Pub of the Week: The Fleece in Bungay
11:45 25 July 2014
The Fleece, in Bungay, prides itself on being a community pub.
It serves food in its spacious restaurant, real ale at the bar and a range of clubs and societies use the upstairs function room for many meetings.
At the heart of the watering hole are managers Laurie and Bev King, who have spent the past 20 years living and breathing pub life, making their partnership one of the most enduring in the town.
The couple have made their presence at the pub, on St Mary’s Street, a real family affair with daughter Hannah working in the kitchen, and their two other children lending a hand over the years.
They arrived in Bungay more than 35 years ago to run one of the town’s newsagents, progressing to a second some years later.
A pub that is steeped in history dating back to before 1500
It was thought originally that The Fleece dated back to the 16th century but when building work took place in 2003 evidence was unearthed that it was built before 1500.
The pub began life as The Cross Keys, but by 1711 its name had changed to the present one.
A book about old Bungay in 1934 states that the Great Fire of Bungay in 1688 was checked at the passage into the pub yard.
Its important place in the community was felt by the Bungay Loyal and Constitutional Society who formed and held their meetings there to discuss the terrors of the French Revolution.
Until building work was carried out in 2003 a butchers shop and slaughter house were attached to the pub, which have now become the pool room.
The rings used to tie up the cattle are still there today in the car park.
It was while they were running these businesses that their interest in managing a pub arose.
Eventually they switched careers from newsagents to publicans.
Mr King said: “We spoke about running a pub several times but we had three young children so we decided not to go for it. But when The Fleece came up much later we decided it was the time. The owners thought that our local knowledge and business experience were in our favour.”
Owned by Adnams, The Fleece has three real ales on offer at a time and seasonal beers available.
A number of clubs use the pub’s function room including the Rotary Club for their weekly lunch meeting, the Bridge Club on Thursday night and the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.
The restaurant is franchised out to Kristan Jolly, who serves hearty British pub food, as well as daily specials and Sunday roasts in the dining room and snug,
There is also a room to play pool.
Mrs King tends to run the front of house duties, while her husband prefers to manage behind the scenes.
She said: “I do like the pub life, there’s just something about it. I like working behind the bar and I love the social side of it.
“There’s some real characters who come in here and many have become friends.
Mr King said: “We have had some lovely times here. We have a good mix of age groups, they are probably a little bit more mature than some years ago, but we have lots of people using the pub.
“I think they know they can come here and just relax. We have worked hard to keep it a nice place.”
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