A thirteenth century pub in Brockdish, south Norfolk opened its doors once again yesterday after an 18 month closure thanks to the vision of an entrepreneurial family and some divine inspiration from Norfolk County Council and Pub is The Hub.
The Old King’s Head in Brockdish near Diss closed in September 2013 when it went up for sale but was bought in July last year by an entrepreneurial brother and sister team, Jonathan Townley and Louise Lees.
Norfolk County Councillor, Martin Wilby, officially opened the pub having been instrumental in supporting Jonathan after a chance meeting at a Parish Council meeting last summer. As a result the Norfolk County Council’s programme of funding for rural pubs has brought Jonathan’s vision of a community café and bakery into the pub’s new future.
Since then Jonathan has painstakingly refurbished the pub inside and out, bringing it back to its former glory. He did most of the renovations himself, with the exception of the electrics and plumbing and has gone for a more original, stripped-back style for the listed building with hard flooring and traditional pub furniture. He has even replaced the bar top with an old piece of oak hewn from a local tree felled over thirty years ago.
The kitchen now boasts a two-tier stone bakery oven for baking bread, cakes and pizzas while the café, with its separate entrance at the rear of the pub will be producing top quality barista-style coffees. All this comes courtesy of a £4k grant from Norfolk County Council and advice and support from Terry Stork, regional advisor for Pub is The Hub which added to Jonathan’s own investment of £8.5k.
Norfolk-born and a chef by trade, Jonathan has worked in fine dining in France and in restaurants all over England so the Old Kings Head will see some of the hallmarks of his training and experience but will mainly feature a rustic Mediterranean influence.
Jonathan explained: “Our vision for a rural pub like The Old King’s Head has married my culinary expertise and my sister’s business acumen with the community need for a social hub in Brockdish and the provision of new services. I am enormously grateful to Norfolk County Council for their grant and to Pub is The Hub for their guidance and encouragement.”
Terry Stork, regional advisor in East Anglia for Pub is The Hub added: “Schemes like this help to secure a rural community pub’s long term viability. Jonathan and Louise have already made great progress to benefit their community and we wish them well in their venture.”
Left to right: Martin Wilby from Norfolk County Council, Jonathan Townley for The Old King’s Head and Terry Stork from Pub is The Hub