Red Lion Freehouse Pub with rooms in East Chisenbury, Wiltshire

Prices from:
£150 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Thatched gem in deepest Wiltshire
  • Proper pub – relaxed and welcoming
  • Culinary oasis – Michelin starred food
  • Chef-owners – passion for local food
  • Simple, rustic dishes, precisely cooked
  • Stunning rooms in riverside setting

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Sticky FingersGood for WalkingOutdoor PursuitsCandlelitClose to WaterNo Car NeededPrivate Dining

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Overview

Red Lion Freehouse East Chisenbury, Wiltshire, SN9 6AQ

THE PERSONAL TOUCH

Set the Sat Nav to find this 18th century thatched free house hidden away in rolling downland on the edge of Salisbury Plain. It will be worth it, as sleepy East Chisenbury is a gorgeous village, set in the peaceful Avon Valley south of Pewsey, and the Red Lion Freehouse is so much more than the rustic rural local it looks from the outside, with it’s heavy thatch, thick beams, tiled floor, blazing wood-burner, and cushioned wall benches. Since 2008, accomplished chef-owners Guy & Brittany Manning have slowly transformed the pub into a culinary oasis deep in the Wiltshire countryside, their dedication, focus and hard work being rewarded in 2013 with a well-deserved Michelin Star. The humble, traditional surroundings and the informal pub atmosphere, which the Mannings are passionate to maintain, may bemuse avid ‘star-bagging’ foodies expecting tablecloths, silver service and wine flunkies, but the quality of the cooking soon makes them sit up and take notice. Converting a run-down riverside bungalow into five stunning rooms was an inspired move in 2012, the icing on the cake for this rural hideaway. Foodies keen to delve deeper into the wine list or explore Brittany’s Bourbon collection can now stay overnight, perhaps not leaving until after lunch as Guy’s delicious set lunch menu is a steal.

MUDDY PAWS

Dogs are welcome in the bar and in Manser Room (£10 per night).

STICKY FINGERS

Babies stay for free in a cot in any room; the Benjamin room has a sofa – small child £25 per night, older children (& adults) £50 per night. Smaller portions of the main menu dishes are available.

ALFRESCO

Sit in the peaceful raised rear garden and you are level with the sloping thatch of the pub and in the company of some West Berkshire pigs and a growing number of rescued chickens, which are housed in pens at the top of the garden, where you will also find Guy’s raised vegetable beds.

What’s the damage?
5 doubles: £150 – £210; Friday, Saturday & peak times £180 – £265.
Extended stay discount if you stay a minimum of 2 nights, but not available on Saturdays or peak periods

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (except Amex)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Parking
  • Disabled access to the dining room; spacious Manser Room is wheelchair friendly and has a wet room

Gongs
AA 5 Star Inn & 3 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide; Michelin Star

Sleep

Red Lion Freehouse East Chisenbury, Wiltshire, SN9 6AQ

Do not disturb

The opportunity to take on an unloved, run-down bungalow, just a short stroll down the lane, was just too good to miss in 2012, with the aim of adding a clutch of rooms and transforming the Red Lion into destination country inn. The result is impressive, the bungalow (called Troutbeck) is virtually unrecognizable, and layout and design (helped by Brittany’s designer mum) of the five double rooms is very special indeed. Arrive after dark on a winter’s night and you will be treated to a quintessentially English scene when you pull back the curtains in the morning – a gorgeous view of the crystal clear infant River Avon, replete with dabbling ducks and weeping willows, and across water meadows to pretty cottages. Either laze in bed and soak up the serene view, or enjoy your morning cuppa on your own private deck on sunny summer mornings. Named after key staff and locals, who were influential in the project development, rooms ooze style, comfort, quality and attention to detail. Beds are the best from Somnus, all topped with Egyptian cotton, goose down and gorgeous throws and cushions, the individual furnishings supplied by Indigo Antiques in nearby Mannington Bruce, and the Smart TVs are Bang & Olufsen. Smart tiled bathrooms have under floor heating, rain showers and posh, locally made organic smellies; Benjamin room has a roll-top Albion bath in the room and, yes, you can sip champagne and savour the valley view.

Creature comforts

Super comfortable Somnus beds; bathrobes; organic hand-made toiletries – Quintessentially English; mini bar – local beer, boutique gins & vodkas; private outside deck; fresh coffee & Canton tea.

