The Wellington Arms
Muddy heads to Stratfield Turgis, just on the Berkshire border for a country pub stay - with a modern twist.
The Wellington Arms in Stratfield Turgis, sits just 7 miles from Basingstoke along the A33 and just over 10 miles from Reading along the same stretch. Situated on the Wellington Estate (home to the Dukes of Wellington), the pub has recently undergone a massive refurbishment bringing it solidly into the modern age. There is ample parking for guests even has two different types of electric car charging port – something you wouldn’t necessarily expect out in the countryside. The rooms are split between the “old house” (seen above) and the modern extension towards the back, which includes a number of accessible rooms.
Stepping into the building the first thing that struck me was the perfect balance of old and new. With polished hardwood floors and period fixtures throughout, you could be fooled into thinking is this just like any traditional country pub. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you’ll be thrown by something quote contemporary. The level of “quirk” in this place is absolutely spot on.
The bar area flows through to the restaurant, with a relaxed vibe throughout. Lots of leather and old country house colours are very much the theme, with pictures of the Duke of Wellington dotted throughout. There was no set type of clientele – locals for a drink, weekend away-ers and a few young families.
There’s also plenty of outside space here, with the restaurant having its own garden, complete with parasols and industrial heaters for the colder months (see below). The green field next to the pub is about to be developed into a beautiful wedding garden as well. To the other side of the building sits the function area, The Wellington Suite, with its very own outside seating area with a covered roof.
We were staying in the “old house” which is located directly over the bar/restaurant area. Up a small flight of stairs, we were treated to a very large airy room big enough for a king size bed, large sofa bed, desk, travel cot with still plenty of space for the kids to lark about. The decor was simple but tasteful and I rather fell in love with the leather sleigh bed.
The bathroom was modern and extremely clean, complete with rain shower. There was no bath but other rooms to do come equipped with claw tub baths. There were plenty of towels for all four of us, Espa smellies from nearby Surrey and lovely fluffy dressing gowns to boot.
In the cupboard was a coffee pod machine that came complete with Mozzo Coffee from Winchester, kettle and some similarly indie teabags. There was also a mini-bar stocked with a range of drinks, many of which were local, and two cartons of fresh milk for the tea and coffee.
The bed was extremely comfortable – very firm, with down duvet and pillows – and despite the proximity to the bar we didn’t hear a peep which made for a fantastic night’s sleep.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Provenance is huge with this place and the pub is owned by a company based in Surrey. Because of this the food and drink menu is full of Hampshire and Surrey produce. Knowing the portions can be quite large we opted to skip a starter (though the British Sharer (£20.95) complete with Black Pudding sausage rolls and pressed ham hock terrine did sound rather amazing).
I ordered the prime Surrey farm sirloin steak (£23.95) which came with salad, grilled tomatoes, flat mushroom and a huge wodge of extra crispy chips. I always order my steak rare and I can confirm it came out perfectly done (huge thumbs up from me) and smelt amazing straight from the grill. There wasn’t a single bit of gristle on it either.
My husband ordered a lamb and mint pie (£14.95) with mash, greens and red wine jus. The hot-water crust pastry was Paul Hollywood perfect and the filling was generous and tasty.
For dessert, I picked the white chocolate and raspberry torte which was delicious and super light (despite heavy amounts of chocolate and cream!)
Kids are well-catered for here. Child’s Farm smellies (again, from just around the corner near Basingstoke), cute sponges and little rubber ducks in the bathroom. There was also a huge box of toys and books (see below) for the kids to amuse themselves with as the adults relaxed.
There isn’t a play area here but the restaurant garden is fenced so they can’t dash off into the wilderness and the staff went absolutely above and beyond to make them feel welcome. The kids’ menu is simple but full of good choices and local produce.
OUT & ABOUT
This leafy part of Hampshire is located right on the border of Berkshire and has some fantastic things to do nearby. If you’ve got the kids in tow then it’s definitely worth visiting nearby Wellington Country Park. With a petting zoo, loads of play areas and a mini-train, mum and dad can get lots of that lovely fresh air and the kids can go wild on the equipment. Entrance is £13.50 for 3 years plus.
If it’s just the grown-ups, then Stratfield Saye House, home to the Dukes of Wellington is within minutes of the pub and is a fantastic example of Georgian-era architecture. Also nearby, and part of the estate, is Wellington Riding equestrian centre which holds lots of events and classes for those fancy getting on the saddle. And to top it off there’s also the Wellington Farm Shop where you can buy fantastic local food and have a rather lovely afternoon tea.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: A romantic weekend away in the country or taking the kids to get some fresh air. This is also a great place if you like simple – but well executed – British food.
NOT FOR: Those looking for a busy metropolitan vibe. This is countryside charm to a tee and while it is close to some busier areas its all about getting away from the hustle and bustle for a while.
THE DAMAGE: ££ – Reasonable value and certainly worth it for the little extras. A double or family room for one night is £155 with continental breakfast included (cooked breakfast is an extra charge but definitely worth it). The food here was on the higher end of the country pub price scale but the quality and support of local trade is definitely worth the extra outlay.
The Wellington Arms, Stratfield Turgis, Basingstoke RG27 0AS. Tel: 01256 882214