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Ownership quartet aspire to restore Peacock Inn in Chelsworth as 'jewel in village's crown'

A 14th century rural pub – referred to as “the jewel in the crown” of its village – has set sights on returning to its former glory under a new ownership team, ahead of a relaunch later this month.

Interior and exterior renovations are entering the final stages at The Peacock Inn in Chelsworth, in preparation for its planned reopening on June 25, along with the adjoining accommodation block.

The sale of the pub was completed in April to Olly and Vicky Sloboda, of Hitcham, who are moving into the pub trade for the first time, and Chris and Jenny Pooley, from Monks Eleigh, who previously owned hospitality businesses in Ipswich.

Peacock Inn in Chelsworth. Photo by Mark Bullimore.
Peacock Inn in Chelsworth. Photo by Mark Bullimore.

The quartet said The Peacock had been their local pub for years, and they could not turn down the opportunity to take it over, after the last owner Will Cripps, who ran the business since 2010, announced last year his intention to pursue other endeavours.

“Chelsworth is a stunningly beautiful village and The Peacock has been the jewel in the crown,” Olly told the Free Press.

“It’s not my trade. I work in communications for Amazon and Chris works in financial services and property. But, when the previous owner said he was going to sell it, we discussed whether we wanted to try to restore it to its former glory.

“The first thing is just the village itself. Chelsworth is so beautiful and that south-facing vista and the setting is just stunning, plus the pub itself is so historical.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful building and there are so many original features. Our house in Hitcham is 600 years old and Chris’ and Jenny’s house in Monks Eleigh is a similar age, so we’re very familiar with looking after this kind of Grade II-listed building.”

Among the work taking place at the pub, located off The Street, near to the River Brett, is a full revamp of the restaurant and bar area, as well as a refurbishment of the garden.

Olly acknowledged the challenges that have faced hospitality venues over the last year, since the Covid-19 pandemic began, but added that the positive response within the village had given them confidence they can make the pub a success.

He explained their vision for The Peacock is based on keeping things local, with plans to establish a ‘kitchen garden’ less than a mile away to source ingredients from.

The pub is also expecting to employ around 20 people, either full-time or part-time, including local head chef Sam Clover.

“I think hospitality has obviously been extremely hard hit,” said Olly. “Our view is that it feels like there was a lot of pent-up demand and people have missed the opportunity to go to their local pub.

“Another part of it is that this business needed to be brought back to life for the benefit of the economy. A lot of people have left the industry and we want to bring them back.

“The response has been absolutely fantastic in the village. People feel very attached to the pub and, while it’s not village property, there’s a feeling, emotionally, that it is.

“Once people have seen our intention and the investment being made in renovations, they have been really excited. The parish council and the villagers have been so supportive and it makes us more motivated.”

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