The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire, has been in the same family for 250 years.

Bell Inn

A “perennial gem” with “great beer” and an outdoor loo that has been run by the same family for 250 years has been crowned the UK’s best pub.

The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire, has won the 2020 Pub of the Year title after impressing judges with its welcoming environment, strong community focus and impressive selection of beer.

This is not the first time the heritage pub has scooped the top prize – the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), which runs the competition, also awarded it Pub of the Year status back in 1990, when it was run by the current owner’s parents, Heather and Ian Macaulay.

Hugh Macaulay, the couple’s son, said he was delighted to receive the accolade himself three decades later.

Outdoor loo

The only pub in Berkshire with a Grade-II listed interior, The Bell Inn has been in the hands of the Hunt and McQuhae family since the 18th century. The men’s toilet is situated outside and punters jokingly refer to it as “the Planetarium”. It was built in 1933 when mains water was installed at the premises.

Ben Wilkinson, Camra’s national director, praised the pub for treating newcomers like regulars and making customers feel “right at home”.

“The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink, and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home. Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food and warm heritage pub.”


Manager Mr Macaulay said: “The Bell Inn has been in my family for 250 years and my mother and father were running it when we last won the award.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be recognised for driving quality year after year. Not much has changed because we have kept our interior unspoilt all this time, and intend to keep it that way for years to come,” he added.

On 19 September 1978, 100 Bell Inn regulars paid £100 a head to charter a British Airways Concorde to take them on an annual pub outing. Concorde flew from London Heathrow over the bay of Biscay down to Spain and back.

Pubs in the competition are rated by Camra on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, community focus and the quality of the beer. This year’s runners-up include the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, the George & Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, and the Red Lion in Preston, Hertfordshire.

(Story source: Inews) 

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