Slow Cotswolds

  • Help to save the Fox and Hounds pub at Great Wolford

    Visitor attractions, restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels come and go all the time. It may be through retirement, change of use or for economic reasons. Very occasionally it can be with ill intent.

    Sometimes it's a disappointment that a venue closes down but you move on and find somewhere new to go. Occasionally it's an outrage and there's a need to fight for its survival. The Fox and Hounds in Great Wolford is such a place.

    Within the first edition of Slow Cotswolds, I included detail about Great Wolford (page 72) and its neighbouring villages Todenham and Barton-on-the-Heath. The text says, "It would take appreciable effort to cover every village in this small pocket of south Warwickshire but virtually every one is worth taking the time to explore. Todenham has a fine church, its spire a landmark for miles around. Great Wolford has one of the cosiest pubs in the area and Barton-on-the-Heath has Barton House, a fine Elizabethan manor house...."

    Within the food and drink listings for the locale I then provide the address and further details for the Fox and Hounds, describing it as a 'Very pretty Cotswold stone pub with courtyard. Authentic, cosy interior brimming with character. Great food. Accommodation too."

    Todenham still has its church. Barton-on-the-Heath still has its Elizabethan manor house. Sadly, Great Wolford no longer has its cosy pub. That's not to say that the wonderful building is no longer there. It is. But the pub closed down in 2016 and, as I was preparing the update for the 2nd edition of the book, I very regrettably had to remove any reference to the Fox and Hounds.

    No big deal one might say. Well, it is a great loss not only to the residents of the village but to the wider world. A pub since the 16th century, the Fox and Hounds has been an award-winning pub, a pub where visitors would travel long distances simply to visit and enjoy the character, the ambience and the great food and drink. It was quirky, with flagged floors and low beams, small, cosy rooms with settles and Windsor chairs. Fresh hops hung from the beams and you could walk in with muddy wellies or a pair of high heels. It was always busy and the food was good. Very good.

    I can recall regularly frequenting the pub, especially during the winter when the night's were frozen but the pub was welcomingly warm. My husband and I would go for a particular reason - they served a serious portion of Beef in Beer with the tastiest of crispy roasties and a wicked homemade Sticky Toffee Pudding. The combination would 'keep your feet on the ground' for a week and help survive the winter.

    But in 2015 the pub was sold to new owners. It closed for four months only to reopen with its heart and soul ripped out. Over time it began to close at odd hours - the kind of times you'd anticipate a pub to be open. It stopped serving food. Then the opening and closing times were removed altogether so one never knew whether it might be open or not. Even when it advertised being open, you'd arrive and it would be shut. After 10 months it had closed completely. Having banned many customers, the pub was deemed an unviable business. It's not the first time a pub within the same area has been closed deliberately with ulterior motives.

    The village community has rallied and the pub has successfully been listed as an Asset of Community Value. Unfortunately that doesn't re-open the Fox and Hounds. But support is growing to try and avoid yet another village pub from closing permanently, unnecessarily - and potentially (deliberately?) being changed into a residential house.

    A petition has been set up to save the pub, which has now received more than 1,000 signatures. You can find out more about the campaign to save the Fox and Hounds (and sign the petition) at www.savegreatwolfordpub.co.uk. More so, local residents have very successfully created a Pop-up Pub to generate support. The next Pop-up Pub event will be held on 10th February at 6.30pm in Little Wolford Village Hall.

    I would like to hope that, very soon, I can bring news that the Fox and Hounds in Great Wolford has re-opened for the benefit of the community and all those that love finding a quirky village pub full of character. And that its name will reappear in the 3rd edition of Slow Travel: The Cotswolds.

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