Ridgewell: New landlords of The King’s Head accidently hit artillery shell with pickaxe as they renovated rear garden
19:23 06 August 2014
The new landlords of a pub in north Essex were left shell-shocked after they uncovered a large artillery shell in their back garden.
Mark Brailsford uncovered the shell as he cleared some ivy from the garden of The King’s Head, in Ridgewell, on Tuesday afternoon.
Having inadvertently whacked the shell a couple of times with a pickaxe, Mr Brailsford soon realised what he had unearthed and called the police, with the shell being removed by a bomb disposal unit from Colchester Garrison.
Mr Brailsford and his wife, Dawn, the pub’s landlady, only re-opened the pub three weeks ago having lived in Ridgewell for 14 years, and Mrs Brailsford said it was by far and away the most unusual discovery of the pub’s year-long refurbishment.
“Luckily it wasn’t a fully live shell,” she said.
“We’ve been refurbishing the whole building for a year and, even though we found a wasps’ nest, I think this tops it.”
Bomb experts found the blue shell was only an inactive practice one, but had to tread carefully given that some still carried a charge.
A keen military historian, Mr Brailsford initially thought he had hit an agricultural hose before he saw some bruising at the shell’s base. RAF Ridgewell was host to the 90 Squadron of the RAF Bomber Command and the 381st Bombardment Group from the United States Army Air Force during the Second World War.
However, the pub building dates back much earlier, to the 16th century, and Mr and Mrs Brailsford have revamped the sign to link to someone even older – King Edmund, as opposed to the previous king’s head of Henry VIII.
Mrs Brailsford said: “We have tried to keep everything within East Anglia, using local breweries and butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers for our food.
“We are first and foremost a pub which sells food, rather than a restaurant or gastro-pub, but our food is pretty good.
“Having been closed for over a year there were a lot of rumours we were going to make it a house. But that was not the case, and we are keen to let people know we are open.”
The pub, in Chapel Road, is open from Wednesday to Sunday from noon each day, and will also host live music events.