The Saxon Inn is run by husband and wife team Craig & Emma.
How did you end up at The Saxon Inn?
Having both worked in the construction industry for many years whilst based in Sussex we thought it was time for a change. We decided to move house and looked online for a pub, The Saxon ticked all the boxes and we made the move ASAP.
What’s your favourite local place to visit on an afternoon off?
We have our Staffie, Widget, at the pub with us – so whenever we can we walk locally, or up the Saxon Hill Fort. As time, and lockdown, allows we have slowly started to explore the area in our campervan as well.
Tell us about your 2020…
As soon we got the news that lockdown was coming, we knew we had to adapt quickly. We installed a pizza
oven, researched every kind of takeaway container, and adapted the rest of our menu to suit. We tried to keep things interesting and offer something a bit different with pie nights, Chinese, curry, and recently Tex Mex nights which have proved to be a great success. We continued to offer takeaway through all the different lockdowns and tiers, including delivery with the help of some locals to some of our villagers who have been shielding.
What’s been your biggest challenge since taking over – apart from COVID, obviously!
Hitting the ground running with little experience in the pub trade was a big challenge! The experience we did have was somewhat out of date, and we had to learn quickly and in the peak of the summer months. The previous landlords really helped us to settle in and we were very grateful for their help.
What are you most proud of?
We redeveloped the bar area and this was the first part we “put our mark on”. We are both proud of the results and hope everyone else likes it too!
What part of the pub is your absolute favourite?
In the winter – definitely has to be in front of the fire in the bar area, although its probably the smallest part of the pub it always has the greatest atmosphere. In the summer – you can’t beat sitting out on the terrace in the
sun. When we did the bar refurb we also hid a digital time capsule in the wall. As well as pictures of local people, the area, and the news of the time, one of our regulars, David Pope, did some research into the history for us; ‘The New Inn’ was opened nas a beerhouse between 1861 and 1865 as evidenced by the 1861 census which does not
feature the business and the first licensee, Herbert Chambers, is shown as a rushbasket maker.
The first mention we have found is a newspaper cutting from 1865 referring to a fine on a beerhouse keeper from Child Okeford, Herbert Chambers, for having his house open after 10 o’clock! (legal opening hours for a regulated beerhouse were 4am till 10pm!). According to the census data 1871 – 1911 and 1939 the premises were a ‘beershop’, an off licence and a shop selling sweets. It was situated in the middle of a terrace of three houses.
In 1904 ‘The New Inn’ was sold by the Brewery, Fontmell Magna to J.L.Marsh of Marsh’s Brewery Blandford for £300. In 1930 Robert Hart became the landlord and in 1949 applied for a full public house licence. In 1955 Mary E. Hart (Robert’s wife) is stated in a newspaper article as the Licensee of the New Inn. Robert died in 1958 and Mary in 1965; both buried at St Nicholas Church. Sometime between 1955 and 1965 the pub changed its name to The Saxon Inn.
Which dish is your most popular?
We’ve definitely seen a pivot towards certain foods in lockdown; beer battered haddock and chips, The Saxon Warrior pizza, and of course our burgers have been very popular. What’s next – do you have big plans on the horizon? We had plenty of plans before lockdown for theme nights, beer festivals, and events. Once the future of social distancing and safety become clear we can get back to putting some dates in the diary.
We have a Mother’s Day takeaway brunch planned for the 14th March and a special night to “celebrate” a year in lockdown featuring some special dishes and trying to bring a little bit of fun to what could otherwise be a pretty