The Fleur de Lys

Families are being encouraged to support a new two-day festival to help the licensees celebrate a decade in charge of their popular village pub.

Nick and Emma Woodhouse say the event, on June 29th and 30th, is their way of saying thank you to the community which has supported them since arriving at the Fleur de Lys, in Lowsonford, 10 years ago this month.

But, while ‘Fleur Fest’ promises a host of entertainment and activities, Emma says it also acts as a reminder of the importance of supporting pubs in local communities.

“I think it’s really important to cherish pubs like ours so that they remain pubs in the future. With so many change of use deals, it’s incredibly easy for a beautiful old pub to be turned into a supermarket or a block of flats these days, so I really want FleurFest to showcase how great these venues are at what they’re meant to do. It would be a travesty to turn round one day and discover that the Fleur De Lys has been turned into a Tesco Metro!

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“I have a background working in the heritage sector so this historical pub is very close to my heart anyway, but from a societal and economical standpoint I also think it’s crucial that we keep pubs like ours alive and, hopefully, through events like FleurFest, help them to thrive once again.”

The weekend will feature live musicians and performers – from stilt walkers and bubbleology – to craft and circus skills workshops, market and charity stalls and a dog show with prizes! The event is also supporting Warwickshire children’s charity Molly Ollys.

Emma said: “Fleur Fest is our way of saying thanks to friends and fans of the Fleur. Our anniversary is very much something that we wish to celebrate because so few small businesses make it to their 10-year anniversary. So many hospitality businesses, particularly after the last few years, are struggling.

“In the current climate obviously things have changed and costs have gone up and in some cases even doubled.

“But it’s important to remember you’re also supporting all the people we work with who make up the ecosystem of the pub – the grocers, the butchers, the cleaners etc.”

The couple, who moved to Warwickshire from Bristol for their new project, are passionate about hospitality and have a combined 30 years of experience in the industry. They work hard to protect the legacy and integrity of the inn, which they recognise as a valued part of local history.

The Fleur De Lys – which translates as Flower of Life – started out as a row of three 15th-century cottages which became canal workers’ accommodation and were later knocked together. Subsequent uses included a blacksmith’s forge and even a mortuary, from where the bodies were taken to Rowington Church in the absence of a village church at the time.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century when it first opened as a tavern, later going on to introduce the ‘pioneering’ idea of serving food and giving rise to the now famous Fleur De Lys pies.

The couple, who now also juggle running the business with parenting two young children, never forget the responsibility they inherited as this pub’s latest custodians. For Emma, who hails from Birmingham, it has also meant a return ‘home.’

“We’d decided to take on our first pub together when the Fleur came up for sale. I remembered it because my family used to bring us here when we were kids. I recall swinging on the willow trees over the canal.

“We knew immediately this place could be an absolute treasure chest. It’s the perfect location and exactly what you think an Old English country pub should be like.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved in our time here so far, making the pub much more family-focused, but it’s always a work in progress.”

The hardworking husband and wife team hope the anniversary will be a good opportunity to meet newcomers to The Fleur while also ensuring locals and regulars are a big part of their celebrations.

“The village was so supportive of us and that first night that we were here, they all came out in force to greet us and they bought us a card which I still treasure to this day. We know that we are simply custodians of this beautiful old boozer and never take that for granted.”

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