Popular pub welcomes customers after revamp

This Is Wiltshire: Andy Southorn, chef Chris Brown and Janet Southorn at the George and Dragon in Erlestoke Andy Southorn, chef Chris Brown and Janet Southorn at the George and Dragon in Erlestoke

Villagers in Erlestoke are celebrating the reopening of the village pub after a year.

Many wondered if the George and Dragon would ever reopen but are delighted that husband and wife Andy and Janet Southorn have taken over.

The couple, who have 15 years’ experience in running pubs and hotels, have bought the freehold of the pub and, after refurbishing it, they opened last week.

Mr Southorn, 59, said he and his wife had been looking for a pub to own after their three-year tenancy at a pub in the New Forest ended.

He said: “This one stood out, it looked great with the black and white timber frame. It also has five bed and breakfast rooms in the separate coachhouse so we can offer accommodation and Erlestoke is a nice little village.”

The couple ripped out the bar, which they described as old-fashioned, and put new bars in and redecorated the restaurant.

Since re-opening the pub has a mens’ skittles team, a WI skittles group while a ladies’ team will start in the new season.

The mens’ darts team will return after Christmas while the Erlestoke and Coulston cricket team has returned to use the pub as its base. Quiz nights and music nights will also be held.

Mr Southorn is an ex-professional musician and he and his band, the Woodgreen Scratch Band, will be playing at the pub’s opening party on December 20.

Mr Southorn said: “It’s up to us to make it work and because we own the freehold it means we can sell a wide selection of beers and good food.

"Although we have smarterned it up, it has still got a traditional pub atmosphere. People can bring their dogs and their muddy shoes.”

Stan Jonik, chairman of Erlestoke Parish Council, said: “Everyone is very pleased to see the George and Dragon has reopened. We thought we were going to lose it.

"Although Erlestoke is a small village, the pub is well used.”

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