SUFFOLK FOOD & DRINK AWARDS 2015 - THE PACKHORSE INN SHORTLISTED FOR TWO!
12 APR 2015
The East Anglian Daily Times has announced the finalists of the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2015 and The Packhorse is in the final three for two of the nine awards:
Best Chef – Executive Chef Chris Lee is in the shortlist for Suffolk’s “Best Chef”; and
Best Restaurant – The Packhorse Inn is in the running for Suffolk’s “Best Restaurant”
The winners will be announced at a celebratory lunch on Monday 20 April.
For further information and full list of finalists see
The Suffolk Food and Drink Awards are a way of celebrating and thanking Suffolk’s food and drink industry which enriches the life and economy of the county. Few places can boast the rich variety of produce found in Suffolk. The county’s producers and purveyors grow, rear, catch and cook some of the best food and drink to be found in Britain.
ACQUISITION NUMBER THREE - CHESTNUT BUYS OUNCE HOUSE IN BURY ST EDMUNDS
24 JAN 2015
Chestnut Inns, established by former banker and corporate financier Philip Turner, has acquired Ounce House in Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Chestnut Inns completed on the property, its third investment, on Friday 23rd January 2015 just three months after opening its second venture, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, Cambridge.
The Bury St Edmunds acquisition brings the hospitality company back in to Suffolk; The Packhorse Inn which opened October 2013, the first in the group’s portfolio, is in the village of Moulton just outside Newmarket.
Ounce House is a red brick, gable-ended, three-storey property, set back from the road a five-minute walk from the abbey and pedestrianised shopping streets in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. It was purchased from Simon and Jenny Pott, owners for over 30 years and who ran Ounce House as a 5 star rated guest house. The agents were Whatley Lane Estate Agents.
The Chestnut Inns’ continuing strategy is to identify freehold sites in the region, which as a result of under capital investment, are not delivering their full potential. Work will begin immediately on a significant refurbishment of the Bury St Edmunds property with current plans being to provide a bar, dining, private dining, meeting room facilities and boutique accommodation, all in keeping with the values and style already established by the existing businesses. The team are working towards opening the doors on the revitalised site in the Autumn.
Chestnut Inns’ owner Philip Turner is excited about this latest development: “Bury St Edmunds was the logical next move. It is perfectly positioned in relation to the other businesses; close enough to be part of an operational support structure and yet far enough away to have its own customer base and target market. Bury St Edmunds is growing both as a hub for tourism in the region as well as being recognised as a focus for the promotion of great Suffolk food and drink. Locally sourced food, great service and a traditional role at the heart of the community – that is what Chestnut Inns is all about and what we will be working to achieve with the Northgate Street site.”
INN THE RUNNING FOR 'BEST NEWCOMER' IN THE TOP 50 GASTROPUB AWARDS 2015
30 NOV 2014
The Top 50 Gastropub Awards, organised by industry publication The Morning Advertiser, has announced the shortlist for the three specialist categories and The Packhorse Inn is one of the 5 selected for the “Best Newcomer” award.
We will have to wait until 26th January 2015 when the winners will be presented with their awards by Tom Kerridge. For further details see The Morning Advertiser.
INN THE EATING OUT GUIDE
28 NOV 2014
The Michelin Eating Out In Pubs Guide 2015 was recently published recommending more than 590 pubs from all over the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Packhorse Inn is delighted to be one of the 70 new entrants selected, first and foremost, for the quality of their food.
NEW OPENING IN GRANCHESTER - THE RUPERT BROOKE IS NUMBER TWO FOR CHESTNUT INNS
17 OCT 2014
The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester has opened for business, just six months after being acquired by Chestnut Inns and almost a year to the day since owner Philip Turner opened the very first Chestnut Inns pub – The Packhorse Inn, Moulton near Newmarket.
The Grantchester pub has been totally renovated and revitalised to reflect the Chestnut Inns’ operating ethos – locally sourced food, great service and a traditional role at the heart of the community. The company is passionate about retaining the heritage and traditions of the countryside pub, whilst striving to provide great food and stylish interiors.
