Occupying a prominent roadside position on the edge of the village of Zeals, The Bell & Crown is easily accessible from the A303 and situated just two miles from the Stourhead National Trust gardens, which attracts around 400,000 visitors during the year. The village of Zeals borders the western edge of Salisbury Plain and is about 11 miles from the towns of Frome and Warminster and 23 miles from Stonehenge.
The Bell & Crown retains the characteristics of its past as a former coaching inn with its flagstone floors and large open fireplaces. The original buildings have been added to over the years to provide larger back of house areas, including a sizeable commercial kitchen. There exists plenty of scope for the new owners to invest in developing letting rooms to take advantage of the passing trade coming off the A303 looking for a stopover, including many visitors to Stourhead, as well as commercial business trade during the week.
Previous owner, John Harrington is an iconic figure within the pub industry, having built up a reputation as a popular chef owner operator. Christie & Co has been associated with his journey going back some 25 years, with Neil Morgan, Managing Director – Pubs & Restaurants at Christie & Co, having sold John his first pub, the Mallet Arms in Newton Tony, back in the 1990s.
The Bell & Crown has been purchased by the Davids family from Salisbury, who run a small hospitality business in the local area. Ethan Davids comments, “My sister and I were born above a pub, so you could say that hospitality runs in our blood! We’ve been in the market for a country pub for nearly a year now, and the Bell & Crown’s characterful charm, prominent nature and excellent location on the Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire border meant it was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.
“We aim to build on John Harrington’s hard work in creating a strong reputation locally, offering genuine hospitality, and great food and drink in picturesque country surroundings. Our seasonal menu will offer guests the best of locally sourced produce, value and quality, with dishes you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.
“We’re passionate about beer, and as a free of tie public house, we are fortunate to be able to support local and independent micro-breweries, serving guests an ever-changing selection of real ales. Our wine list will be extensive and interesting, offering value from top to bottom.
“The Bell & Crown was traditionally a coaching inn, and our plans to develop the upstairs to create six en suite letting rooms means we’ll be taking the pub back to its initial purpose, albeit without the horses. We’d like to invite guests to experience the charm and atmosphere of a newly refurbished country pub before retiring to the confines of a highly finished, comfortable bedroom.
“The pub will be shut for around eight weeks whilst it’s given a facelift and we begin work on the upstairs. Once it’s finished it will be managed under the guidance of Ethan, Jordan and schoolfriend Tommy who, collectively, cannot wait to welcome their first guests. You can visit the www.bellandcrown.com for regular updates on the development.”
Nicholas Calfe, Director at Christie & Co, handled the sale and comments, “It was pleasure handling the sale for John and Lyn Harrington who I have known for many years and I do wish them all the best in the future. I am really excited by the new owners plans to transform the Bell & Crown and having dropped by to wish them well, I can see that work is well under way. I can’t wait to see how it looks when the work is done and the pub is reopened!”