Top village pubs earn place in new guide

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Stepping into a pub in an unknown area can be a hit-and-miss. You either end up taking a seat in a cosy corner or beating a hasty retreat.

But those entering The Bull in Long Melford or The Swan in Lavenham could probably be forgiven for thinking they had stepped back in time given that the two establishments have just been named in a new historic pub guide.

Both pubs, which also offer rooms for the night, feature in Ye Olde Good Inn Guide.

Published this month, the book delves into the history of some of the country’s best ancient inns and what has kept drinkers going back for centuries.

The Bull in Hall Street is a perfect example of what authors James Moore and Paul Nero were searching for with it frontage dating back to 1450. The building was built for a wealthy wool merchant in the village and was turned into a hotel in 1580.

“It is a fantastic place to work in,” said manager Gary Hodgson. “There are lots of impressive beams and there is a great feel. There is just so much character.”

The hotel employs 32 staff and all were pleased to hear that it had earned a place in the guide.

“We didn’t know anything about it until this week,” said Mr Hodgson. “It is a pleasant surprise.”

The Swan in Lavenham High Street is similarly impressive and has plenty of oak beams and open fires reminiscent of years gone by.

“The whole hotel has that feel of history due to its age and the ambience it creates,” said front of house manager Amanda Gomersall, who has worked there for eight years.

“I never tire of walking in as it is such a lovely building and I think it is certainly worthy of a place in the guide.”

Co-author Mr Moore said he had been intrigued by both pubs and who would have visited them in the past.

“Suffolk has a rich heritage of historic pubs, inns and hotels and this book helps people find the best and reveals their incredible history,” he said.

“The Tudor period was the golden age of the alehouse and inn and this guide gives people the chance to step back into the world of Shakespeare and Elizabeth I to enjoy a drink in atmospheric places which they may very well have frequented themselves.”