October 2020: As I said to Mark, our neighbour, we couldn’t really have picked a worse time to be launching a pub - perhaps a war or maybe an invasion from another planet but you can’t really top being told you’re not allowed to open.
And even though we are now allowed to open it’s still not going to be easy. We can’t just pile in and get going, we can’t even launch the place properly - no party, no boozy first night which is a very different scenario from when I opened the Grosvenor Arms all those years ago. When you do get in you’ll have to wear a face mask, you won’t be able to hug your neighbours or even shake their hands, you can’t huddle round the bar gossiping and laughing, you can’t wander around the building having a look at things, you just have to sit down.
But we must be strong and make the most of a bad situation and do everything we can to ease The Hare into the pulse of village life. Until the regulations ease and we start to move back to normal it’ll be more of a bistro. Hey that sounds OK, I like a good bistro, after all I am a child of the 60’s.
So this is how it will work when all the restrictions are lifted:
There are about 68 covers on 15 tables and we will have no bookings - you just turn up and sit down. This has advantages and disadvantages. You will nearly always be able to get a table by getting there early enough. You’ll never arrive and find all the tables laid up with little reserved cards but no one sitting at them so if you just want a few pints with some friends you can. It’s more fun, you can jamb a few extra people around your table or team up with a neighbour who’s already there. The disadvantage is that you can’t book for Granny’s birthday, what we in the pub business would call event eating. That means we won’t get your business when you absolutely must be guaranteed of a booking - you’ll have to go to the Swan or the Black Bear (you're not allowed to go to the Grosvenor) for that. The exception to this is a small 14 seater private dining room upstairs. You can book that but of course it’s only one table.
And this is what are we going to do in the meantime:
We will be encouraging the booking of tables as we think it’s the only way to open safely. You’ll be able to book on-line through our web site or by phone on 01829 470072 (sorry - we can’t take bookings by email). You will also be able to just turn up but you’ll only be able to stay if we have a seat for you. When you arrive a member of staff will greet you and show you to your table where you can sit and take your mask off. From then on it’s all table service. If you want to look around or go to the loo you must put your mask back on. Weird but that’s what Boris wants. You’ll also find that the young staff will be nervous and uncertain because they won’t have had the chance to try out their skills at the launch parties so you’ll have to be sympathetic. As most of them live in the village you probably know them any way.
The Hare October 2020
Refurbishing the pub
Stripping out the Greyhound
A history of Farndon and The Hare
This information is taken from our planning application and was originally put together by Kirsty Henderson of the excellent Hengerson Heritage. (hendersonheritage.co.uk) She’s a good one to go to if you need advice on historic buildings.
Farndon is a village with archaeological and historical significance, with excavation in the churchyard dating from the Early Bronze Age (1500 BC). Roman fragments have also been discovered in Farndon and are likely to have come from the factory in Holt.
The settlement includes a concentric plan form that includes the circular churchyard wall to St Chad’s, and the outer enclosure of the High Street, which is the reason for its distinctive layout. The discovery of this indicates an early medieval monastic site of some importance and is unique. The Church of St Chad, as with the Church in Holt, is dedicated to St Chad, the first Bishop of the Kingdom of Mercia in AD 669.
The Domesday Book recorded a small population in Farndon. Structures date from the 14th century - the church and bridge, built of the local Triassic red sandstone. Farndon is identified on several historic mapping sources including Saxton’s County map of 1577 and John Speed County map of 1610, who was born in Farndon, and of relevance to this application, the tithe map of 1840, which shows property boundaries
The Civil War affected the village in the 1640's, and the Battle of Farndon Bridge in 1643 between the Roundheads and Royalists, resulted in some devastation of the buildings, bridge and church. The church was garrisoned by the Roundhead soldiers between 1643 to 1645, using the elevated position of the church and natural cliffs to oversee Holt and its castle there which was occupied by the Royalists. Holt castle was largely destroyed, and Charles I defeated at the Battle of Rowton Moor, whereby Chester fell to the Parliamentarians.
In the 17th Century fairs in Farndon overshadowed those at Holt. The town developed organically, with 17th Century farmsteads and vernacular timber framed cottages still evident today in High Street and Church Lane. The polite architectural Georgian buildings, notably to the High Street, indicate a degree of wealth and stability in the village. Later, simple cottages and structures are evident in the village
The area is rural in character and sat within a rural landscape, of which strawberry picking played a key part in the late 19th and early 20th century. There is a strong village character in the village and a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs that serve the community and its environs.
Research by (MacGregor 1992) states that ten inns existed in Farndon, in around 1650 which alludes to a substantive amount of passing trade in the village. This had reduced to five by 1780, and three by 1850, one of the being The Greyhound.
The Farndon Tithe map of 1840 records a Public House and Garden in this location. The building as owned by Richard Dutton and occupied by Thomas Clarke and recorded Trade Directories of 1857. Subsequent landlords were Thomas Townsend (1860), Abraham Thomas (1874), Samuel Thomas (1878), William S. Locke (1883) and Matthew Barrow (1891). At this point The Greyhound offered letting bedrooms and was affiliated to Northgate Brewery, in Chester.
By 1902 John Fleet was landlord. Pubs were generally used to drink beer and its traditional male dominated environment was typical. The Temperance Movement was active during this period, and particularly between 1840 and 1940 for drinking in moderation and not succumbing to the ‘evils of drink’. In the later 19th century Farndon is recorded as having its own Temperance Society although according to Latham (1981) Farndon was “not a drunken place”.
In 1905 the original Greyhound was destroyed by fire. Latham records the diary of Rev. Owen and his assessment of the fire as “The tenants, Mrs. Fleet and her children only just escaping, lost everything. The Farndon fire engine refused to work owing to old age, but the Wrexham 'Steamer' saved adjoining houses; had the gale been blowing as it had for some days, half the village would have been burnt'.
The original building was, according to historic photographs, a simple Georgian double fronted building, rendered with a slate roof. The design of the new building was different. Like the building that preceded it, it was built in a domestic style and is double fronted with a central front door on the same building line as the previous building. Its character was quite different, based on a vernacular Arts and Crafts style. This may have been born out of two factors – changes in the Licencing Laws (1902) that gave magistrates powers to approve designs for public houses, and the influence of the Garden City movement.
Later trade directories record Elisabeth Ann Belson (1906), James Molyneux (1910), G. E. Chesterman (1914), Miss J. E. Jones (1928), J. A. Loughlin (1939) as landlords.
Images kindly provided by www.farndon.org.uk