Pub To Be Restored To Former Glory Winter 2011
Earlier this year the Fleece in Boxford was closed and put on the market by pub company ‘Punch’. In May local business man John Norton bought the pub with the aim of reopening it as a village pub at the heart of the community.
The Fleece was once famous for its regular Jazz, hosting the likes of Jamie Cullum. It was also a bustling local with a busy public bar and a place for villages to enjoy a chat over a pint. When John bought the pub it had become a sad sight; the windows and doors were boarded up, the out-buildings full of rubbish, leaking pipes, damp floorboards and freezers full of rotten food.
John who also owns the White Horse in Edwardstone and Mill Green Brewery, and makes his own Cider has exciting plans for the pub. "With local pubs under threat from low cost Supermarket booze the pub needs to adapt" explained John shortly after getting his hands on the keys. "Not only do we want to create a pub that reflects it’s age and historic place in this beautiful medieval village, but we want it to support and cater for the needs of the local community." As renovation work goes on the search for period furniture from local auctions has been frantic. "We want the pub to feel classy but comfortable, using a mixture of appropriate furniture, making each room different, this will help us avoid the trap of becoming very monotone and boring". John believes that the pubs need to stop competing with the supermarkets. "We have a beautiful building here and our plans are to make the interior of the pub special. To complement this we want to sell produce produced locally as much as possible. Pubs are at the heart of our community but in so many cases the drinks they sell are imported and expensive, made buy multinationals with low production and high advertising costs. For a long time Supermarkets have been selling Lager brewed with the cheapest ingredients, Cider not made out of apples, tasteless spirits and Alco-pops at below cost price." John believes that pubs should not be trying to compete with them but should use local products that reflect the area they come from. ‘We make our own Beer with our own Suffolk Barley and Cider with Organic Suffolk apples. "We have Ale, Lager, Spirits and Wines all made in Suffolk and they are all great!"
John's other pub, the White Horse in Edwardstone, has won the Creating the Greenest Country Award for ‘Greenest Pub’. And Mill Green Brewery 'The Greenest Business Building' and 'Greenest Small Business'. Pubs can’t just be pubs any more, at the White Horse there are camping facilities, holiday accommodation, a wind turbine, solar panels and a brewery. The Fleece has a fantastic function room that needs to be used and a row of ancient stables not used since the last horse walked out in 1918, I'm sure with sensitivity they could be converted for a use which would benefit the local economy and help give the pub a secure future’.
A huge amount of work has been done between July 2011 and January 2012, and work continues to restore character and charm to The Boxford Fleece Hotel. It is well known that the building was left in a dire state; 12 broken fridges and freezers (some full of rotten food), rotten floorboards, mouldy carpets, and broken pipes are just a few of the major issues that needed addressing. This page shows the changes and improvements made, from start to completion. More pictures to follow.