National award for village restaurant

A HOTEL and restaurant from Suffolk has won a top national award from the VisitEngland tourist board for the quality of its food offer.

The Bildeston Crown, in the village of Bildeston between Stowmarket and Hadleigh, was named winner of the “Taste of England” category at the Enjoy England Awards, held last night in Brighton to coincide with St George’s Day.

The Crown, owned by local landowner and farmer James Buckle and run by head chef Chris Lee, qualified for the national competition by winning the regional round of the Enjoy England Awards, organised by East of England Tourism and held at the West Wing, Ickworth, near Bury St Edmunds, last autumn.

It was then shortlisted as a national finalist, together with two other regional winners, Green’s Restaurant at Whitby, in North Yorkshire, and Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop at Kendal, Cumbria, before being named as the winner last night.

Mr Buckle, from Semer, bought the Crown six years ago, with a “field for fork” vision for it to serve locally raised and grown food.

It now has three AA rosettes, with the food offer including Red Poll beef and Suffolk lamb from Mr Buckle’s own farm.

Last night’s success means that the Crown has gone one better than last year when it was runner-up for VisitEngland’s national Hotel of the Year award – behind winner Gidleigh Park, in Devon – having qualified by first winning the Best Small Hotel title in the Tourism in Suffolk Awards, organised by Archant Suffolk, publisher of the EADT, and then winning the same category in East of England Tourism’s regional awards.

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Last night’s ceremony saw the National Trust awarded VisitEngland’s Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award for its “unswerving role as the bastion of beautiful and outstanding attractions”.

Other winners included Blackpool Illuminations, which was voted the top tourism event, and Livingstone Lodge Overnight Safari near Hythe in Kent which took the best tourism experience award.