The Greenman in Fownhope, Herefordshire, is ideally located for sport in the county and offers guests a blend of ancient and modern surroundings.
You are going to want to stay at The Greenman if you’re shooting at Stoke Edith. Shoot captain Mark Coleman will probably suggest it if you book a day with him anyway. He and innkeeper Sean Mason go back a long way, so why not? Friendships aside, if you value personal recommendations, or simply prefer to stretch that last bottle of claret out into the wee small hours, you’ll be thankful for the relatively short distance between your bed and Mr Coleman’s sporting acres. There’s more to this inn than convenience, though.
The Masons arrived at The Greenman in 2010 and have been busy putting their stamp on the 16-room inn ever since. There are 11 rooms at The Greenman itself with a further five individual rooms in the cottage out the back. The inn has been refurbished to a high standard without affecting its historic character – the splendour of the renovated cottage, which offers guests a little more privacy, must be seen in the flesh to be appreciated.
Many of The Greenman’s original features have remained unblemished by time and fashion, and their continuing value was not lost on Sean’s wife Sarah when she oversaw the refurbishment. Her stylish eye has married old with new seamlessly; wooden beamed ceilings, stairwells and fireplaces have been carefully restored to sit comfortably amongst fresh modern furnishings, avoiding the risk of being confused with “effect” decorations that vandalise too many inns of a similar age.
Fownhope, seven miles to the south-east of Hereford, is a tranquil village but its isolation and proximity to the city made it both a convenient location for troop convalescence and an easy target for attack during the English Civil War, a fact not lost on the 14,000 Scots who plundered the village in 1645 while in retreat from Royalist forces.
The Greenman, once known as The Naked Boy, has served a number of different uses during its lifetime, including that of a petty sessional court, magistrates court and even an auction rooms. Sharp-eyed visitors will spot various subtle nods to its former tenants and notable Fownhope residents – the bar, for example, is named after bare-knuckle boxing champion Tom Spring.
While the Masons prefer to let their rooms, food, drink and service do the talking, their statement of intent is fittingly spelled out on one of The Greenman’s old signs: “You travel far, you travel near, it’s here you find the best of beer. You pass to the East, you pass to the West, if you pass this by you pass the Best”.
A confident claim, but one worth putting to the test if you’re shooting in Herefordshire next season. You won’t be the first, shotgun or no shotgun.
Cost: From £70 (group rates available)
Contact: thegreenman.co (sic) or call 01432 860243
Scores for The Greenman, Fownhope
Catering: Food is (as often as possible) locally sourced and all rather lovely. The wine list is impressive but certain pages could leave your wallet a little light. Ale connoisseurs should have a drop of Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery: 8/10
Accommodation: The 16 rooms are individually-styled with careful consideration to the original dimensions, meaning the luxuriant furnishings aren’t shoehorned in: 8/10
Atmosphere: It was a little quiet during our mid-week visit but subsequent research has found the inn to be a popular haunt for locals and visiting sportsmen: 7/10
Service: Young, enthusiastic and anything but robotic. Our table wasn’t the only one to remark on how prompt the staff were throughout dinner: 8/10
Suitability for shooters: The only stones in The Greenman’s near-spotless shoes are that there are no gun cabinets or kennels on-site. While this isn’t the end of the world, it could present a dilemma you’d rather not have to solve: 6/10