Selected for its great location in Grantchester, with its rural, historic and literary links and yet within walking distance of central Cambridge, the revitalised site features an open plan kitchen, a newly established conservatory dining room, an extensive bar area and an upper floor private dining “Club Room” with access to roof terraces. The gardens overlooking the Grantchester Meadows and the footpath to Cambridge will be restored for next spring.
The Rupert Brooke has been greatly assisted in the re-launch by the established team at its sister pub The Packhorse Inn. The décor has benefitted from the creative eye of the owners’ wife Amanda, who really appreciates the Cambridge market from the days when she used to have her own shoe shop in the town, Amanda Green Shoes. Amanda has created an urban “Edwardian” ambience with oak flooring, a copper-topped bar, decadent chocolate coloured sofas and several pieces of taxidermy including what is evolving as the Chestnut Inns’ “must have” accessory – a boar’s head. The menu reflects Executive Chef Chris Lee’s signature pub classics but with a modern twist such as game shepherd’s pie with smoked potato; warm chicken Caesar salad with anchovy & bacon and braised collar of ham served with duck’s egg and chips. Customers can expect subtle flavours, complementary textures and dish combinations that have long been associated with The Packhorse’s 3AA Rosette chef. The Bar is well stocked with a wide selection of fine wines, real ales and keg beers.
Owner Philip Turner is in a confident mood for this second opening:
“It has been the most amazing year for Chestnut Inn and its first business The Packhorse Inn. In the last couple of months we’ve won “Best Food Pub” for the East in The Great British Pub Awards; The Sunday Times highlighted us as one of 10 pubs or “boutique boozers” in its Ultimate 100 British hotels feature; Sawday’s named us one of its three “Favourite Newcomers” and to top it all, The Packhorse Inn was awarded 3AA Rosettes – putting us in the top 3 restaurants for Cambridgeshire and Suffolk according to the AA. To open our second business The Rupert Brooke on such a wave of success is really exciting. Of course it is going to be different to The Packhorse Inn but we have high expectations that it will prove a winner to both locals and visitors to Grantchester.”
The Rupert Brooke opened on Thursday 16th October.
3 AA ROSETTES FOR THE PACK HORSE INN, NEWMARKET - SUFFOLK'S ONLY!
23 SEP 2014
A jubilant Chris Lee and head chef Phil Skinner celebrated last night with the team from The Packhorse Inn, when once again the AA recognised him as the only 3 AA Rosettes chef in Suffolk. The announcement of the 3, 4 and 5 Rosettes were made as part of the annual AA Hospitality Awards, often referred to as the industry’s ‘Oscars’, held this year at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London and hosted by Fiona Bruce.
There were 28 new 3 AA Rosettes awards made nationally last night – The Packhorse Inn being one. This made The Packhorse Inn the only establishment in Suffolk to have this rating and one of just seven in East Anglia* to have 3 or more Rosettes. The Rosette scheme is a long established recognition scheme operated by the AA. Approximately 10% of all restaurants across the UK are of a standard to attain one rosette making up 50% the AA Restaurant Guide; only 10% of the hotels/restaurants within the Guide will have 3 Rosettes and above, which therefore ranks The Packhorse Inn in the top 1% and one of the best 150 restaurants in the UK.
Earlier this year, The Packhorse’s accommodation received 5 AA stars, which when considered with the 3 AA Rosettes, also makes it just one of a handful of pubs with rooms/inns in the country with this combined grading.
Philip Turner, owner of The Packhorse Inn, was delighted to praise the talents of Chris Lee and the great team spirit at the Newmarket inn: “When Chris and his wife Hayley decided to join me last year in the new Chestnut Inns adventure and work with me in revitalising The Packhorse Inn as the pilot and blueprint for future openings, they took a leap of faith and I’m very glad they did. The way the AA works, Chris had to step away from his 3 AA Rosettes status which he had held since 2007 and effectively start again and in a very different environment. I cannot adequately express the emotion I feel to be able to say that, in our first year of opening, and in our very first Chestnut Inns pub, that we have received such significant industry recognition. To be able to claim that The Packhorse Inn is the only 3 AA Rosettes establishment in the county surpasses any sense of team achievement that I might have felt in my 20 years in banking. I am so proud of everyone at The Packhorse Inn; it has been a full-on first year but it feels great to be part of such an incredible team.”
