New weekend festival announced for Warwickshire pub

New weekend festival announced for Warwickshire pub

Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Fleur Fest

Families are being invited to a new two-day festival to help the licensees celebrate a decade in charge of their popular village pub.

Nick and Emma Woodhouse say the event, on June 29th and 30th, is their way of saying thank you to the community which has supported them since arriving at the Fleur de Lys, in Lowsonford, 10 years ago this month.

‘Fleur Fest’ promises a host of entertainment and activities throughout the weekend, from live musicians and performers – including stilt walkers and bubbleology – to craft and circus skills workshops, market and charity stalls and a dog show with prizes!

Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Fleur Fest

The event is also supporting Warwick charity Molly Ollys, and its founder Rachel Ollerenshaw will be on hand to raise awareness and sell raffle tickets across the two days.

Emma said: “Fleur Fest is our way of saying thanks to friends and fans of the Fleur. Our anniversary is very much something that we wish to celebrate because so few small businesses make it to their 10-year anniversary. So many hospitality businesses, particularly after the last few years, are struggling.

“It’s also a great excuse to have a bit of a party because it’s been such a such a miserable few years for a variety of reasons. It’s a celebration of all the things that this lovely pub offers. And Rachel from Molly Ollys is a beloved friends of so many of our locals so I wanted to support them too.”

Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Fleur Fest

The couple, who moved to Warwickshire from Bristol for their new project, are passionate about hospitality and have combined 30 years of experience in the industry. They work hard to protect the legacy and integrity of the inn, which they recognise as a valued part of local history.

The Fleur de Lys – which translates as Flower of Life – started out as a row of three 15th-century cottages which became canal workers’ accommodation and were later knocked together. Subsequent uses included a blacksmith’s forge and even a mortuary, from where the bodies were taken to Rowington Church in the absence of a village church at the time.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century when it first opened as a tavern, later going on to introduce the ‘pioneering’ idea of serving food and giving rise to the now famous Fleur de Lys pies.

Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Fleur Fest

The inn was mainly frequented by farmers who’d come in for a pie and a pint after they’d finished harvesting. The licensee at the time bought Emscote Mill in Warwick, from where they distributed nationwide but eventually the original pie recipe was sold, becoming what are now Pukka Pies. But, under Emma and Nick’s auspices, in 2018 Lowsonford Pies was born.

“People would come from all over to have a pie served to them through the kitchen hatch, directly from the chef’s hand, which is something you obviously couldn’t get away with today,” says Emma.

“We’ve had people come in who would say they used to come here for a pie before they even had a car!”

Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Fleur Fest
The welcome card Emma and Nick received from the locals 10 years ago.

The couple, who now also juggle running the business with parenting two young children, never forget the responsibility they inherited as this pub’s latest custodians. For Emma, who hails from Birmingham, it has also meant a return ‘home.’

“We’d decided to take on our first pub together when the Fleur came up for sale. I remembered it because my family used to bring us here when we were kids. I recall swinging on the willow trees over the canal.

“We knew immediately this place could be an absolute treasure chest. It’s the perfect location and exactly what you think an Old English country pub should be like. It’s so cozy with the log fires going in the winter and a beautiful canal-side garden to enjoy in the summer months.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved in our time here so far, making the pub much more family-focused, but it’s always a work in progress.”

“Despite certain changes over the last 10 years, we have tried hard to keep honouring the character of the building. The biggest compliment for us is when people say, ‘oh, I used to come here in the 50s for a pie through the kitchen hatch, and it’s just the same as it was then, but a bit nicer!’

“If you think, how many people must have been in and out of this building over the years. – If these walls could talk!”

Fleur De Lys, Lowsonford, Fleur Fest

The hardworking husband and wife team hope the anniversary will be a good opportunity to meet newcomers to The Fleur while also ensuring locals and regulars are a big part of their celebrations.

“The village was so supportive of us and that first night that we were here, they all came out in force to greet us and they bought us a card which I still treasure to this day. We know that we are simply custodians of this beautiful old boozer and never take that for granted.”

Fleur Fest has been curated by Leamington-based events company Dare Productions  and runs between 12-8pm. Tickets are £15 for adults (plus booking fee) and £7 for children (plus booking fee) Children under three go free. Free face painting is also included within the children’s price. Available here.

Little corner of Leamington takes on exciting new identity with launch of Tavola!

Little corner of Leamington takes on exciting new identity with launch of Tavola!

Tavola, Leamington Spa
Photos by Harrison Charles Design

Locals will be able to get their first glimpse of Leamington’s newest restaurant on Friday when the doors finally open to Tavola.

It marks an exciting new chapter in the history of the well-known 200-year-old venue, in Clarendon Street, following a period of closure and transformation.

Tavola, Leamington Spa

The former 44 Café reopens in its new guise on May 10th sporting a theme and décor inspired by Italian surrealist painters of the 1920’s – he vision of Birmingham-based design company Faber.

Proprietor Rob Singleton said: “Tavola is a homage to the bars and trattoria of northern Italy and Rome where the best Italian ingredients are prepared with love, care, and skill and where hospitality is done right.

Tavola, Leamington Spa

“We feel we have created somewhere our neighbourhood can be proud of, somewhere our guests will always find a warm, open-armed welcome.

“Team members who have grown up in Leamington as well as Italy make up our front of house. We all have the same values around hospitality and every member of the team is here because they love people and love nothing more than being part of the most enjoyable parts of people’s lives, eating and drinking and being together.

“The rebranding is a natural extension of the refurbishment and history that we are proud of.”

Tavola, Leamington Spa

Heading up the team is a familiar face to regulars, Luke Hampson, who stayed on as front of house manager and mixologist after several years in the business’s more recent history.

Central to the restaurant’s new culinary identity though is Tuscan executive chef, Martin Serafino. Martin looks forward to showcasing his passion for authentic Italian cooking through his new menu, the secret to which is, he says, a combination of ‘tradition and innovation.’

Tavola, Leamington Spa

“I’m very excited for this new menu. I want to encourage people to try something they never tried before,” he said.

“I love to express myself through food so there will be some experimenting. But my main goal is to share the beauty of my own country as well as celebrating how every country has different traditions and different ways to cook.”

As well as seasonal and specials menus, Martin is also serving up his signature Schiacciata sandwich range – using a special Tuscan pressed focaccia made fresh on the premises.

Tavola, Leamington Spa

Visitors to Tavola – which translates from Italian as ‘a table you would dine at’ – can choose from a new Bottomless Brunch Menu, available every day of the week between 11am-4pm.

Northern Italy inspires the drinks menu too where the art of aperitivo means after work drinks are accompanied by antipasti sharing plates of calamari, olives, and crostini.

Rob said: “We needed to create a space where our guests can both grab a sandwich and a coffee in the day, then come back in the evening to spend a few leisurely hours eating and drinking while enjoying good company.

Tavola, Leamington Spa

“Being a wheelchair user myself, I realise the importance of accessibility and inclusivity and understand the positive impact those adaptations would have. We have completed the first phase of refurbishment, while in the planning stage for the next phase involving ramped access and an accessible toilet and we will announce plans in due course.”

“We look forward to welcoming our first guests and unveiling the vibrant and fresh new look. It’s a look which befits this quirky building and complements the imaginative new menu as we start this new chapter.”

To see the menus or to book, from May 10th onwards, visit here.