Pub of the week: The Hunny Bell’s new owner has gone from managing a rugby team to running a bar

Penny Chapman, owner of The Hunny Bell pub in Hunworth - Pub of the week.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Penny Chapman, owner of The Hunny Bell pub in Hunworth - Pub of the week.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

She's gone from running a rugby team to running a bar, but the Hunny Bell's new owner Penny Chapman insists the skills are much the same.

Penny Chapman, owner of The Hunny Bell pub in Hunworth - Pub of the week.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Penny Chapman, owner of The Hunny Bell pub in Hunworth - Pub of the week.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

The 47-year-old former sports coach and her husband Sean, 45, took on the rural business last June, after six years at the helm of Holt Rugby Club, where she saw the team through three promotions.

Mrs Chapman said the Hunworth pub, in north Norfolk near Holt, was already doing well when they took it on, but the couple made some minor tweaks, including a fresh menu.

'We didn't want to make too many changes, there were a lot of great things about the pub,' she added. 'We wanted to put our own stamp on it but not fix something that wasn't broken.'

The 18th century pub is popular with the farming and rugby crowd and, as promised by Mrs Chapman, serves all local produce when possible.


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The business was formerly owned by chain Animal Inns, but Mrs Chapman and her husband were keen to be hands on, and are at the pub daily as owner managers.

Despite the career change, the mum of three said running a successful pub was much the same as looking after a rugby team. 'It is all about people skills,' she added.

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'Rugby was about managing 15 men and I see this as exactly the same. It is all about being part of a team, and getting the best out of people.'

The Hunny Bell has a cosy bar, spacious restaurant area and a separate annexe which features occasional live music.

Young head chef Terry Balme cooks from two menus, the Hunny Bell favourites and a new, seasonal selection which changes with the seasons.

Mrs Chapman said: 'For us it is all about quality rather than quantity. It is a really lovely pub atmosphere and great food.'

And the dog-friendly pub has had some famous visitors, including Prince Harry, when he popped in while working with charity Walking With The Wounded based in nearby Stody.

The pub has a spacious garden, and parking area.

It is open from Monday to Thursday noon to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11.30pm, and Sunday noon to 11pm.

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