Chris Lee was equally happy:
“I can’t deny it. To have 3 AA Rosettes, once again, is just simply amazing. Food is my passion and my life and this award means a great deal to all of us who have worked hard to establish the Packhorse Inn as a destination for great locally-sourced food and attentive service. Being part of a new and growing business such as Chestnut Inns has been the perfect environment for my creativity as a chef. But in this business, there is no time for complacency.
The timing could not be better as we are opening our second business, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, next month. The challenge for me and the team is not only to show our Packhorse customers and everyone behind the AA Rosette ratings that we deserve to retain the status but to use the recognition to set the quality standard for The Rupert Brooke and other operations to come. Of course, each business will be different, and not all will suit or indeed need such accreditation, but as the first business to open and of course my base as Executive Chef, The Packhorse Inn will lead by example and attaining the 3 AA Rosettes status will be up there as inspiration for us all.”
3 AA Rosettes status is defined by the AA as “Outstanding restaurants that achieve standards that demand national recognition well beyond their local area.” When a chef holds a 3, 4 or 5 Rosettes and moves from one establishment to another, the award is suspended. Nor does the award follow the chef automatically but can only be re-awarded after inspection and announced twice during the year. The Packhorse Inn was inspected after the March announcement and so this was the first opportunity for the award to be made.
Suffolk has not had a 3 AA Rosette establishment for the past six months; both previously rated restaurants had their 3 AA Rosettes suspended because of chef moves.
* The seven in East Anglia are:
Suffolk (1) – The Packhorse Inn, Moulton
Cambridge (2) – Midsummer House (5 AA Rosettes) and Alimentum
Norfolk (4) – Morston Hall, Blakeney; The Neptune Inn & Restaurant, Hunstanton; Titchwell Manor, Titchwell and Roger Hickman’s Restaurant in Norwich
There are no 3 AA Rosettes restaurants in Essex.
SAWDAY'S NAME THE PACKHORSE IT'S 'FAVOURITE NEWCOMER' IN ENGLAND
17 SEP 2014
The Packhorse Inn is one of the three winners of the Favourite Newcomers Award in the first Sawday’s British Hotel awards; the other two being in Wales and Scotland.
The Awards, of which there are 15 winners across 5 categories, form part of Edition 16 of Sawday’s British Hotel guide, featuring over 528 hotels. The Sawday’s inspector found The Packhorse “A welcoming village local with striking, chic interiors” Read the full review
THE SUNDAY TIMES - ULTIMATE 100 BRITISH HOTELS 2014
16 SEP 2014
If you are a reader of The Sunday Times, you will already know that we were featured in its Ultimate 100 British hotels at the weekend – just one of 10 pubs or “boutique boozers” highlighted, The Packhorse Inn scored for its “first-rate pub food and eight indulgent rooms, with large mirrors, huge beds and posh Pevonia smellies.”
Subscribers can read the full feature on the Sunday Times website.
GREAT BRITISH PUB AWARDS - HAPPY WITH EAST!
15 SEP 2014
The partying team from The Packhorse Inn (Amanda and Philip Turner, David and Louise Minchin, Chris and Hayley Lee) had to be content with the “Best Food Pub” for the East Anglia & East Midlands region at the Great British Pub Awards’ finals ceremony on the 11th September.
Congratulations to all the national winners, and as owner Philip Turner tweeted on the night: “To be there in less than 1 year of operation is a miracle. Left feeling proud. We’ll be back!”
WE'VE WON! 'BEST FOOD PUB' FOR EAST ANGLIA AND THE EAST MIDLANDS REGION
08 AUG 2014
The Great British Pub Awards, organised annually by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, have announced the regional winners for 2014 and we are amongst those celebrating as The Packhorse Inn is named “Best Food Pub” for the East Anglia & East Midlands region.
Philip Turner is thrilled with this early recognition for the inn which, after all, has only been opened for less than ten months:
“As we get ready to open our second pub in the Chestnut Inns family -the Rupert Brooke in Grantchester – it has given the team a huge confidence boost. Full credit must go to Chef Chris Lee for his great talent but also his commitment to use local produce and his passion for always trying something new.”
