It was a week of goodbyes, swiftly followed by hellos, as Hambledon’s “local”, the Merry Harriers, changed hands.
The village’s popular freehouse had been in the ownership of the de Savary family since 2017. Following the death of Peter de Savary last year his widow Lana decided to sell the pub if an appropriate buyer could be found.
That has now happened, and last week Sam Fiddian-Green and Alex Winch, the business partnership behind the acclaimed Hilltop Kitchen at nearby Munstead, took over the reins at the 16th Century pub.
The previous weekend (Nov 11th and 12th), regulars said goodbye to the de Savary era, and to parting chef Nick Ash, in fine style, with a crowded meat raffle on the Saturday afternoon and a final session on Sunday evening.
The pub reopened last Thursday when it was time to welcome Sam, Alex and their staff to Hambledon. Both are pictured below, Sam to the left of the photo.
Our other photographs (below) show customers on the final two days under the de Savary ownership, the first at meat raffle and the second on the last night, as pub manager Martine Mason and bar manager Louise Thomas prepare to offer half-price drinks, to cheers all round.
There are to be changes. The llama treks have ended and the food offering has been changed, to reflect chef Sam’s sustainable farm-to-fork cooking using local produce. Alex has said the bar area will remain a place where locals will feel welcome, and the range of real ales are much the same as before.
Hambledon Parish Council has invited them to attend one of its forthcoming meetings to outline what plans they may have for the future trading of the pub.