Owner in talks to bring jazz back to village pub

PLANS to bring jazz – and other live music – back to Boxford with the refurbishment and re-opening of the village’s famous Fleece pub have been revealed.

New owner John Norton says he has approached the Fleece Jazz, which now meets at Stoke-by-Nayland golf club and is waiting to hear whether it will transfer back to its “true home”.

“If we got the jazz back it would be good while, at the same time, also catering for other musical tastes as well,” said Mr Norton.

“I have approached them about coming back here from Stoke-by-Nayland but we will have to wait and see.”

Renowned jazz musician Jamie Cullum played at regular jazz events held at The Fleece, which became famous for attracting big names in the jazz world.

Mr Norton said everyone appreciated the fact that the pub’s function room had great acoustics and a wonderful atmosphere.

“It has a lovely feel to it and it lends itself to live music,” he said.

“In future, we would like to cater for all tastes in music, from jazz to classical and even opera.”

Mr Norton owns the White Horse pub in Edwardstone which offers camping facilities, holiday accommodation and is home to the Mill Green Brewery where beer and real ales are brewed for the pub.

The Fleece was sold by pub-chain Punch Taverns earlier this year, with Mr Norton revealing the for sale sign had not yet been removed because he “hadn’t got around to it”.

He said: “We are waiting to paint the outside and I think work on the windows at the front is scheduled for the next couple of weeks, so we can attend to the sign then.”

The pub will continue to offer food and room hire for functions, as well as accommodation in the future. Mr Norton says he wants to bring the pub and hotel back to its former glory but still keep the character and atmosphere of a village pub.

“It is one of the most historic buildings in Boxford, it’s grade II listed and we want to do the refurbishment job properly, so it’s taking a bit longer than we had at first thought,” said Mr Norton.

“We will probably paint the outside cream and we are thinking about what to do about the pub sign – whether to keep it or change it slightly, but we need to think very carefully about that. We want it to be called The Fleece Hotel, which it was before.”

He said workers had found evidence of the age of the building.

“They were in the loft the other day doing some work and there was a date on some old plaster dating back to 1481,” he said.

“There are seven or eight chimneys, some of which are hidden inside. It’s a very old building, not big, but it’s difficult to tell where parts have been added on.”

The rear roof of the building and drainage are currently being completed, with plans to have the bar open by September.