Chris Lee, who manages the Suffolk village inn with his wife Hayley is no stranger to winning awards but he too sees this accolade as a major milestone:
“This is our first major award at the Packhorse Inn and it does feel good to know that ‘my food’ is recognised as amongst the best food to be had in pubs in the region. The award is down to the great team, not just the kitchen, here in Moulton.”
We now have to wait until the final award ceremony on the 11th September to see if we can also take the national award for the category or even the ultimate Pub of the Year award selected from the 17 category finalists.
THE DAILY MAIL RATES THE PACKHORSE INN AS A 'PROPER CHARMER'
15 JUL 2014
Readers of last Saturday’s Daily Mail will already know that we received a surprise call from its “Inspector”. The Reviewer, who booked in incognito with some friends, stayed in our Folly and Plantation rooms. Both rooms received pleasing comments especially Plantation’s bathroom for having “ its own proper window” and being “the antithesis of pokey.”
Our staff, even the waiter who had just started that day, were justly praised for doing “a brilliant job” on what was clearly a challenging evening. All in all, we are very pleased with the Inspector’s 4 star rating.
To read the full review, click
NEW ROOMS AT THE INN
15 JUL 2014
Just nine months after opening its doors after a total refurbishment, The Packhorse Inn, has doubled its number of guest bedrooms.
The four new rooms, which open onto a terrace, are in the former Coach House of the Suffolk inn. Named – Kennett, Lark, Ouse and Stour – after four of the rivers which flow nearby – the rooms are all en suite and benefit from the luxury of underfloor heating. The stylish décor has been the inspiration of the owner, Philip Turner’s wife Amanda Turner. Situated on the ground floor, the new additions are suitable for disabled access and are also designated “dog friendly” with just a small charge for the additional cleaning required.
With full occupancy on the first day the rooms were available, the team at The Packhorse has reason to be cheerful: “It was a gamble to continue with capital investment before we had an established trading pattern, but, with weekly turnover achieving 60% more than originally predicted, we soon knew it was the right thing to do.” explained owner Philip Turner.
Manager Hayley Lee agrees: “With eight rooms and of course the recent AA 5 Star rating, we are now a much more attractive destination, able to accommodate even more guests looking to stay in a beautiful rural location with the luxurious comfort associated with boutique hotels. However, the emphasis is firmly on hospitality and the excellent local food and drink of a “pub with rooms”, all in the true British inn tradition.”
AWARD: THE GREAT BRITISH PUB AWARDS 2104 - BEST FOOD PUB REGIONAL FINALIST
13 JUL 2014
The team at The Packhorse Inn was delighted to learn that we are short listed as one of six finalists for the East Midlands & East Anglia region. We will have to wait until the 1st August to see if we win and go on to the next stage and be invited to the finals in September.
PACKHORSE CHEF HELPS WITH A RECIPE BOOK TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
28 MAY 2014
Chris Lee joined other top chefs, including Rick Stein and Sophie Dahl, when a number of fostered children were asked to dream up their favourite food and then take over the kitchen. The result – the second recipe book, the brainchild of the National Fostering Agency (NFA), one of the most experienced and long established fostering agencies in the United Kingdom.
All royalties from this book will be donated to the Place2Be charity, a UK registered charity, dedicated to enhancing the well-being and prospects of children and their families by providing access to therapeutic and emotional support in schools. Cooks and Kids Too, published by Graffeg, is on sale at Waterstones, WH Smith and all good bookshops or on line at Amazon.com or from Graffeg.com. Further details can be found at .
STARS & ROSETTES
22 MAY 2014
5 star bedrooms
Hotels or guest accommodation assessed by the AA are rated under a set of common quality standards agreed by the AA and the UK tourist authorities (VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales). To get the 5 star rating, inspectors need to see:
Awareness of each guest’s needs with nothing being too much trouble. All bedrooms are en suite or have a private bathroom. Excellent quality beds and furnishings. Breakfast includes specials/home-made items, high quality ingredients, and fresh local produce.
We are pleased to say that all four of our bedrooms give guests the 5 star treatment.
2 rosettes dining
Also, after only six months of operation, The Packhorse Inn has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes for its food. Around 40% of restaurants/hotels within the AA Restaurant Guide have Two Rosettes and so gaining two in such a short time is no mean achievement.
