It’s the oldest pub in town having originated circa 1684. Made from limestone rubble party walls with slate-hung return on west side. Recessed doorways with wrought iron
hinges. Mullioned windows massive chamfered ceiling beams and a wide masonry fireplace with scratched graffito “C II R”. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect description of a perfect grade II listed English pub? So why has it been shut down for so long?
Who are the new landlords?
Charlie and Tess Baker with partner Richard ‘Dicky’ Dale are taking on the task. Charlie and Tess currently run the Millbrook Inn near (wait for it..) Kingsbridge. Scoring 4 out of 5 and the 6th best place in the area out of 50 according to Tripadvisor, and recently winning Devon County Dining Pub 2019 in the Good Pub Guide it looks like they know a thing or two about running a successful drinkery.
They only officially announced the plans to re-open on Tuesday morning and just a few hours later, they had literally 100’s of responses. How does Charlie feel about the reaction? “We’re totally blown away by it to be honest!“. They have already scouted the town and had a few local discussions already, but it seems the appetite to re-invigorate the bar and function room has surprised them. “People have been suggesting loads of good ideas so we’re a bit a of a blank canvas at the moment.”
What do they invisage for the pub?
“We’ve partnered up with Richard Dale, a brilliant manager who is moving into the upstairs with his fiance and I will be working with him day to day” – Charlie believes Totnes is a very individual town and wants to sound out what people will appreciate. One thing he seems very keen on is his award winning pizza’s using a 200 year old Norwegian sourdough yeast while they sort out the full dining aspects. But Charlie is keen to point out that “…it’s a pub with food, not a restaurant with beer“. They also want to fully utilise the function room at the back for parties, meetings, social groups, music, kid’s play area and other activities; “I’m keen to explore as much as we possibly can to make the space available to the community. I want it to be as accessible as possible“.
The Kingsbridge used to be owned by Enterprise Inns, who have a reputation for being tough players but now the building is owned by a local businessman as an untied pub who believes the place should be a thriving local for the town. Charlie is hoping this will enable a brighter future for the bar than the last few attempts to re-open. With Geetie Singh-Watson taking over the Bull and a more vibrant Rotherfold it looks like the popular Bay Horse Inn will be joined by other thriving pubs in the near future.
You know the place is haunted don’t you?
Charlie laughs – “Yes! We do.In one of Dicky’s previous pubs he had a little girl in a red dress floating up through the stairs and a little old lady in the cellar who slid mop buckets around the floor so I think they will be ok!” – You can read a facinating haunted history by local writer and guide, Bob Mann here.
Neighbours and noise?
It’s no secret that previous owners have been restricted regarding live events due to complaints from the neighbouring houses very close by. How do the new landlords feel about this? “We’ve carefully read the license for the pub and it’s clear that noise is an issue here. We’ve addressed this problem with other pubs in the past and it’s a case of cummunicating well with everyone concerned. It always pays to be as inclusive as possible and work with everyone.” They intend to be in contact with each neighbour as soon as possible and discuss the situation with them directly.
Hopefully the issues faced by the more recent managers can be overcome. With the obvious experience of the new landlords and the record of success at their existing pub, it is looking very promising that the Kingsbridge will once again become a hugely popular location for locals and visitors alike.