Gadgets

Bang & Olufsen Smart TVs; Free wi-fi.

What’s for Breakfast?

Chisenbury Breakfast buffet – fresh squeezed orange, freshly made doughnuts, homemade bread for toast, local honey, home-made jams and marmalade; smoked salmon and scrambled Red Lion eggs; Trealy Farm bacon and Red Lion eggs; cinnamon waffles or French toast with vanilla mascarpone; frozen banana smoothie with banana bread; Eggs Benedict; The Full English…

What’s the damage?
5 doubles: £150 – £210; Friday, Saturday & peak times £180 – £265.
Extended stay discount if you stay a minimum of 2 nights, but not available on Saturdays or peak periods

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (except Amex)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Parking
  • Disabled access to the dining room; spacious Manser Room is wheelchair friendly and has a wet room

Gongs
AA 5 Star Inn & 3 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide; Michelin Star

Eat & Drink

Red Lion Freehouse East Chisenbury, Wiltshire, SN9 6AQ

Mastering the menu

Guy and Brittany honed their culinary skills in some of the world’s top kitchens before settling down in the wilds of Wiltshire, most notably the invaluable stints with Thomas Keller at the renowned Per Se restaurant in New York and at a top Michelin starred restaurant (Martin Berasategui) in San Sebastian, Spain. Precise, cutting-edge cooking techniques acquired on their travels have been applied to simpler, more rustic dishes and the results are impressive, as recognized by Michelin (1 Star) and the AA (3 Rosettes). Everything is made in-house, from the lime cordial to the ketchup, and they have a passion for sourcing the best local ingredients (or growing/rearing their own), which dictate the dishes on the ever-changing daily menus, which are sensibly short and dishes simply described. In addition to the exciting and innovative dishes on the main menu (see sample below), and to underline the fact that the Mannings want to keep the Red Lion a pub, you can order a cheese & pickle sandwich, ham, egg and chips, or a burger and chips.

On the menu

Clam tagliatelle, shellfish bisque, crab & tarragon
Confit chicken, foie gras & ham hock terrine, fine herbs, toasted sourdough
Orkney scallops, pickled strawberries, hazelnut puree, black truffle and nasturtiums
Slow-cooked pork belly, braised octopus, grilled spuds, peppers, olives, sauce Romesco
Cornish turbot, samphire, poached ratte potatoes, brown shrimp, sauce viérge
Rib of Wiltshire beef (for 2) with hand-cut chips and béarnaise
Macerated strawberry salad with frangipane, basil ice cream
Passion fruit baked Alaska, macademia & ginger

Sunday Roasts

There are always two roasts available, perhaps pork belly and roast rib of beef.

Foodie Extras

If you’re staying at the Red Lion and planning to head out walking for the day, then a delicious packed lunch can be prepared for you.

Time to Eat

Breakfast: 8am – 9.30am
Lunch: 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm – 9pm (6pm – 8pm Sunday)

Local, local, local

Henge Honey, Wilsford
Free range eggs & specialist vegetables – Moonraker Farm, Bottlesford (www.moonrakerfarm.com)
Wiltshire truffles (www.wiltshiretruffles.com)
Marlborough Mushrooms (www.marlboroughmushrooms.com)
Wines – Stone, Vine & Son, (www.stonevine.co.uk)
Asparagus & game – Everleigh Farm Shop (www.everleighfarmshop.co.uk)
Meat – Walter Rose Butchers, Devizes (www.walterroseandson.co.uk)
Red Lion Goodies – raised beds & greenhouse, rescued hens, West Berkshire pigs (delicious pork)
Organic Soaps & Toiletries – Quintessentially English, Lacock (www.quintessentiallyenglish.co.uk)
Troutbeck furnishings – Indigo Antiques, Mannington Bruce (www.indigo-uk.com)

Behind the bar

The bar and cellar may be small but the selection of drinks packs a punch, with an eclectic range of hand-picked whisky, digestifs and boutique spirits, most notably a strong choice of very special American top shelf stuff, the preferred tipple of American-born Brittany, and a raft of interesting summer cocktails chalked up on the blackboard. Four hand pumps pull through some quality ale from Wiltshire micro-breweries, the favoured beers coming from Keystone, Ramsbury, Stonehenge, Three Castles and Plain Ales, all brewed within a 20-mile radius of the pub. The style-driven, 40-bin wine list offers some great value drinking (21 by the glass), with wines selected by Stone, Vine & Sun in Twyford, Hampshire.

