Published on June 5, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour


Open for business

In aviation parlance, St Mary’s Inn in Stannington, Northumberland, has been in holding pattern for the past 12 months. The hugely popular pub with rooms and restaurant put up its shutters in May 2017 in response to an adjacent housing development failing to progress as originally anticipated.

Happily, the situation has been resolved and St Mary’s Inn is once again fully operational. The 11-bedroomed pub, set in the former administration centre of the now-demolished Stannington Hospital, is looking hale and handsome in the late spring sunshine. New general manager Robin Freer – a man with more experience of serving cask and craft keg beer than most in the region – leads a new team that includes head chef Chris Cheek, another highly experienced professional.

“We’ve commissioned Rigg & Furrow Brewery from Acklington to produce our exclusive St Mary’s Ale,” says Robin. “It’s a traditional English bitter using Challenger and Bramling Cross hops; a 3.8% beer that creates a nice balance of flavours between sweet and bitter.

“We also have Anarchy Brew Co Citra Star and Smoke Bomb on handpull from literally jut up the road, as well as Exile Gluten-Free Ale and Maltsmith’s IPA on keg.”

For his part, Chris Cheek promises good, well prepared pub food – “what people want and what people like”. So, if you fancy a fish-finger sandwich with your pint, you’re perfectly at home.

The renowned wire dog sculptures by Gary Tiplady have come out of semi-retirement, as have framed cartoons by former Times cartoonist David Haldane who lives locally, and proggy mats woven by a local craftswoman. Original Norman Cornish paintings and drawings always create a talking point.

Live music in the lounge areas off the main bar creates a real pub atmosphere, while beer festivals could be in the plan for the outside grassed area. Surrounded by mature trees and shrubbery, it’s definitely a country setting ripe for neighbouring families and visiting business people ready to unwind and as a base for tourists eager to explore Northumberland’s countryside and coast.

“But at the end of the day, St Mary’s is a pub,” says Robin Freer. “A pub with bedrooms catering for everybody – child friendly and dog friendly, in an amazing location.”
In aviation parlance, this is going to fly.

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Alastair Gilmour

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