Moulton/ Grantchester: Packhorse Inn owner Chestnut Inns acquires the Rupert Brooke

From left, Chris Lee and Philip Turner of Chestnut Inns. From left, Chris Lee and Philip Turner of Chestnut Inns.

Sunday, April 13, 2014
1:00 PM

Chestnut Inns, the company behind the Packhorse Inn at Moulton, near Newmarket, has acquired a second pub/restaurant, the Rupert Brooke at Grantchester, near Cambridge.

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Former banker and corporate financier Philip Turner, who formed Chestnut in 2012 to acquire the Packhorse, then known as the King’s Head, said the business had performed ahead of expectations in the first six months since its relaunch.

This had promoted the acceleration of plans for further sites, with a second round of capital raising under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) having recently been completed, he added.

Mr Turner, a local resident, bought the Packhouse in May 2012 and ran the businees as it was for 12 months before closing it in May last year for five months of refurbishment work, assisted by a first round of fundraising under the EIS.

The work included refurbishment of the bedrooms, overseen by Mr Turner’s wife, Amanda, aimed at attracting professional couples on weekend breaks, and Chris and Hayley Lee, who formerly managed the Bildeston Crown, near Hadleigh, where they achieved AA three rosettes status, were hired to manage the business.

The Chestnut Inns’ plan is to identify other freehold sites in the region which, as a result of under capital investment, are not delivering their full potential.

Mr Turner said: “We have a fantastic shareholder base that has supported the business through to phase two and allowed us to seize the opportunity to purchase The Rupert Brooke.

“Its position in Grantchester − rural, historic and literary links and yet within walking distance of central Cambridge − perfectly fits the key criteria of ‘location, location, location’. The rest of the ingredients − a creative outlook and an experienced team to make it work − are what Chestnut Inns are all about.”

The Rupert Brooke will be totally renovated to open its doors again late summer as a village pub and restaurant.

“People are our greatest asset and growing the business provides career development opportunities for our people, helping us recruit and maintain the standards we set ourselves”, said Chris Lee, head chef.

The pub is named after the World War One poet who lived in the village and who wrote, when homesick in Berlin, the acclaimed poem “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester” which ends with the famous couplet: “Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?”

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