Check In: Olde Bell Inn

Hurley, Berkshires, UK
07.27.2010 | by: Meghan

It’s easy to see why people make such a fuss about The Olde Bell Inn—all rush matting, pewter pitchers, colorful Welsh woolen blankets, local high-backed chairs handcrafted in nearby High Wycombe, and a flock of sheepskin throws tossed in every direction. With makeover by Ilse Crawford (the revered former editor of Elle Decor known for bringing modern design to the English masses), the Olde Belle is the oldest functioning inn in England. Paint peels, stairs creak, rooms slant. And for it, there’s a tangible sense of place at Ye Olde Bell, as the sign reads out front next to the namesake iron bell. Crawford honors the long storied history dating back to 1135, instead of trying to re-create a new interior all glossy and pristine.

Old photos and postcards tell the stories. An ancient passageway through the fireplace runs from the pub to the old priory down the street. Monks used to welcome visitors in the bar when they heard the bell clanging; Elizabeth Taylor was a regular; Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower stayed here prior to the Normandy Invasion. The place has seen lifetimes of political upheavals, generational turnovers, natural disasters. Once, the present owner, who invested all his savings in wine, woke up to a flood and all his wine bottles floating in the street.

But the Olde Bell is not some kind of touristy living museum, preserved for show. When I stayed there (while writing a travel story for Interiors), I was blown away by the intimate level of service and impeccable local food effort. Hailing from famous farm-to-table London restaurant St. John’s, innkeeper Neil Irving, who pulls off red suspenders without a hint of irony, sums it up perfectly. “It’s been here for almost 1,000 years. We’re insignificant, just here as caretakers. The building is the character… Some people are annoyed because there’s no minibar in the room, but we want to interact with people. It’s not about pushing people into a room and forgetting about them because we have their credit card.”

We ate local English comfort food: Wood pigeon! Salt lamb shank!  Pheasant pie! Jam and bread! Raised beds in the brick-walled garden feed the kitchen with rosemary, thyme, oregano, arugula, strawberries, artichokes and tomatoes, while colorful jars of preserves and pickled vegetables decorate windowsills. We spent afternoons in the pub, planted in front of the picture-book roaring fireplace with a pint—or glass of cider from a nearby mill.

We took long walks along the Thames, which we could see from our second-story room with a peaked-roof and long view of the moor. There was even a freestanding soaking tub, from which, yes, I did, in fact, read a few chapters of the complimentary Pride and Prejudice.


22 Comments on “Check In: Olde Bell Inn”

  1. good articles


  2. […] Above: Ilse Crawford of Studioilse designed the dining room at the Olde Bell Inn, which features black-painted ceiling beams, chairs, and doorways. Photographs of the Olde Bell Inn via Design Tripper. […]


  3. […] Above: Ilse Crawford of Studioilse designed the dining room at the Olde Bell Inn, which features black-painted ceiling beams, chairs, and doorways. Photographs of the Olde Bell Inn via Design Tripper. […]


  4. Dead pent articles, Really enjoyed studying.


  5. Great web site. A lot of helpful info here. I’m sending it to some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your sweat!


  6. I wanted to construct a brief comment so as to say thanks to you for all of the unique guides you are giving out on this site. My extensive internet investigation has now been recognized with useful points to share with my family. I would assert that many of us site visitors actually are undoubtedly endowed to exist in a decent community with very many brilliant professionals with beneficial pointers. I feel extremely blessed to have come across your entire web page and look forward to so many more pleasurable moments reading here. Thanks a lot once more for everything.


  7. I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


  8. I conceive you have noted some very interesting details , thankyou for the post.


  9. Some genuinely superb posts on this web site, appreciate it for contribution. “When he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the One – the inner sound which kills the outer.” by H Hahn Blavatsky.


  10. I happen to be writing to let you understand of the great encounter my wife’s daughter obtained studying the blog. She even learned several issues, including what it’s like to possess a very effective helping nature to have other folks smoothly understand several tortuous things. You really did more than our own expected results. I appreciate you for presenting such beneficial, healthy, revealing and also cool guidance on the topic to Julie.


  11. My spouse and i have been quite satisfied that Peter could finish up his studies from the ideas he got in your web site. It’s not at all simplistic just to continually be giving freely tips that others have been making money from. So we fully grasp we need the writer to be grateful to because of that. All of the illustrations you made, the simple site menu, the friendships you make it easier to instill – it is everything wonderful, and it is letting our son in addition to the family understand that issue is enjoyable, which is extraordinarily pressing. Thanks for all!


  12. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!


  13. you’re actually a excellent webmaster. The web site loading pace is incredible. It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you’ve performed a excellent activity on this matter!


  14. Dead pent subject matter, thankyou for entropy.


  15. F*ckin’ awesome issues here. I am very happy to peer your post. Thank you so much and i’m looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?


  16. Some really nice and utilitarian info on this site, as well I think the layout has good features.


  17. You are my breathing in, I have few blogs and sometimes run out from to brand.


  18. I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thank you, I will try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?


  19. Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff, thanks . “While thou livest keep a good tongue in thy head.” by William Shakespeare.


  20. Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw great style .


  21. I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thx again!


  22. Extremely Amazing work!!


Leave a Comment