The Bell in Kersey is a pub that’s close to my heart. Pre-children my husband and I lived in the village and spent a lot of time there putting the world to rights at the bar with other locals, or tucking into then-chef Jonathan’s delicious Sunday roasts. 

Up until lockdown it remained a regular haunt for us and our friends, being a fun walk across the fields and a good spot for pies, fish and chips and a proper pint. 

It had fallen a little by the wayside according to more recent visitors...but now appears to be back to former glory, with chef/landlord Dan Hibble (who really knows his stuff) firing up the stoves. 

The new-look Bell really does take me back to its heyday. The whole place has been given a lick of paint. The floors scrubbed. The bar and restaurant have been separated and defined, with the former offering fun barrel-style tables and comfy sofas, and the latter two dining rooms with chairs you can actually sink into. 

Across the pub the scent of the two roaring log fires pervades the senses, only overtaken by the odd waft from the kitchen. 

And there’s an elegant new sign outside, which is quite lovely. 

East Anglian Daily Times:

East Anglian Daily Times:

Dan is no stranger to a Suffolk pub. Having worked all over the world in high-end restaurants and then on cruise ships, he ran the kitchens at The Crown in Stoke By Nayland for nearly 10 years, serving thousands of customers, and working with some of the area’s top suppliers and producers. 

Working at The Bell as, essentially, a one-man-band, and a lot of care has gone into the transformation. 

East Anglian Daily Times:

“We fell in love with the pub a couple of years ago actually,” he says. “Someone pipped us to the post signing the paperwork at the time. It’s just a beautiful place and the building has so much history. We like the place and realised it would be supported locally. 

“There’s still a lot we want to do outside and upstairs, but we’re getting there. We put a lot of time into cleaning and painting everywhere, and we spent a fortune on furniture.” 

The refurb has, he says, been a bit of a baptism of fire...or should that be water? A burst stopcock flooded the ground floor when they took the pub on, creating what Dan describes as a river. They ran out of oil. “You name it, it happened. But we’re still here, still plugging away,” he grins. 

As we chat Dan is working on dishes for the new menu, which will sit alongside all those pub classics people know and love. 

Those include a liver dish, battered haddock with triple-cooked chips, garden peas, lemon and tartare sauce, and ham, fried eggs and triple-cooked chips. 

“At lunchtimes we’re going to have things like beetroot fritters with mango chutney and yoghurt, mussels, mushrooms on toast and fishcakes, but keeping on those other traditional things. Then for dinner we might add in something like a steamed suet pudding."

East Anglian Daily Times:

East Anglian Daily Times:

East Anglian Daily Times:

Talking of puddings, and desserts are one of the things he concedes (from a list of home-cooked, fresh food) that are bought in, albeit from a renowned source. They come from Suffolk’s D’Hotel Patisserie and known pastry chef Jean Baptiste. “We’ve got his Biscoff cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fondant. As we go on I’ll probably put on my own rice pudding and crumble too.” 

With a background working in the area, Dan has good contacts for sourcing his ingredients, including Clarke & Son in Long Melford for meat, Just Picked produce from Ballingdon Hill in Sudbury, other fresh items from Didier Piot, and seafood from Colchester Fresh Fish on Mersea Island. 

He says he prides himself on keeping the menu local and small, and changing it up as often as he can so there’s always something to entice regular visitors. 

Already proving very popular are the Sunday roasts, which sound like a real feast. “They are picking up so much,” he says. “Last weekend we had chicken, sirloin of roast beef, and a nut roast on for the vegetarians. We do duck fat roast potatoes, braised red cabbage, cauliflower cheese, honey roast parsnips and carrots, and we added on Brussels with bacon and chestnuts. Everything comes with Yorkshires too, of course.

“I’d say it’s been going pretty well so far. Long may it continue.” 

East Anglian Daily Times:

The Bell is open for food seven days a week, with lunch service from midday each day, and dinner from around 5.30pm. Bookings are recommended as word-of-mouth spreads. 

The pub is family and dog-friendly. 

Find out more at or call 01473 823229.