The Bildeston Crown Pub with rooms in Bildeston, Suffolk

Prices from:
£80 per night

David Hancock says:

  • Timbered 15th-century gem
  • Contemporary meets traditional
  • Innovative modern British cooking
  • Passion for cooking local game
  • Elegant, individually styled rooms
  • Courtyard for summer sipping

Sticky FingersMuddy PawsGood for WalkingOutdoor PursuitsCandlelitVisit a Stately PilePrivate Dining

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Overview

The Bildeston Crown Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7EP

The personal touch

Seven hundred years on from its construction, the current custodians at the Crown are attracting more than their fair share of the county’s gastronomic plaudits – it’s a breath of fresh air for this wonderful old coaching inn set. The timber-framed village setting and the simplicity of its beamed ochre painted exterior belie the swish transformation into a luxurious bolthole. Oozing history at every twist and turn, the charming building revels in opulence and warmth, no expense having been spared in complementing the original period features with layers of modern trappings giving a rich sophistication, including bespoke hand-decorated walls by Adam Caulkin. Husband and wife team Chris and Hayley Lee run the Crown with passion and panache with the help of a friendly, dedicated team. Add Chris’s innovative modern British cooking and elegant, individually decorated rooms that ooze style and comfort and you have a cracking rural inn for a relaxing foodie break away. Bildeston is set in glorious rolling Suffolk countryside close to Lavenham and Long Melford and within easy reach of the Dedham Vale and Constable Country, and Bury St Edmunds is just a short drive away.

Sticky fingers

Families are very welcome; flexible approach towards food for children with smaller portions offered; z-beds and cots are available (£10 per night).

Muddy paws

Dogs are allowed in the bar and in all the rooms (£10 per dog per night).

Alfresco

There’s a delightful sheltered courtyard with teak tables and chairs, posh brollies and olive trees in planters – perfect for summer drinking and dining.

What’s the Damage?
14 doubles/twin: £80-£180

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining & weddings
  • Disabled access to bar & dining areas
  • Parking

Gongs
AA 3 Star (Hotel) & 2 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide

Sleep

The Bildeston Crown Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7EP

Do not disturb

Befitting its 15th-century origins, the bedrooms upstairs come in all shapes and sizes, the designers having been allowed to run wild with tactile textures, chic fabrics and bold colour schemes, all blending in with the beams, timbers and period charm of the building. Seemingly every conceivable opportunity has been taken to indulge and spoil guests – think deep pile carpets, big brass or wooden French-style beds, upholstered chairs, huge mirrors, fluffy cushions, sumptuous drapes, and bathrobes and Green & Spring bathroom products in the smart tiled bathrooms; a few have deep tubs and huge walk-in rain showers. If you like to sleep in a grand four-poster bed, then book Room 1, a quiet, elegant and luxurious room in hues of gold and rose pink, with triple-aspect windows, an antique four-poster bed and dark wood furnishings. A hearty breakfast sets you up for a good browse around the nearby landmarks of Lavenham and Kersey, full of quintessential Suffolk charm and quaint teashops for a civilised stop-off mid afternoon.

 

What’s the Damage?
14 doubles/twin: £80-£180

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining & weddings
  • Disabled access to bar & dining areas
  • Parking

Gongs
AA 3 Star (Hotel) & 2 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide

Eat & Drink

The Bildeston Crown Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7EP

Mastering the menu

Chef/patron Chris Lee is cooking at the top of his game. He is virtually self-taught, but for the past decade or so at the Crown he has gained the respect from food critics and his peers, as well as wowing the guests that beat a path to the inn’s door for his innovative modern British cooking. His free wheeling culinary exuberance is as exciting as the sheer quality of his cooking (made doubly enjoyable by excellent value-for-money). Once known as a fine dining destination, Chris now offers an eclectic range of dishes on a variety of crowd-pleasing menus to draw people out to the country for lunch or dinner at the Crown. If you want a seven-course tasting menu and wine flight (£80 & £110) at dinner, then this can be arranged for the whole table. You can pop in for a pint and a retro nibble (sausage roll and Oxford sauce), a fish finger sandwich or a lobster Caesar and bacon wrap, or you can tuck into a pub classic with a twist, perhaps Red Poll cheeseburger with foie gras, truffle mayonnaise and fries. The set lunch menu is a steal (2 courses £15; 3 courses £20). Look to the ‘Select’ menu to experience Chris’s culinary skill and flair – caramelised pork belly with scallop and pear; roast halibut with confit cheek brandade, white beans and parsley; mango carpaccio with coconut parfait and tropical fruit. Expect top-notch local ingredients, notably game from surrounding estates (Chris loves to cook pigeon, duck, pheasant, partridge, hare…) and fish from Aldeburgh and Orford. Behind the bar you’ll find local Adnams beers and Aspall’s cider, and a cracking list of wines (15 by the glass).

