Welcome to The Pilgrims Restaurant site, in which we will try to give you a glimpse of what awaits, should you visit. So, are you sitting comfortably? Let me tell you a very short story.
Under the wide open Somerset skies, surrounded by fields and hedges and trees, lies The Pilgrims Restaurant, an old stone Pub now in the guise of award-winning Restaurant*, complete with Rooms. With a passion for local produce which inspires a menu of unique dishes – and an attention to detail which, should you choose, will guarantee a memorable stay. And, since The Pilgrims has been a pub for most of its many years, we have kept the bar and the lounge with its log fire to relax around, either pre or post dinner or after a bracing walk if you’re staying.
*Officially a four star Restaurant with Rooms with Gold Award and AA Rosette.
Although there is space to spare we run a small operation, because we do it ourselves. Sally runs the place with the relaxed efficiency that ensures a warm welcome and superb service. Jools’ cooking is based simply on treating stunning local ingredients with the imagination they inspire and the respect they deserve. A menu inspired by the produce grown and reared on our doorstep, and the artisans making cheeses, ciders and smoking eels in the nooks and crannies we’ve gradually discovered. And Stylish? Well, we may be in the country but we can still be civilised about it. (Farrow and Ball are only in Dorset after all,) A small but very able team assist, bless ‘em.
We never take more than 20 covers in the restaurant – and having only the five rooms, a maximum of ten guests can stay any night. Breakfast is as good as it gets and your oh so relaxed dinner just gets better - and then you are then only a few steps from your luxurious bedroom. Staying guests are welcome to use the ‘bar’ - a log fire in winter and the cool of thick stone walls and flagstone floors in the heat of summer - or the garden during the day. We don’t fuss or hover, the place is yours, but just ring the bell and refreshments are at hand.
A bit of history
Why The Pilgrims? Well the story goes that in the dark ages one of the paths used by pilgrims seeking King Arthur’s Tomb at Glastonbury Abbey passed through Lovington, and that the village was the last bastion of civilisation before these intrepid souls faced the hazards of the marshlands surrounding the raised ground on which Glastonbury stands. No change there then.
Whatever the truth of the matter, (and this bit of road is officially named Pilgrims Way, and we are still officially The Pilgrims Rest Inn) we’ve only revelled in that title for forty or fifty years. Before that it was The New Inn, presumably until it got too old. The “Old” coaching inn is reputed to be the lovely farmhouse with the steps up to the front door, on your left as you leave the village on the way to Castle Cary.
Our property title deeds apparently went up in a fire circa 1980, so documentation is non existent, but the best guess is the building has stood for around three hundred years.
The English countryside is dotted with chocolate-box roses-round-the-door pubs on village greens, where the sun’s always shining and nothing disturbs the birdsong except the occasional thwack of leather on willow. And sometimes they even play cricket. But even when it was just a village pub The Pilgrims was never pretty. Solidly built from local stone as a one room pub with a couple of cottages attached and a cider barn out the back, and variously extended over a couple of centuries, the outside was at best practical rather than grand. Not great for first impressions.
Over the last 17 years we have gradually evolved into a restaurant, although something of the relaxed atmosphere of the pub remains. Along with developing the menu we have worked on the interior, retaining many of the features while adding contemporary comforts, and converting the cider barn to rooms in 2007.
Although the outside may not make the promises that old pubs often make - and which so often lead to disappointment - we promise that the opposite of that disappointment is what you’ll find at The Pilgrims