Here’s to the Sweffling White Horse – Suffolk village pub named East Anglia’s best

Sweffling White Horse pub of the year CAMRA presentation night. Photo: Andy Greeacre.

Sweffling White Horse pub of the year CAMRA presentation night. Photo: Andy Greeacre. - Credit: Andy Greeacre

A few years ago it was in danger of becoming a statistic of Britain’s ailing local pub trade.

Having already been named Suffolk's Rural Pub of the Year and Pub of the Year, the Sweffling White H

Having already been named Suffolk's Rural Pub of the Year and Pub of the Year, the Sweffling White Horse has now been named in the 16 regional finalists of CAMRAs national Pub of the Year competition. Proprietors Marie Smith and Mark Sealey. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

But since reopening at the end of 2011, the Sweffling White Horse has served up one success story after another.

Having already won the county’s top pub title for 2015, owners Mark Sealey and Marie Smith are raising a glass to being named best in the region.

Midway between Framlingham and Saxmundham, the White Horse was closed for eight years until the pair viewed the property while hunting for a large plot to set up a campsite.

They bought the run down building and spent three years on its transformation – since when, they have served more than 300 locally brewed real ales, winning approval from the Ipswich and East Suffolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), first with the area’s Rural Pub of the Year title, and then Suffolk’s overall Pub of the Year crown.

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The White Horse is now among 16 regional finalists for CAMRA’s national Pub of the Year competition.

“We just wanted to run the kind of pub we’d like to visit ourselves,” said Marie. “We’re very lucky to have a very lovely, friendly bunch of locals.

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“Round here we seem to be in a bit of a bubble. The White Horse at Rendham is doing well and the Glemham Crown is doing a roaring trade since reopening.”

Behind the White Horse sits Alde Garden – an environmentally friendly campsite, open from May to October, with yurts, a tipi, gypsy caravan and bell tent.

Taking up the old beer garden, it provides enough income for the White Horse to remain a proper drinking pub – although a small menu includes a cheese ploughman’s, toasties and hot sausage rolls in the summer, locally made pies which heated in a wood-fired range in the winter.

“The campsite paid for the pub renovation,” said Marie. “It keeps the pub alive.

“We’ve always put quality over quantity. We buy really good products and sell them at normal pub prices.”

The pub is open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings, and Sunday lunchtimes. It also hosts regular live music and events.

Good Beer Guide 2016

CAMRA yesterday announced that the number of breweries in the UK had increased by more than 10% for the third consecutive year.

The statistics, released to mark the launch of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2016, showed that 204 new breweries have opened in the past 12 month, taking the total to 1,424 – the highest since the 1930s and 40s.

It also said more breweries than ever were taking action to support the environment, including Adnams, in Southwold, where pent grain and hops go to local farms and rain water is used for washing equipment and delivery vehicles, and at the Mill Green Brewery, Edwardstone, with its solar panel water heaters, wood-fired boiler and wind turbine.

The Good Beer Guide features two new breweries and 15 new pub entries for Suffolk. It also gives details of the various beers brewed in the region, including Station 119, in Eye.

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