Finally we were delighted to be awarded the egg cup symbol – indicating a very special breakfast with an emphasis on freshly prepared local ingredients.
STAY 'CHIC', STAY 'COOL'
22 MAY 2014
The Packhorse Inn has been signed up to two specialist accommodation guides with an online presence:
Chic Retreats, the “definitive collection of privately owned boutique hotels, B&Bs and luxury villas around the world”. Personally selected for their character, charm and personal service, Chic Retreats has described The Packhorse Inn as: “the best restaurant with boutique hotel rooms in west Suffolk;” and “a new breed of hospitality to the race-going and shooting crowd in Newmarket and Cambridge and is the perfect all-year-round hideaway for those looking for a boutique hotel in Suffolk, within easy reach of London.”
Read the full review
Sawday’s Tom Bell visited The Packhorse Inn for its “Special Places” guide.
“The rise of the cool country inn continues apace and the most recent member to join the club is The Packhorse Inn, a beautifully renovated country pub that was rescued from abject neglect. These days it’s a small-scale pleasure dome – striking interiors, ambrosial food, bedrooms and bathrooms that elate – yet it remains a village local with a lovely bar that welcomes all.”
The Sawday’s philosophy is that it is ‘More than just a bed for the night’. They love all things local and independent, and seek out quirkiness and creativity. They reject the bland, the corporate and the impersonal and select only the most special places and owners.
Read the full review
22 MAY 2014
The Club Room was the venue for IQ business magazine’s latest networking event. Timed to be the day before the Newmarket Business Race Day, Mark Edmondson, partner at Newmarket Solicitors Edmondson Hall talked about the “The synergies of Newmarket as a racing town with local businesses”.
GETTING SHIRTY WITH THE RACING XL
15 MAY 2014
The Packhorse Inn is delighted to lend its name in support of the Newmarket Racing XI – the “motley collection of trainers and others who have masqueraded as a cricket team in Newmarket since before the war”. Those were Chairman Jeremy Richardson’s words – not ours! We share the shirt with title sponsor, leading bloodstock auctioneers Tattersalls; C M Seven; Osborne Auto Sales and IMP Graphics. The first match of the season took place Sunday 11th May when Newmarket Racing XI enjoyed a 9 wicket victory over The Old Oundelian Cricket XI at Exning to get the 2014 season off to the best possible start. Could it have been Chris Lee’s “power burgers” served at the pre-season BBQ at The Packhorse Inn the night before that made the difference?
THE RUPERT BROOK GRANCHESTER - ACQUISITION NUMBER TWO FOR CHESTNUT INNS
10 APR 2014
Chestnut Inns, established in May 2012 by former banker and corporate financier Philip Turner, has acquired The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, Cambridge. It is the group’s second pub/restaurant investment. Chestnut Inns completed on the property on Monday 31 March 2014 just six months after opening its first venture, The Packhorse Inn in Moulton near Newmarket.
The Chestnut Inns’ plan is to identify freehold sites in the region, which as a result of under capital investment, are not delivering their full potential. Chestnut Inns’ first site, The Packhorse Inn near Newmarket, has exceeded operating expectations in its first six months and this has prompted Turner to accelerate plans for rolling out further sites in the area. Chestnut Inns recently completed a second round of capital raising under the Government sponsored Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Philip commented “We have a fantastic shareholder base that has supported the business through to phase two and allowed us to seize the opportunity to purchase The Rupert Brooke,” explains Philip. “Its position in Grantchester – rural, historic and literary links and yet within walking distance of central Cambridge – perfectly fits the key criteria of “location, location, location”. The rest of the ingredients – a creative outlook and an experienced team to make it work – are what Chestnut Inns are all about.”
The Rupert Brooke will be totally renovated to open its doors again late summer as a village pub and restaurant. The revitalised site will reflect the group’s ethos, already established by The Packhorse Inn – locally sourced food, great service and a traditional role at the heart of the community. The company is passionate about retaining the heritage and traditions of the countryside pub, whilst striving to provide great food and stylish interiors. Chestnut Inn’s existing management team has grown over the past few months in anticipation of this development – “People are our greatest asset and growing the business provides career development opportunities for our people – helping us recruit and maintain the standards we set ourselves”, commented head chef Chris Lee.
