Marilyn Hewitt and team
HISTORY OF THE NEW INN
The New Inn at Peas Hill is now the only pub in Shipton Gorge. It was named The New Inn because it replaced a house that was destroyed by fire in the early 19th century. It is owned by the Bridport brewers, JC & RH Palmer, and has always been run by a couple as tenant landlords. Until the late 1950s there was also a pub in Brook Street, The Mason's Arms, but this was closed around the time that the houses at Peas Hill were built. That property then reverted to two homes, "Old Masons" and "Thatch End".
In 2005, following a period of decline, The New Inn was closed by the brewers, who were reluctant to invest in a business that was considered unviable. However, the villagers were determined that the pub should again become the hub of village life. Residents were consulted through questionnaires and public meetings and it was quickly established that this was a cause worth pursuing. A group was formed that would seek advice, negotiate with interested parties, mobilise work parties, and raise funds. The group became a registered company, New Inn Support Limited. (NISL).
NISL having been granted a lease of the pub by Palmers, fund raising through social events, private donations, loans and a grant of £12,000 from DEFRA allowed some £40,000 to be spent on renovation and improvement. The pub interior was re-designed and extensions built. An inspiring number of residents offered to help with the building and refurbishment which highlighted the talent and skill that exists within the village. It is estimated that work to the tune of £60,000 was completed by volunteers, but the true value lies in the coming together and in the doing.
The New Inn re-opened in August 2006, and the premises are now sub-let by NISL to Marilyn Hewitt, who runs the business as a private partnership. It is now very much a viable concern, attracting customers from far and wide. During the summer period many visitors call at the New Inn for refreshments, particularly walkers taking advantage of the lovely countryside and the network of footpaths and bridleways in the parish. There is a good selection of old photographs of the village in the bar, making it an interesting place to start for those wanting to know more about Shipton Gorge as it was or just coming here to explore the village.
Another group, Friends of New Inn, continue to raise funds for further improvements and maintenance. Still more volunteers help with the gardening, landscaping and preparation of hanging baskets for the summer. The winter during which the pub was closed was, according to one elderly villager, "a long, dark time", but the pub closure brought many of the villagers together, and could almost be seen now as a positive event.For further information on opening times, facilities and events contact the pub by phoning 01308 897302 or visit The New Inn's web site at http://www.thenewinn-shipton.co.uk