A perennial gem of a pub that has been in the family for 250 years has been named the best in the country in CAMRA’s Pub of the Year competition.
The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire scooped the top prize after judges praised its strong community focus, relaxed ambience and great beer. The only pub in Berkshire with a Grade-II listed interior, it last won the coveted Pub of the Year title nearly 30 years ago to the day.
CAMRA’s Pub of the Year organiser Ben Wilkinson said: “The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away. 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.”
The Bell Inn last scooped the award three decades ago, when it was run by the current owner’s parents, Heather and Ian Macaulay. Her son, Hugh, was delighted to see the award come home again after so many years.
Manager Hugh 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.”
Pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, community focus and the quality of the beer. Runners-up in the competition include the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, the George & Dragon in Hudswell and the Red Lion in Preston, Hertfordshire.
The Bell Inn is being presented today with an award for its achievement.