Review: The Crown Inn, Church Enstone, Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire
Last week I visited a fabulous village pub with rooms, The Crown at Church Enstone, near Chipping Norton – the epicentre of David Cameron’s smart West Oxfordshire set.
Surrounded by glorious Cotswolds countryside, the 17th century Cotswold stone Crown lies at the heart of the beautifully preserved village. Close to Blenheim Palace, Bicester Village and Soho Farmhouse, it acts as a great base to explore the area.
The idyllic village inn recently launched five luxurious rooms. And on 1st October a new, fully refurbished one-bed self-catering cottage will open – ‘Crown Cottage’ next door to the pub, together with another studio that can be booked, if you fancy a stopover.
The village is full of Cotswold stone and meandering meadows, dotted with pens of pig or sheep. As we strolled before lunch we saw two tractors gently ambling along, to local farms no doubt.
Church Enstone also is home to St Kenelms’, a 12th century Saxon church with a Norman doorway. The church is mentioned in the Canterbury Tales. The Crown was originally built to accommodate the workers who restored and developed the Church in the 16th Century and rumour has it Charles I once stayed at the inn (hence why it is called the Crown), when he visited from Oxford.
Back at the pub, a beamed reception area awaited on entry and we ordered a drink at the cosy bar, before choosing a shaded table in the sunny, cottage-style garden. The conservatory dining room overlooked us.
In the kitchen, our waiter told us chefs, Chris Taylor and Christopher Sheppard, use the very best fresh, locally-sourced produce to create seasonal menus of modern British dishes and pub classics with innovative twists.
My companion’s mushroom soup to start was rich, dense and bursting with flavour. My scallops with pancetta melted in the mouth and were presented on a moreish cauliflower foam. My companion’s steak main was plentiful and cooked well, as was my pappardelle pasta with a spinach and walnut pesto sauce. I was happy to see the dish also came with grilled courgette and one of my favourite cheeses, Grand Padano.
The pub offers a weekly-changing Sunday lunch menu with two courses for £20 and three for £25. There’s also a sandwich board menu, traditional British desserts and for children, The Crown offers half size, half-price portions of most dishes on the menus.
Crown owners and locals, Victoria and George Irvine, bought The Crown, their village pub in May 2018. It is now central to village life and a real community hub, welcoming both locals and visitors to the area.
George, a renowned local artist, and Victoria, chose a simple, rustic palette of soft greys and chalky whites to create a fresh, relaxing vibe that complements and highlights the inn’s airy interiors and its many original features, including exposed oak beams, flagstone and reclaimed timber floors overlaid with Turkish kilims.
The inn’s walls display original contemporary landscapes, photographs and prints by George (all for sale) alongside works by other local artists. George has also created illustrations for the pub’s signage, blackboard displays, menus, wine list and walking maps.
Furnishings include scrubbed pine tables with bouquets of fresh flowers from the Irvine’s garden. The pub also boasts antique pieces and quirky vintage finds, sourced locally.
Collections of cookbooks and modern art tomes adorn windowsills and in the main hallway, a graffitied upright piano accompanies regular singalongs and at Christmas, carol singers.
Upstairs, each of The Crown’s five very comfortable and spacious guestrooms, all en-suite, are named after neighbouring villages and hamlets. Each share a comforting, high-end feel using an inspired mix of styles that blend creams and whites with reclaimed timber floors, neutral carpets and hand-printed wallpapers and fabrics by Rapture & Wright.
Exposed oak beams, rendered Cotswold stone walls and other architectural details add character along with locally sourced vintage and antique finds and original artworks by George and other local artists.
Double/twin rooms are priced from £110 – £150 per night for two people year-round on a B&B basis. There’s also one dog-friendly bedroom available for overnight stays for an extra £10 a night.
Address: Mill Lane, Church Enstone, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 4NN
Phone: 01608 677 262.