Time to eat

Breakfast: 8am – 10am
Lunch: 12 noon – 3pm
Dinner: 7pm – 9pm

Time at the bar

11am – 11pm (10.30pm Sunday)

What’s the Damage?
14 doubles/twin: £80-£180

What Else?

  • All credit cards taken
  • Alfresco dining
  • Private dining & weddings
  • Disabled access to bar & dining areas
  • Parking

Gongs
AA 3 Star (Hotel) & 2 Rosettes; Waitrose Good Food Guide

Food Trail

Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.

Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – gabrielle@innplaces.co.uk.

1 Inn Location - The Bildeston Crown

2

Mill Green Brewery, Edwardstone, Sudbury CO10 5PX

Very green craft brewery using local malt, their own hops and borehole water. Visit their brewery tap on-site, the White Horse in Edwardstone, for their award-winning beers from the barrel, live music, traditional games and regular beer festivals. They also have The Fleece in Boxford.

3

The Ram, 5 Market Place, Hadleigh IP7 5DL

A stylish pub-restaurant set in a beautifully revitalised old building in the heart of town. Expect a serious ambition in quite complex dishes but gaining a following.

4

Little Greys Farm Eggs, Grays Hall Corner, Little Cornard CO10 0PF

All sorts of eggs available from the farm gate – not just hens but also goose and duck.

6

Willow Farm, Potash Lane, Polstead Heath CO6 5DL

It’s worth stopping at Willow Farm’s roadside stall for orchard and stone fruit such as apples, plums and pears, or you can ‘pick you own’ seasonal fruits on the farm.

7

Lower Dairy Farm Shop, Water Lane, Nayland CO6 4JS

The Taylor's farm shop for own reared, well-hung, grass-fed Hereford-Angus beef and proper free-range pork as well as family-made preserves, eggs from their flock and home-grown apples, not forgetting their own horseradish.

8

Mersea Island Cookery School, East Mersea CO5 8SX

Situated on Mersea Island, ten miles from Colchester, the Cookery School offers interactive hands-on cooking classes with top chefs from popular restaurants. Local produce and lots of seafood are used.

10

Wheldon's Fruit Farm, Newton Leys, Sudbury CO10 0QE

Growing PYO since the Seventies, now three generations of Wheldons now work the land. Wide range of orchard and stone fruits, berries, vegetables, and you can also buy regional cheeses and locally sourced meats from the farm store.

Out & About

1 Inn Location - The Bildeston Crown

Activities

2

Assington Mill Courses, Assington CO10 5LZ

Fabulous rural crafts tuition centre in an old watermill with over 50 different subjects being tutored in. Learn about growing your own or harvesting wild foods. Lovely home-made lunches part of the appeal.

3

Mersea Island Cookery School, East Mersea CO5 8SX

Run by Amanda Woodcraft, this charming cookery school sits on the same Mersea Island location as Ben's Fish. Not only do you see the fish coming in from the day boats, you get to use them. Amanda attracts tops London chefs such as Chris Gillard (Head Chef of St John's Restaurant).

5

Push Kiting at Clacton CO15 1NG

At Clacton, down on the breezy Essex coast, you can try your hand at kite boarding, kite buggying and push kiting. It doesn't matter whether you are aged eight or eighty, there are instructors on hand to help you get the most out of your day at the seaside.

6

Great Classic Car Hire, Stowmarket IP14 1EZ

Based near Stowmarket, this is the place to seek an exhilarating alternative means of discovering the extensive countryside of East Anglia. The fleet of vehicles covers British, European and Far Eastern classic cars - a classy, ideal way to explore Suffolk on a perfect summer's day.

Shopping

17

Kersey Pottery, Kersey IP7 6DY

Located in a picturesque valley setting in Kersey, near Ipswich, Kersey Pottery has a comprehensive collection of handmade tableware, individually decorated bowls and plates and stoneware with distinctive glazes.

19

Ipswich IP4 1FH

Shopping in East Anglia's historic waterfront town offers a multiple choice of global brands, independent retailers and small shops. Queen Street is the place to make for to hunt out something a bit different.

