Pub of the week: Family village pub which has strong connection to the past
13:30 04 April 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
He has worked at London’s Tate Gallery, the Norwich Castle Museum and owned his own sandwich shop in Norwich.
But after buying the Spread Eagle on Eagle Road, Erpingham, in December 2010 owner and landlord Paul Wayling, 44, has not looked back.
Mr Wayling and his wife Joanne, 35, a former Norfolk County Council worker, spent £150,000 renovating the historic pub before reopening it as the Erpingham Arms in August 2011.
He said: “I had grown tired of my sandwich shop on Dereham Road, we had two young children and I wanted to do something a bit different and more challenging. We wanted to get out of the city and this seemed like the way forward.”
When the couple bought the building, which dates back to 1717 in parts, the pub had been empty for about a year.
Pub outbuildings were base for a traditional real ale brewery
Originally built as a cottage surrounded by two acres of land in 1717, the building which is now the Erpingham Arms is thought to have been licensed from 1760.
It was originally owned by John Boyer and in 1910 was known as the Eagle Inn.
The name changed to the Spread Eagle and the pub used to have a bowling green from 1824, which no longer exists.
One of the outbuildings buildings, which no longer belongs to the pub, was used by Woodforde’s brewery between 1983-1989.
The Norfolk real ale company started in 1981 and kickstarted the microbrewery industry in the county and moved to Woodbastwick in 1989.
It was established by Ray Ashworth and Dr David
Crease, both members of the Norwich Homebrewers’ Society, and named after Parson Woodforde.
Before Mr and Mrs Wayling bought the building it is thought to have changed hands about 16 times.
Mr Wayling worked “around the clock” to refurbish the family-friendly pub which serves local food to villagers as well as holidaymakers.
“The work was very tough and owning a pub is not an easy career. I was under to illusions about how hard it was going to be.
“The village was keen to get their pub back because it had become an eyesore.
“I wanted to maintain the pub element where people could pop in for a couple of pints and not feel pressurised to buy food,” he added.
Incorporated in the pub’s sign is the coat of arms which belonged to Sir Thomas Erpingham who played a crucial role in the Battle of Agincourt – an English victory against the French in the Hundred Years’ War on October 25 1415.
Real ales are important to the pub and the bar sells five different ales, brewed in East Anglia. The beers are changed on a regular basis.
He added: “The ale is the driving force of the business and the customers are pretty discerning.”
Barns which used to belong to the Spread Eagle were home to Woodforde’s brewery between 1983-1989 when the Woodbastwick firm was starting out.
Mr Wayling said the business was going in the right direction and hopes to open six bed and breakfast rooms above the pub and put on specialised food nights.