Fleece Inn

Worcestershire - Bretforton

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

The Cross
Bretforton
WR11 7JE

Tel: (01386) 831173

Website https://thefleeceinn.co.uk/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FleeceInnBretforton

Real Ale: Yes

Real Cider: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This legendary pub was owned by the same family for generations, with the last of the line, Miss Lola Taplin, bequeathing it to the National Trust on her death in 1977. Inside the 17th-century building, the three stone-flagged rooms retain Lola's extraordinary assemblage of old furniture and other artefacts. The 'Pewter Room' takes its name from an impressive collection of antique pewterware and has a large settle with doors at the back for storage; note the 'witches circles' near the inglenook fireplace - supposedly efficacious in stopping witches coming down the chimney. The 'Dug Out', down two steps and with a stone fireplace, is the former games room, popular for darts in Lola's time. The 'Brewhouse' is the most striking room with its vast inglenook fireplace and indentations in the wall for feeding in water from the well outside in the days of home brewing. After fire damage in February 2004, the Fleece was carefully restored and reopened in May 2005.

A delightful building mostly dating from the C17 and it was the first pub to be bequeathed to the National Trust (they currently own nearly 40) It was built as a longhouse by a farmer named Bryd and remained in the ownership of a single family until 1977. The last private owner was Miss Lola Taplin who lived here all of her 77 years and locals will tell you that she would not serve while Coronation Street was on TV or if you were a group! The inn sign is the coat of arms of the Ashwin Family, who, lived in the Manor House in Bretforten. The locals know the Fleece as 'The Ark' because the local growers would come in two by two after a hard days work on the land!

The separate rooms have been kept along with their historic furnishings. Disaster struck the Fleece on 28 Feb. 2004 when it was severely damaged by a fire. It was very carefully restored and reopened for business in May 2005. Whilst closed a bar selling real ale was opened in the adjoining 16th century thatched barn, which is now available for functions. The layout of three rooms - Pewter Room, Brewhouse and Dug Out - remain. There is a tiny area in front of the bar counter which leads to the original front door and has a couple of bar stools and you may find some locals drinking here. It has old dado panelling on the wall and now there are three openings to the servery - the door and first hatch were there in Lola's day and the National Trust created another hatch in the solid wall. There were no handpumps in Lola's days - casks of beer were set up on the bar back area so the shelving here is all modern.

The nearest room to the servery is The Brewhouse, which has a uneven flagstone floor. Look for the two indentations in the wall which were how the water from the well outside were fed into the room. Two steps down leads to the Dug Out, the former Games Room and was popular for darts when the pub team was top of their league in Lola's day. Although the dart board is still there not a dart is thrown these days as you are likely to be throwing over the heads of people dining! The room still retains its hatch which has a new top. and has a stone fireplace reputedly taken from Evesham Abbey.

The Pewter Room is named after the impressive pewter collection that has been on display for over 300 years. Note the witches circles in front of the original inglenook fireplace which have been repainted by the National Trust, which, according to tradition, are there to prevent witches from entering down the chimney. There is an impressive settle around the fireplace which creates a passage into the room. Take a look at the rear of it and you will notice two tiny doors at the bottom. You can open the doors but in a similar way to items in National Trust properties 'please do not touch the shoes'! This room is the venue for the folk nights every Thursday. The original toilets are now store rooms and new gents' and disabled toilets have opened were the domestic kitchen was situated. The catering kitchen and ladies' above were where the original cellar was as a new cellar has been created in a building adjoining the barn. The pubs hosts an Apple & Ale Festival early October.

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