Dusting Off The Ashford Arms

It’s been six weeks since we made the announcement that we’d acquired the lease for the Ashford Arms in Ashford in the Water.

There’s a funny story of how it came about.

I’ve been going to a quiz at my village pub. It’s hilarious and there are always familiar faces there each month. Back in the spring, at the pub quiz, an old friend came to me and said, “Please Rob will you take over the Ashford? It’s my local and something really needs to happen to the property.”

I’d never been to The Ashford Arms. It had been closed for four years. In my lifetime I’d never even been for a drink or a meal. I had no idea what it was like. The next day, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to drive past. Sure enough, it was boarded up and the 'for let' signs were looking a little crusty around the edges.

I made a phone call about it that Friday afternoon. By Monday I’d started the ball rolling and went to visit.

I could see the potential straight away. Many months and meetings later we signed the lease and the ball is now snowballing.

We are in a sticky spot

We are now in that sticky spot of having exchanged contracts but we are now waiting to complete.

You’ve probably been here yourself. That agonising period of a move where you spend an unhealthy amount of time on hold to solicitors while plotting whether it’s safe to order a sofa or get a kitchen designed.

That’s the point we find ourselves at now with Ashford. So while planning, building and legalities are ironed out, we have been busying ourselves with my favourite part of the process – design! I'm thrilled to be working alongside Concorde BGW and Inventive DA, who are both bringing some great ideas to the table.

In the lockdowns when The Maynard had to close and I was forced to go on Universal Credit, I found solace in interior design. Confident that the staycation market would boom after lockdown, I busied myself designing new bedrooms at The Maynard. As Longbow grows and I’m delegating tasks to my talented teams, the design is the one part I don’t want to let go of. I love it too much.

“It looks like someone just upped and left in the night!”

We went to Ashford last week, taking head chef, Chris, and sales and marketing manager, Charlotte, to have a nosey and discuss some of the mood boards and design concepts.

I loved seeing the rich textures, geometric designs and the warm and plush fabrics that will become the quirky and cosy ambience of the place. However, we’re a way off plumping pillows and picking out light fittings.

“It looks like someone just upped and left in the night!” Said Charlotte, slightly holding her nose at the musty, dusty bedrooms where towels are discarded on the floor and beds unmade.

Chris found the old menus, blowing dust off to reveal the pub favourites that had kept locals and tourists full and happy for many years.

Everyone could see the potential in the place. Even Charlotte who was a little creeped out in the darkness shrieked, “Just a lightbulb would help!” She smiled as she wandered through, saying, “The walls are wonky and the place is quirky but that’s all part of its charm and character.”

That’s what I fell in love with when I first visited The Ashford Arms. I could see the heritage, the character and knew with a little passion that it could be made better than ever.

Hopefully, the contracts will be exchanged soon, the builders will be able to start and we will begin the beautiful and rewarding task of breathing life back into The Ashford Arms.

In the meantime, when you subscribe to our newsletter you can sample our brand-new Autumn menu at both The Maynard and The George for 20% off until Saturday, October 21st.

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