21

Jim Lawrence, The Ironworks, Lady Lane, Hadleigh IP7 6BQ

Fallen in love with the light fittings, door handles and curtains rails in your room at the Crown, then buy them online or visit Jim Lawrence's treasure trove of a showroom and buy them for your own house; home and soft furnishings too.

Places to visit

7

The Beth Chatto Gardens, Colchester CO7 7DB

Located at Elmstead Market near Colchester, the Beth Chatto Gardens are a perfect example of how an overgrown wasteland can be transformed into a horticultural work of art that is an inspiration to all who visit. There is also a welcome tearoom within the site.

8

Melford Hall, Long Melford CO10 9AA

Devastated by fire in 1942, this Tudor mansion at Long Melford was later restored by the Hyde Parker family in whose possession it remains to this day. Their cousin, Beatrix Potter, was a regular visitor here.

9

Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge IP12 3DJ

It's a name that crops up from time to time in history documentaries and travel programmes, but there's nothing to beat actually visiting these atmospheric ancient burial mounds near Woodbridge. Sutton Hoo is where the 7th-century Anglo-Saxon Kings of East Anglia lay buried and undiscovered until they were unearthed in 1938.

10

Ickworth, Bury St Edmunds IP29 5QE

Close to Bury St Edmounds, Ickworth's spectacular Rotunda was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless artefacts collected on tours around Europe in the 18th century. The Italianate garden includes box hedges and Mediterranean planting.

11

Gainsborough House, Sudbury CO10 2EU

This fascinating museum and art gallery stands in the centre of the market town of Sudbury and is probably most famous as the birthplace of the artist Thomas Gainsborough. Dating back to 1520, the house has many striking features as well as various Ginsborough paintings and portraits.

12

Lindsey St.James's Chapel, Hadleigh IP7 6QA

One of the region’s secret gems, this chapel near Hadleigh is just the place for history detectives. The 13th-century place of worship boasts early medieval architecture and flint walls under a thatched roof.

13

Flatford Mill, East Bergholt CO7 6UL

At Flatford you can stand in the very same spot that Constable stood and spot the same view he did. Study the scenes that inspired him and found expression in his paintings and visit the small exhibition that provides an insight into the man and his talent.

14

Bourne Mill, Colchester CO2 8RT

A mile to the south of Colchester, Bourne Mill is a Grade I listed building, originally constructed as a fishing lodge and used for banquets and social functions. Expect a working waterwheel, millpond, and woodland that is home to a great variety of wildlife.

15

Lavenham Guildhall CO10 9QZ

With its ancient timbers and crooked lines, Lavenham Guildhall is one of many notable buildings in this picturesque medieval village. Inside, you’ll find a museum devoted to the history of Lavenham, with fascinating displays depicting 500 years of farming and industry.

16

Moyse's Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1DX

Overlooking the market place in Bury St Edmunds, this ancient 12th-century building has been a jail, a workhouse and a police station over the years. In its role as a museum, Moyse’s Hall examines the town’s early history and provides a fascinating insight into superstition and witchcraft

Walking

www.discoversuffolk.org.uk
www.walkinginsuffolk.co.uk
www.visitessex.com
The only way to really appreciate unspoiled Suffolk and Essex is on foot. Constable Country is one of the best areas for exploring and against this vast patchwork of fields and hedgerows, you can imagine the artist John Constable out and about on foot in search of inspiration. Walk from East Bergholt to Flatford Mill or stroll the pretty water meadows at Sudbury. The Essex coast is a must if you enjoy big skies and sea breezes. North of Harwich the Suffolk Coast Path runs for 50 miles between Felixstowe and Lowestoft and takes in a variety of sea wall stretches, marsh, heath and foreshore.

Cycling

www.cycle-route.com
www.visitessex.com

www.discoversuffolk.co.uk

There’s a great choice of cycle routes and cycling opportunities within the county of Suffolk and further afield. Explore Lavenham’s woodlands and valleys on a 21-mile trail or embark on the 28-mile Jockey’s Trail in Newmarket. If you enjoyed the much-loved television drama Lovejoy in the 1980s and 90s, you might like to link the many locations used in the series by following a network of very pleasant off-road cycle routes and quiet country lanes.

Getting there

Location, Location, Location

By Road: Bildeston is located at the junction of the B1115 (Stowmarket and Hadleigh) and the B1078 (Needham Market and Sudbury)

By Rail: Nearest railway station is Ipswich, 14.3 miles away – 30-minute taxi ride

Address:

104 High Street, Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7EP

Make booking enquiry

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