‘If no one comes, we’ll have to close again:’ Owners of historic coaching inn reopen
- Credit: Archant
A couple who took over a Norfolk coaching inn built in the reign of George III have reopened after coronavirus lockdown.
Catkin and Stephen Parker have opened the doors again at the Bedingfield Arms, built in 1783 to provide food, lodgings and stabling for visitors to the grand Oxburgh Hall, near King’s Lynn.
The Parkers, who took over the pub in 2012, after only viewing it for sale at night by torchlight, have used lockdown to redecorate the property, which has 10 guest bedrooms. They’ve also reopened their restaurant, which has space outside.
“We are in an intriguing situation,” said Mrs Parker. “I think a lot of people are feeling anxious and don’t want to get on a plane and are looking for a break closer to home to somewhere with atmosphere but space. Our staff have come back revving to go. If no one comes though, we’ll have to close again.”
Throughout lockdown, the Parkers – parents of Felix Favor Parker, who co-owns the famous Fairfax & Favor boot and shoe brand – have spent the time while closed to the public having all the sash windows repaired and repainting inside and out. They’ve also installed new technology so check-in and out can be done online. But they said they’re taking things slowly, currently opening for reduced days. But they say the reduction on VAT from the government has really helped. Mrs Parker said: “It would have been really helpful if the VAT reduction was on drinking too as this would help bring the drinks cost in line with supermarkets. However, it has helped us reduce prices on our menu. For example we are now doing our own home grown Aberdeen Angus ribeye and sirloin steaks at £16 rather than £19.” She said they would be taking bookings on meals offered at a discount under the chancellor’s new initiative, which comes into operation in August.
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“We are taking it one week at a time, if our bookings over-run on Wednesdays then we will consider opening Tuesdays. A close eye on business is needed, as ever. but we are confident about the future.”
The inn has five ‘coach’ rooms which have their own entrance, situated outside the main building, and five inside, the latest addition being the ‘French penthouse suite’ and some have four poster beds. New bed linen has been bought for all the rooms. Other plans includes Mrs Parker setting up guided tours of the nearby beautiful conservation area Foulden common. “This is in the early planning stage but probably linking to yummy picnics arranged by the chefs in our new state of the art kitchens, she added.
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History of the Bedingfield Arms
Built as the coaching inn for the 15th century Oxburgh Hall, the pub was completed in 1783 but was closed for a year before it was renovated and reopened by the Parkers. When they bought it, the pub was boarded up but they managed to transform the property in just three months.
The couple ran a bespoke fireplace design company After the Antique, which one of their three sons now runs. The couple have three sons; Felix, 29, who co-owns Fairfax & Favor, which has a shop in Holt. The other two sons are Ivo, 27 and Adam, 25.
The Bedingfield Arms is close to Oxburgh Hall which was completed in 1482 for Sir Edmund Bedingfeld and it remained in the family up until 1952 when it passed to the National Trust.