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Wednesday, 30 September 2020
A VILLAGE pub and restaurant has been named the best in the country.
The Baskerville in Lower Shiplake won the pub of the year category in this year’s VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, which were announced on Monday.
The virtual awards ceremony, hosted by television presenter Julia Bradbury, was watched by previous tenants Kevin and Kate Hannah, who stepped down this week to run another rural pub in Yorkshire, and their successor Simon Cromack, a hospitality professional.
The Baskerville, which won a regional award last year, was one of 53 finalists across 15 categories.
Mr Cromack, 47, of Ashampstead in West Berkshire, has been sent a certificate by VisitEngland and expects to receive a plaque bearing the organisation’s rosette.
He said the award was largely down to the Hannahs but he was delighted and promised to keep up the high standard.
Shortly after the pub
re-opened when the coronavirus lockdown measures were eased on July 4, Mr Cromack set up a Middle Eastern-style tent in the grounds called the Baskerville Bedouin Bar and Lounge.
He is running this in partnership with Charlie Carr, with whom he launched the Bedouin tent at the Henley Festival 10 years ago.
The pair decided to set it up at Shiplake as the festival didn’t happen this year because of the pandemic.
Guests sit at low tables and seats in “pods” of up to eight people and the tent seats 30 in total, which makes up for the 24 covers Mr Cormack lost when he had to space tables further apart in the main building.
The tent could stay in place in the long term but have different themes.
Mr Comack, who is married with two children, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to receive the title but it’s very much down to Kevin and Kate, who’ve only just left.
“I’ve only been running it for a couple of months and wouldn’t be in this position without everything they accomplished last year.
“Nonetheless, it’s a very prestigious title that we’re proud to have. Only three pubs were shortlisted, so getting that far was reward enough but to win gold is very special.
“I was elated when it was announced and so were Kevin and Kate, who were on camera. The look of shock and happiness on their faces was incredible.
“We’ve been very successful since we re-opened. We’re lucky to have a lovely big garden, which allows us to repurpose some of our space to create the Bedouin bar and offer more of an experience. It feels a bit like going on holiday on your doorstep and we’ve been full on most days.”
The Baskerville is a free house owned by the Tavern Propco.
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