Bar snacks

Scotch eggs (£4)
Gordal Reina olives (£3.50)
Shaggy’s super nuts (£3.50)
Pork crackers (£3)
Ice cream sandwiches (£3)

Time at the bar

12 noon – 11pm

What’s the damage?
5 doubles: £150 – £210; Friday, Saturday & peak times £180 – £265.
Extended stay discount if you stay a minimum of 2 nights, but not available on Saturdays or peak periods

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken (except Amex)
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining
  • Parking
  • Disabled access to the dining room; spacious Manser Room is wheelchair friendly and has a wet room

Gongs
AA 5 Star Inn & 3 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide; Michelin Star

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – gabrielle@innplaces.co.uk.

1 Inn Location - Red Lion Freehouse

2

Ramsbury Brewery, Ramsbury, Marlborough SN8 2NN

Whether your preference is for traditional best bitter or something stronger, this brewery stocks a range for all tastes, including its Deer Hunter, Ramsbury Gold and also Silver Pig Stout. As part of the Ramsbury Estate, they use barley and water that comes from their own land and offer tours of the brewery.

3

Walter Rose Butchers, Sidmouth Street, Devizes, SN10 1LD

This long established family-run butchers prides itself on using traditional skills passed down through the generations and it now supplies Michelin star chefs. Its award-winning meat, sourced mainly from the local countryside, includes beef from the Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cross breeds.

4

Plank's Farm Shop, Lydeway SN10 3PU

This great little farm shop is based at the Old Potato Yard and has its own on-site kitchen where its team of chefs produce a wide selection, including a range of seasonal ready meals, quiches, soups and desserts, using ingredients from the shop. It's also home to CW Butchery, which supplies The Red Lion with its legendary rib-eye steaks.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - Red Lion Freehouse

Activities

2

Manningford Trout Fishery, Manningford Bohune SN9 6NR

Based near Pewsey, Manningford Trout Fishery is fed by the tranquil waters of the Hampshire Avon. Set in the heart of the Pewsey Vale, it also benefits from a fly-fishing school – the perfect destination for dedicated anglers. Equipment is also available to hire.

4

Great Bustard Project SP4 6JP

Deep in the Wiltshire countryside, efforts are under way to re-introduce the Great Bustard. Visit the project site, meet the team and see these extraordinary birds - an experience not to be missed.

5

Upavon Golf Club, Upavon SN9 6BQ

At nearby Upavon, you’ll find a challenging, well-maintained golf course with great views over Salisbury Plain and the Vale of Pewsey. Here you can play all year round in a friendly atmosphere and welcoming environment.

Shopping

12

Wilton Shopping Village, Wilton SP2 0RS

A short drive from Salisbury, in a pleasant riverside setting, this courtyard development in the village of Wilton is the perfect spot for a bit of out-of-town shopping, with restaurants and an antique centre included.

13

The White Horse Bookshop, High Street, Marlborough SN8 1HN

The White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough’s handsome High Street has an excellent selection of books – both bestsellers and lesser-known titles. The shop also stocks a wide range of quality art materials, including Daler-Rowney and Winsor & Newton paints.

14

Luna Boutique, 3 Kingsbury Street, Marlborough SN8 1HU

Situated in Marlborough, with branches at Hungerford and Newbury, Luna is stocked with stylish, affordable and imaginative women's fashion items with designs from France and Italy. This is the place to go for a fabulous browsing experience.

15

Hungerford Jewellers, Hungerford RG17 0DL

The delightful town of Hungerford, across the county boundary in West Berkshire, offers a good choice of independent retailers, including this successful family-run business, established in 1983 and renowned for its choice of stock and the expertise of those who run it.

18

Hungerford Arcade, Hungerford RG17 0NF

Voted ‘Britain’s best antique centre’ in 2012, the Arcade has been selling antiques for over 40 years, and more than 100 dealers have stalls and cabinets here.

Places to visit

6

Stonehenge SP4 7DE

This World Heritage Site is at least 5,000 years old and is the most famous prehistoric monument in Britain, perhaps. No one knows its exact purpose or how the smaller bluestones were brought here from Pembrokeshire. From every angle Stonehenge looks stunning but especially from a distance when the ancient stones blend into the timeless downland setting.

