All is peaceful, as I wake to a gentle clip clopping echoing down the lane outside – an early rider enjoying the crisp, yet bright autumn morn. Double wrapped in my downy king-size, I pull down on the toggle above. This sends my Dorma blind folding up against my sloped window overhead, shooting sudden rays of warm light across the cosy room.
I am staying overnight in the eaves of the six-year old, barn-style accommodation, of award-winning Cotswolds gastro pub The Plough in Kingham, also voted ‘England’s Favourite Village’ 2006 by Country Life magazine. Situated in the Evenlode valley, the Oxfordshire village is both beautiful and unspoiled, with a large open green, overlooked by elegant stone and thatched cottages, mostly dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Our room’s stylish interior boasts some nice surprises– seeds to plant back in your own garden at home, a grand white rolltop bath, Cotswold Candles and a mini cafetière with freshly ground coffee, for a proper morning wake up call.
The quiet is delightful and I imagine part of the attraction for guests to The Plough, themselves escaping for a night away from busy cities or towns, for some rural R&R.
The pub and its rooms were taken over eight months ago by owner Matt Beamish, an experienced and ebullient hotelier, and his florist wife Katie, who have rejuvenated the property.
Already in an enviable location – along with regular horses riding past, the pub and rooms look on to a village green scene straight out of film The Holiday.
The Plough now flaunts Matt’s family’s own flair – with ancient artwork from his in-laws attics on the walls (also look out for the signed Matisse and Dali prints) and lovely touches, such as pages containing recipes from an antique cookbook pasted as wallpaper in the ladies loos. (Not sure what reads in the Gents – perhaps there’s a subtle message there…). In any case, guests will be charmed if they visit.
And head chef Jonny Pons’s menu at The Plough certainly stands up to its Michelin-starred neighbours. The previous night, my mother and I ate dinner in the pub’s cosy, dining barn – akin to a country cottage sitting room I thought.
Mother sampled the parsnip and ginger soup with sage & shallot dressing – a warming hearty bowl that actually was so generous, it might have worked as a main.
And we both next opted for Jonny’s Old Spot pork belly with black pudding, bubble & squeak, carrot and apple relish, which again was cooked to perfection and undeniably filling (with the pork meltingly good underneath sweet crackling) – presentation straight out of MasterChef.
Yet the piece de resistance on the menu had to be my starter of ‘Smokin Brothers’ Salmon, laid in strips adjacent to dotted Avruga Caviar, capers, pink shallots and gherkins. A delicious work of art on the plate – a masterpiece of flavours on the palate.
Chatting to Matt the owner I discovered more of The Plough’s history – a 17th Century building, it had always been a public house as long as is remembered, with beer being brewed and served through the front hatch – now a window.
We felt the dining space was busy on the night, with most tables full, yet Matt assured us this was unusually quiet, with the pub always even buzzier on Fridays.
Breakfast the next morning was a sophisticated offering of home-baked croissants, pain au chocs, home-made granola, yoghurts and a mixed fruit bowl. Guests can serve themselves, filling up chic little Danish-style ramekin bowls.
Still full from the night before, we sadly only managed just over half of our brilliantly cooked vegetarian breakfasts. Yet we felt fully satisfied and fully refreshed, from our Cotswolds mini break at The Plough.
Address: The Green, Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6YD
Phone: 01608 658327
Travel info: By train the village’s main line railway station is 1.5 hours from London, or visitors from further afield should find flights to Birmingham or flights to London, the two nearest airports.
The Kingham Plough is thrilled to announce that it is the winner of a 2020 Good Food Guide Gastro Pub Award. The Good Food Guide Awards are by invitation only and each year venues are hand-picked to join the top awards programme which symbolises the very best in their field.
Open to all eateries throughout the UK, the totally independent Good Food Awards rewards the best individual places to eat in the country by county. The Kingham Plough is up there with the best for overall dining excellence, best practice and individual entrepreneurship in Oxfordshire and was awarded this Good Food Awards honour after much praise from its customers.