which sing from the walls, low-lighting and sumptuous velvets but, most importantly, there is a space for everyone. A proper bar for the locals to share their day over a pint, cosy firesides at which hunker down with a friend, an elegant dining area for couples, families and friends to sit down and enjoy some real and delicious food and even a snug for your very own party. And when we see the sun again (maybe that should be ‘if’) there is a great garden to while away those glorious long summer’s days.
The Duke of Wellington rightly feels as though it has been part of East Horsley scene for centuries. We hope it shall be for many more. Time for another drink I think.