7

Steam - Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon SN2 2EY

Swindon's fantastic steam visitor attraction, a great destination for the family, is based in a superb restored Grade II-listed building in the heart of the former railway works. Learn all about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and discover how the Great Western Railway was born.

8

Crofton Pumping Station, Crofton SN8 3DW

Designed by Boulton and Watt, the two beam engines, one dating from 1812, operate a huge cast-iron beam and were used to pump water up the canal. Restored in recent years and powered by steam, they can occasionally be seen working - it's quite a sight. Crofton stands directly beside the Kennet and Avon Canal, near the village of Great Bedwyn.

9

Ashdown House, Lambourn RG17 8RE

Built for the Queen of Bohemia in the 17th century and remotely situated in windswept downland country near Lambourn in Berkshire, Ashdown House has the look of an elegant dolls' house. The house is small and intimate, with a striking staircase hung with fine 17th-century paintings. Ashdown is tenanted, so check opening times before visiting.

10

Avebury SN8 1RF

Acknowledged by historians as one of Europe's most important Neolithic sites, Avebury is one of numerous ancient landmarks found within the Wessex region. It's fascinating to stroll among these brooding standing stones, which make up one of the largest remaining henge monuments.

11

Wilton Windmill, Wilton SN8 3SW

The oldest working windmill in Wessex and originally built in 1821, Wilton Windmill, near the village of Wilton, was restored in the 1960s. The five-storey brick tower mill stands on a hilltop overlooking the Kennet and Avon Canal and is open to visitors at certain times.

16

Devizes SN10 2FP

There is a distinctly old-world feel and atmosphere to Devizes. Take a stroll through the streets leading off its spacious market place and you'll find an assortment of independent shops and family-run retailers to capture your attention.

19

The Merchant's House, Marlborough SN8 1HN

Marlborough’s striking high street is blessed with many fine buildings but the Merchant’s House is the jewel in its crown. Built and occupied by a prosperous middle-class silk merchant and a superb example of restoration and expert craftsmanship, you’ll find nationally acclaimed wall paintings and fascinating decorative features.

Walking

www.walkinginwiltshire.org.uk
www.visitwiltshire.co.uk
By sheer good fortune the Red Lion is only a stone’s throw from some of the south of England’s most spectacular scenery. This part of the Wiltshire landscape, renowned for the pastoral beauty of the Vale of Pewsey and bisected by meandering rivers and waterways, is the ideal spot for a rewarding walk. The Marlborough Downs, too, are just the place to go for fresh air and exercise and they also serve as a window to our past, a monument to prehistory. Reflecting the county’s great legacy are its famous chalk horses, carved into local hillsides. Follow a stretch of the 90-mile White Horse Trail and see these enigmatic works of art close up and at a distance. Near Marlborough itself is Savernake Forest, once a medieval hunting ground and a great place to go walking; to the south lies Salisbury Plain, a vast, uninhabited wilderness with several rights of way crossing it.

Cycling

www.cycle-route.com
Between Swindon and Salisbury there is an extensive network of cycle trails and off-road routes. Many of these routes link the region’s numerous ancient sites and landmarks and wherever you venture in the saddle, your cycle trek is always accompanied by a fine blend of classic Wessex scenery.

Events

www.marlboroughjazz.com
www.marlboroughlitfest.org
www.marlborough-food-festival.garden-events.com
www.pewsey-carnival.org.uk
www.salisburyfestival.co.uk
Marlborough has to be congratulated on the sheer scale and number of its festivals. It’s only a small town but it’s certainly enterprising. In May, Marlborough hosts the annual Food and Drink Festival. The intention is to showcase the very best local and national dishes, wines and real ales. The town’s Jazz Festival takes place in July and the Literature Festival in October. You don’t have far to travel to witness and enjoy Wiltshire’s oldest and largest illuminated carnival in Pewsey. There are events throughout September with the main procession usually on the last Saturday. Further afield, but worth the trip, is the Salisbury International Festival in late May and early June.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: East Chisenbury is signed off A345 Salisbury to Pewsey road, 5 miles south of Pewsey, and off A342 between Devizes and Ludgershall, just east of Upavon; pub is in the village centre.

By Train: Pewsey station is 5 mile taxi ride away.

Address:

Pewsey, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire, SN9 6AQ

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