The Bradley Hare, in Maiden Bradley, is the ideal English pub for today, and tomorrow. Yes, the building, in the Wiltshire countryside 90 minutes west of London, goes back a couple of hundred years. It was put up in a clearing in the former Selwood Forest that is still part of the massive estate of the Duke of Somerset. It is now, as of April this year, completely made-over by three Millennial friends. One, James Thurstan Waterworth, is an antiques-loving interior designer. What more is needed?
Seven of the 12 bedrooms are in the main house, 14 stairs up from the bar and restaurant – my favourite is #12, upstairs in the other building, once a skittle alley (it has a free-standing bath-tub, within reach of the enormous bed). Each bedroom is unique, but light and bright, stunning designer wallpapers complementing the occasional authentic 18th century chair paired with a just-made chest hewn from a single tree trunk. A retro-look radio complements strong connectivity (not easy with thick stone walls, and since the village of Maiden Bradley has iffy phone connection you speak to Sydney, say, via WiFi calling). You have organic toiletries, and instead of the now-ubiquitous espresso capsules, here they put home-ground organic coffee into individual bags, and there’s a kettle.
GM Ben Jones was attracted to The Bradley Hare partly because he saw the concept as new-luxury, with minimum branding. Who cares who has produced what? Who wants fancy food? I could have had a steak but opted for a couple of flatbreads, smoked aubergine with parsley salad, followed by an absolutely superb cod’s roe and radish. I could have drunk a Bunny Mary, Bloody Mary with carrot juice and smoked seasalt, or a 175ml glass, or carafe or bottle, of, say, organic Ch Leoube Côtes du Provence: the choice of size shows yes, the customer is in charge. Next time I will try more, and sit in the large garden under safari-type tent awnings, and breathe in perfume from banks of lavender bushes. Repeat visits, too, must definitely include Rachel’s Evolve Beauty treatments in the Potting Shed spa.
Maiden Bradley, by the way, is base-place, for cultural sightseeing. Think Stonehenge, and gardens at Stourhead. It is also only 15 minutes’ drive from Bruton, a small town put on the global art map with the 2014 arrival of Hauser & Wirth, the Swiss-origin innovative art leaders run by Iwan and Manuela Wirth, and her mother Ursula Hauser.
The gallery is part of the 45-hectare complex that is Durslade Farm, which itself dates back to the late 18th century: today, as well as its priceless modern art galleries, there is a highly-respected farm shop and farmhouse kitchen restaurant. And, never standing still, the Swiss-trio have turned their former offices into a pop-up arts and craft centre Made, run by director Jacqueline Moore. Through September 2021 Made hosts Forest + Found, pots and painted canvases by Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth. So see what an English pub called Bradley Hare can offer as experiences!