Historic West Sussex village pub has been transformed - 'Will showcase country cooking at its best'

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The historic 14th Century coaching inn is set to put rural West Sussex on everyone’s radar with newly restored bedrooms, pub and dining opening in October 2024.

The beloved local pub, originally established in 1536 from a building dating back to the 14th Century, has undergone a remarkable transformation under the watchful eye of Angus Davies, previously of Chez Bruce, Lorne, Sorrel, and his acclaimed solo venture, the Bib Gourmand-awarded The Hollist Arms.

In partnership with some tremendous industry leaders, The Swan Inn has been meticulously restored to its former glory, and opens with a simple ethos: to offer guests good food and drink and a comfortable bed at the end of the night.

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Located just a five-minute drive from Pulborough train station – serviced by direct line from London Victoria – the pub plans to return as the cherished community pub it once was, open seven days a week and welcoming locals and visitors alike.

The SwanThe Swan
The Swan

The building has a rich and cultured history, having previously served as a favoured temporary residence for royal courtiers on their way to London and some of Britain’s best artists and writers such as J.M.W Turner, John Constable and Rudyard Kipling, all taking inspiration from the village’s rural beauty. Kipling’s signature could be found in the original guestbook, which vanished several years ago - there’s still a reward available should it reappear, mysteriously or otherwise. For many of the other artists, bed and board was exchanged for artwork, some of which still lines the paneling of the dining room even now.

The Swan Inn is home to a pub bar, a 46-cover dining room, a barn that’s been beautifully restored for breakfast and private dining, and 12 ensuite bedrooms. Ten rooms are in the main building and two in the neatly converted pre-Victorian stable block. Home to the family and dog friendly bedrooms, each with enclosed private gardens designed by the esteemed Elizabeth Tyler, House & Garden Rising Star of 2023, whose scheme spreads through to the large pub garden.

The menu will showcase country cooking at its best – seasonal and unfussy classics, executed with a focus on flavour and substance.

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Menu items include lighter bites of local girolles on toast, Whitstable oysters, stuffed sardines and, for those with a taste for offal, tongue and remoulade sandwich with fries. Larger dishes include Sutton Hoo chicken, calves’ liver with polenta, and monkfish with ratatouille. There will also be sharing plates such as a whole shoulder of South Downs lamb (which comes from local farmer Jeremy Way, two miles away), Longhorn rib of beef and locally caught fish of the day. Puddings are classic – a steamed Sussex Pond pudding with Jersey cream for two to share, figs with fresh goat curds drizzled with local honey, treacle tarts and towers of profiteroles. A feasting menu for parties of 12 – 24 will be available in The Barn.

Local beers from Burning Sky Brewery and Harvey’s will be on tap, and the house pour will be English Sparkling Wine from hyper-local producers Ambriel, and Kinsbrook. The wine cellar has been filled with over 150 bottles of wine priced to be drunk, and there will be a selection of eaux de vie, including Capreolus Distillery. The pub will also be well stocked with no/low drinks, with Lucky Saint on draught and a selection of non-alc spirits.

Interiors are charming, the result of a devoted restoration project that’s taken over 26 months. Each bedroom is named, and inspired by, the guests of the past. Comfort is paramount in the rooms, and whilst they will retain original quirks pertaining to the nature of the building, every bedroom is modernised where it matters, providing a pleasing dichotomy with every visit. Each bed has an Enchanted House mattress - the best in the business - and are fitted with luxury toppers. Design points focusing on rich, varied textures and natural British fabrics, antique furniture, Frette linens and Verden toiletries. The guest’s larder will feature a bespoke, hand painted mural from artist Meg Boscawen and is home to an honesty box space which will be filled with fresh cakes and snacks from the kitchen daily, as well as a well-stocked bar. A mezzanine area will serve as a snug for guests to enjoy, and breakfast will be served every morning in the barn.

Angus Davies says of the opening, ‘We’re so looking forward to opening the doors of The Swan Inn once again. The restoration has been an incredible project for us, and we can’t wait to fill the pub once more with locals, residents and guests from further afield. We wanted to bring back the feeling of this pub being a proper hub for the village; reliable, familiar and unfussy. We are not a gastropub by any means; our intentions are to offer consistently good food, great drinks and well-appointed rooms, in hopefully, a very well-loved setting.’

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The town of Petworth, Petworth House, Cowdray Polo Park and Goodwood Estate are all within 15 miles of The Swan. The team will happily arrange fly fishing and clay pigeon shooting for the active type, and there are some of the best cycling and running routes in England right from the doorstep. Easels and paints will be on hand to guests who would like to admire the stunning countryside around and try their hand at painting in the footsteps of Turner and Constable. There will also be a star-gazing experience available to guests - the pub is situated near one of the best dark sky spots in the UK, supplying some of the most impressive views of the Milky Way by night.

The Swan Inn will open in October 2024, with bookings open via the website from August. Rooms from £195

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