A tale of two White Lions reborn in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 11:44 17 January 2014
You wait ages for one historic White Lion pub to reopen, then two arrive (almost) together.
In the pretty villages between Crewe and Alsager characterful inns are a must. Both Weston and Barthomley, however, were without theirs – both White Lions - for considerable periods recently.
When Weston’s White Lion closed for six weeks’ refurbishment last autumn the villagers weren’t alone in missing it: ‘We’re the only pub in the village so there’s a local feel to the place, but we have 17 bedrooms with a lot of regular business from people going up and down the M6, and we’re a destination pub for people from all over Cheshire,’ says co-owner Sam Norris.
‘It was a farmhouse originally, built in 1652,’ she continues: ‘The refurbishment retained the beams and low ceilings, stripped it back, and exposed an inglenook fireplace where we have a woodburner,’ a nice contrast with the modern annex that holds their rather funky restaurant.
As far as the Barthomley White Lion is concerned even 1652 is relatively modern, as 2014 is its 400th anniversary. Closure here was not planned: ‘We had a fire on April Fool’s Day,’ says landlady Laura Thomason: ‘The thatch caught fire, it could have been smouldering for days and we wouldn’t have known, and on that day the wind caught it.’
Recovery from the damage took 16 weeks. English Heritage were closely involved: ‘It couldn’t be rushed because it’s listed,’ says Laura: ‘It had to come back to how it was previously.’ She’s delighted the two open fires and woodburner, important to its atmosphere, have been approved again, and like its neighbouring namesake the pub is back catering for escapees from the M6.