Country pub landlords mark 10th anniversary with huge family festival

Families are being invited to a new two-day festival to help the licensees celebrate a decade in charge of their popular village pub. Nick and Emma Woodhouse say the event, on June 29th and 30th, is their way of saying thank you to the community which has supported them since arriving at the Fleur de Lys, in Lowsonford 10 years ago this month.

'Fleur Fest' promises a host of entertainment and activities throughout the weekend, from live musicians and performers including stilt walkers and bubbleology - to craft and circus skills workshops, market and charity stalls and a dog show with prizes.

The event is also supporting Warwick charity Molly Ollys, and its founder Rachel Ollerenshaw will be on hand to raise awareness and sell raffle tickets across the two days. Emma said: "Fleur Fest is our way of saying thanks to friends and fans of the Fleur. Our anniversary is very much something that we wish to celebrate because so few small businesses make it to their 10-year anniversary. So many hospitality businesses, particularly after the last few years, are struggling. It's also a great excuse to have a bit of a party because it's been such a such a miserable few years for a variety of reasons."

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She added: "It's a celebration of all the things that this lovely pub offers. And Rachel from Molly Ollys is a beloved friends of so many of our locals so I wanted to support them too."

The couple, who moved to Warwickshire from Bristol for their new project, are dedicated to preserving the legacy and integrity of the inn, recognising its value as a part of local history. The Fleur De Lys, which translates to 'Flower of Life', began as three 15th-century cottages that were used as accommodation for canal workers before being merged.

The building has had various uses over the years, including a blacksmith's forge and even a mortuary, with bodies being taken to Rowington Church due to the lack of a village church at the time. It wasn't until the early 20th century that it first opened as a tavern, later introducing the 'pioneering' concept of serving food, giving birth to the now famous Fleur De Lys pies.

The inn was primarily visited by farmers who would come in for a pie and a pint after their day's work. The licensee at the time purchased Emscote Mill in Warwick, from where they distributed nationwide. However, the original pie recipe was eventually sold, becoming what is now known as Pukka Pies. Under Emma and Nick's stewardship, Lowsonford Pies was launched in 2018.

"People would travel from all over to have a pie served to them directly from the chef's hand through the kitchen hatch, something you obviously couldn't do today," Emma recalls.

"We've had customers who remember coming here for a pie before they even owned a car!"

The couple, who now also juggle running the business with parenting two young children, never forget the responsibility they inherited as this pub's latest custodians. For Emma, who hails from Birmingham, it has also meant a return 'home.' She said: "We'd decided to take on our first pub together when the Fleur came up for sale. I remembered it because my family used to bring us here when we were kids.

"I recall swinging on the willow trees over the canal. We knew immediately this place could be an absolute treasure chest.

"It's the perfect location and exactly what you think an Old English country pub should be like. It's so cosy with the log fires going in the winter and a beautiful canal-side garden to enjoy in the summer months.

"We're proud of what we've achieved in our time here so far, making the pub much more family-focused, but it's always a work in progress. Despite certain changes over the last 10 years, we have tried hard to keep honouring the character of the building.

"The biggest compliment for us is when people say, 'oh, I used to come here in the 50s for a pie through the kitchen hatch, and it's just the same as it was then, but a bit nicer!

'"If you think, how many people must have been in and out of this building over the years. - If these walls could talk!"

The hardworking husband and wife team hope the anniversary will be a good opportunity to meet newcomers to The Fleur while also ensuring locals and regulars have a great time.

Emma said: "The village was so supportive of us and that first night that we were here, they all came out in force to greet us and they bought us a card which I still treasure to this day. We know that we are simply custodians of this beautiful old boozer and never take that for granted."

Fleur Fest, curated by Leamington-based events company Dare Productions, runs between 12-8pm. Tickets are £15 for adults (plus booking fee) and £7 for children (plus booking fee).

Children under three go free. Free face painting is also included within the children's price. Tickets can be purchased here

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