The pub is named after the World War One poet who lived in the village and who wrote, when homesick in Berlin, the acclaimed poem “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester” which ends with the famous couplet: “Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?”
As Chestnut Inns completed on the project, film crews moved into the Cambridgeshire village to begin the filming of the six part series “Grantchester”, an exciting commission for ITV Drama, set against the backdrop of the real hamlet of Grantchester, which focuses upon the life of Sidney Chambers, a charismatic, charming clergyman who turns investigative vicar when one of his parishioners dies in suspicious circumstances.
See recent press coverage:
April 2014 – Cambridge News – Grantchester pub The Rupert Brooke to close while undergoing transformation by new owner.
April 2014 – East Anglian Daily Times – Moulton/ Grantchester: Packhorse Inn owner Chestnut Inns acquires the Rupert Brooke
IF YOU'RE HAPPY, LET US KNOW IT, VOTE FOR US
28 MAR 2014
Back in 2008, chef Chris Lee received the Good Food Guide’s award for “Up-and-coming chef” with editor Elizabeth Carter, saying: “Chris Lee is an ambitious, self-taught chef. His ‘intricate cuisine gastronomique’ is definitely showy, but backed up by sound technique. Subtle flavours, complementary textures and dish combinations are analytically thought out.”
Six years on – Chris is now at The Packhorse Inn and if you think he deserves another accolade, you can nominate The Packhorse Inn by filling in the form at by just emailing the editor at .
The Good Food Guide is just one of many opportunities for our customers to show that they are proud of us. Food & Travel magazine is also asking for recommendations. Please go to if you feel we deserve the recognition please vote for us. There are several categories that might fit the bill: Under Hotel – “Gourmet Bolthole “or Rural; Under Restaurant – “Out of London” or “Newcomer”.
And of course – thank you to everyone who have shown their appreciation by writing reviews on TripAdviser.
PRIMROSE IS A CENTERFOLD
15 MAR 2014
Thank you Independent Hotel Show for featuring our Primrose Room as the centrefold for the Exhibitor Information brochure for the 2014 show.
What a fantastic endorsement considering what the exhibition is all about – a collection of the UK’s finest, most unique companies not typically seen at events, hand-picked to ensure they offer the high level of quality and breadth of products & services luxury and boutique hotels require.
15 MAR 2014
Inn Style’s Suffolk Places has named The Packhorse Inn one of the seven best soaks in Suffolk.
The review states it was “a tough choice to only choose one of the bathrooms at the recently reopened Packhorse Inn. There are four lavish en suites to choose from; each individually styled with indulgent king or emperor sized beds, enormous baths and luxurious touches to ensure guests have a relaxing and memorable stay.”
JAMES GILLICK - ART AT THE PACKHORSE INN
15 MAR 2014
Four of James Gillick‘s equestrian paintings are now on display in the Club Room. The series of oil paintings, inspired by studies made of polo ponies at the Snow Polo World Cup in China, turn the Club Room from functional to fabulous.
Figurative painter James Gillick lives and works in a quiet, beautiful backwater of rural Lincolnshire, England where he runs his busy studio. He makes all his materials by hand using techniques that date back to the 17th century. James’s work ranges from the smallest of still lifes, including game paintings to life size horse paintings. He also works on a wide variety of commissioned projects including portraiture and historic restoration. Notable portraits include His Holiness Pope John Paul II and The Rt Hon Baroness Thatcher.
PACKHORSE EXEC CHEF HELPS FIND THE SUFFOLK YOUNG COOKS
14 JAN 2014
Suffolk New College was the venue, Emma Crowhurst the organiser, BBC Radio Suffolk’s Leslie Dolphin the commentator and our chef Chris Lee the judge, in the finals of The Suffolk Young Cooks competition which gave teens, aged 13 to 17, the chance to show off their cookery skills with their dishes made from a list of locally-sourced ingredients.
