Gilly Foulds, the owner of The Horse and Groom, Tunstead, invited me to take a look around to see how work is progressing towards its (hopefully) Late May opening. Its very much a “work in progress”, so sorry no photos as yet.
When I arrived the place was a hive of activity, with builders, trades people, and pub staff buzzing to and fro with tasks allotted by Gilly, a very hands-on project manager. Her project management skills are not insignificant, as demonstrated by the large team that were there. Today there were a dozen people, and at the peak of the alteration work there have been over 16 people all with separate jobs, but surprisingly not getting in each other’s way. The end of May opening appears to be a real possibility; so watch this space.
The focus of the current work is the pub including the kitchen and dining area. Head chef Carl Spelman was busy moving in, carrying stacks of plates. Gilly took me on a guided tour, starting at the main entrance. To the right will be a cosy family room. This is important as Gilly wants a place in which families will feel welcome and comfortable, so child-friendly soft-play items will be available in an outside area that will complement the family room.
Turning left at the front door brings you inside the main area of the pub where the bar, of course, takes centre stage with a darts board area, as well as tables and chairs where people can pop in, sit down, and have a drink.
Beyond the bar is the dining area for those who would like to eat. There will be wholesome food, using locally supplied ingredients whenever possible. The menu will be straight-forward, but will not follow the usual pub fare found in pub chains.
The general fit-out has tried to maintain the features of the original building with beams, fireplaces and varnished floors. The fireplaces will have wood-burning stoves, instead of open fires. Good use has been made of the many rooms, for both the public and the private areas.
Outside, there will be a seating area and a small turfed area reflecting the intimate nature of the pub. This is at the front of the property and is surrounded on two sides by the building, as well as being set back from the road. The car park makes good use of the available space each side of the access way to Groomsmere Court. There is a bottle bank for the use of village residents. This will be managed by the parish council where income from the sale of the glass will be given to the Tunstead Village Hall Charity.