January 14, 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.

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