The final round saw 17-year-old Panipak Koonnwarote (Royal Hospital School) and 14-year-old Haverhill students (Samuel Ward Academy) Holly Sentence and Joel Ridgeway, battle it out in the kitchens but it was Joel with his recipe for a deconstructed pork and chilli burger dish who emerged the winner.
“It was simply amazing,” says Chris. “Truly inspirational. All three finalists did Suffolk proud and I really enjoyed being part of the competition, which promises to be an annual event.”
THE PACKHORSE INN - OPENING
14 JAN 2014
New Opening – The Packhorse Inn at Moulton, near Newmarket. Renamed and revitalised local is bang on trend to be the place to stay and eat.
Renamed to reflect the adjacent medieval bridge across the River Kennett, The Packhorse Inn, Moulton is now open for business. The location is a rural West Suffolk village just two and a half miles from Newmarket and part of the ancient route from Bury St Edmunds to Cambridge. The concept is much more modern.
The Packhorse Inn is the bringing together of a number of strands to create both a traditional pub at the heart of the local community and a destination for a truly stunning dining and staying experience, attracting patronage from local businesses and visitors to the area.
The drive behind the venture is Philip Turner, formerly a banker and corporate financier, who, as a Moulton resident, recognised the potential of this neglected pub and established Chestnut Inns to buy the freehold. Chestnut Inns secured additional funding under an Enterprise Investment Scheme attracting investors which include experienced operator David Minchin, husband of BBC News presenter Louise Minchin. The Packhorse is a seriously researched venture and a pilot for future Chestnut Inns’ investment in further sites in the region.
“My vision,” explains Philip, “was to create a great local pub, but also to develop the blueprint for a style of hostelry, which defies pigeon-holing into the classification of pub, hotel or restaurant, to achieve a blended definition of all three at their very best. I envisaged a place, surprisingly close to London, which tempted busy professionals to come and switch off for the weekend, retired couples to treat themselves to mid-week deals, businesses to choose for visiting colleagues and clients as a welcome alternative to faceless chains and locals to enjoy great food and drink with family and friends.”
To run The Packhorse, Philip identified talented management couple Chris and Hayley Lee. They are widely known for The Bildeston Crown which they managed for the past 10 years, achieving AA 3 rosettes status, Gold in the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence for “Taste of England” and even a turn on the telly when Chris flew the flag for Suffolk, taking on The Hairy Bikers in their Tour of Britain series …and winning.
“This is a new chapter, a fresh concept and a different type of challenge,” confides Chris. “A little daunting but we have had great support from our investors who believe in us and a fantastic welcome from the local community. What more can you ask for?”
The fresh concept is going back to what is best about a traditional local – a convivial atmosphere, welcoming landlord, use of seasonal, locally sourced produce, dog and family friendly facilities, and well-looked after beers. But it doesn’t stop there. Mediocrity is most certainly not on the menu or indeed any aspect of this four bedroom country inn, which deliberately sets out to stretch the definition of “pub” to the limit.
The décor may be relaxed but it is also grand, especially in the bedrooms, where huge mirrors, indulgent beds and other generous and luxurious touches (the creative influence of Philip‘s wife Amanda) targets the professional couple taking a weekend away.
The kitchen is the engine room for The Packhorse experience and Chef Chris already has an excellent reputation for his innovative style and being a champion of seriously good and locally-sourced produce, the use of no- nonsense techniques and, just maybe, a little element of surprise. Menus are designed to fit a range of pockets and feature a combination of unpretentious rustic classics to Chris’ signature twists on modern flavours. Sunday lunches are a particular feature with family parties being treated to ribs of beef and whole roast chickens that can be carved at the table.
Dining is in the sprawling dining room which merges with the bar area. Snug spaces for a little more seclusion come as a surprise and space is creatively zoned by the central glass-fronted open fire, one of three real fires at The Packhorse. There is also the Club Room, designed to host private or corporate events for up to 40 people and four luxurious bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. The rooms are named after the four hills surrounding and protecting the village Moulton – Warren Hill, Folly Hill, Primrose Hill and Plantation Hill, in case there is any doubt that The Packhorse Inn has been designed to last.
The Packhorse Inn opened its doors Friday 11 October. It is open seven days a week, 365 days a year from 08.00am in the morning to 11.00 pm, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as all day teas and coffees.