A new era has begun at The Buxted Inn as Jason Bailey, whose family has run the pub for 34 years, has handed over the keys to a new owner, Nick Bolton.
You’ll still find familiar faces behind the bar and in the restaurant as the current staff team is staying in place.
Nick plans to get to know the pub, its customers, and the area before making any decisions about taking it on to the next stage.
His background is within the wine industry so he is hoping to use that area of expertise by organising regular wine tasting sessions. He also aims to continue serving good quality, freshly cooked, locally sourced, food at The Buxted Inn.
Jason, meanwhile, who spent six years refurbishing the inn after his parents Ted and Jackie retired, is looking forward to spending more time with his family and friends.
His father joined Jason at The Buxted Inn yesterday to meet Nick and be there for the handover.
When Ted and Jackie moved to the inn – which was a farmhouse at one time - it was very basic with a function room and six bedrooms. He was the chef while Jackie worked front of house.
Ted kept animals in the garden too, goats, chickens and geese including Donald – who used to chase the truancy officer when he called in to check up on Jason who should have been, but wasn’t, at school.
Ted has a fund of stories about the old days and one of his strongest memories is of the Great Storm of 1987 when villagers were trapped in Buxted for two days and workers came down from Northumberland to help clear fallen trees.
Some slept on nine mattresses on the floor of the function room while others were in the guest rooms.
There was no electricity but the inn did have gas to cook on and they carried on working under torchlight.
They managed to get the deep freeze to a power supply in a cobbler’s shop in Uckfield, and took food from it as needed until power was restored to the village.
Ted said he was amazed and impressed by all Jason had achieved in taking the inn apart and rebuilding it in recent years.
Jason moved chimneys and fireplaces, windows and doors to let in more light, make better use of space and to create the contemporary environment you can see today.
It is now an eight-bedroom hotel with two-bedroom apartment at the top of the building and en-suites with each bedroom.
Change was necessary, said Jason, because the days when his Mum and Dad had ten guys regularly drinking at the bar, some getting through a barrel of beer a week, had long gone.
He had worked for Whitbread in hotels for seven years and knew there was a market for contemporary Premier Inn-style accommodation. He also wanted to bring people from outside the village into the restaurant and that is what has been achieved.
He said: “I would like to thank our customers and past and present staff who have supported us over the years.”
New landlord Nick will be living at the inn with his partner Ariane, who is a French teacher working near Guildford.
He said he loved what Jason had done to the building and was really looking forward to taking the business on and moving it to the next level.
He has come from London where he has worked in the hospitality industry, mostly with wine, in restaurants, bars and hotels.
He has chosen The Buxted Inn having visited about 50 venues within 100 miles of London. He said it was far superior to anything else he had seen.
He told Uckfield News: “I plan to keep it as it is for the time-being, speak to locals to find out what they want and create a place with a great local vibe at the centre of the community and bringing in people from around East Sussex as well as Buxted and Uckfield.”