Welcome to The Pilgrims Restaurant site, in which we will try to give you a glimpse of what awaits whether you come to dine with us or to stay awhile. So, are you sitting comfortably? Let me tell you a very short story.
Under the wide open Somerset skies, surrounded by fields, lies the hamlet of Lovington. Originally an old stone pub The Pilgrims is now an award-winning Restaurant with Rooms*. With a passion for the local produce which inspires a menu of unique dishes – and an attention to detail which, should you choose, guarantees a memorable stay. And since The Pilgrims was a pub for most of its many years, we have a bar and a log fire to relax around with an aperitif or after dinner.
We have space to spare but we run a small operation with a very small team. Sally runs the place with a relaxed efficiency that ensures a warm welcome and superb service. Jools’ cooking is based simply on treating stunning local ingredients with the imagination they inspire and the respect they deserve. A menu inspired by the produce grown and reared on our doorstep, and the artisans making cheeses, ciders and smoking eels in the nooks and crannies we’ve gradually discovered. And Stylish? Well, we may be in the country but we can still be civilised about it.
We rarely take more than about 20 covers in the restaurant – and having only the five rooms, a maximum of ten guests can stay any night. Breakfast is as good as it gets and you will find plenty to occupy your days exploring the neighbourhood, walking, shopping or whatever it is that floats your boat. Soon enough it’s time for a relaxed dinner and then you are only a few steps from your luxurious bedroom. During the afternoons staying guests are welcome to use the garden or the bar - a log fire in winter and the cool of thick stone walls and flagstone floors in the heat of summer. We don’t fuss or hover, the place is yours, but just ring the bell and refreshments are at hand.
*Officially a four star Restaurant with Rooms with Gold Award and TWO AA Rosettes.
Why “The Pilgrims”? Well the story goes that in the dark ages one of the paths used by pilgrims seeking King Arthur’s Tomb at Glastonbury Abbey passed through Lovington, and that the village was the last bastion of civilisation before these intrepid souls faced the hazards of the marshlands surrounding the raised ground on which Glastonbury stands. No change there then.
Whatever the truth of the matter, (and this bit of road is officially named Pilgrims Way, and the licence still says The Pilgrims Rest Inn) we’ve only revelled in that title for forty or fifty years. Before that it was The New Inn, presumably until it got too old. The “Old” coaching inn is reputed to be the lovely farmhouse with the steps up to the front door, on your left as you leave the village on the way to Castle Cary.
Our property title deeds apparently went up in a fire circa 1980, so documentation is non-existent, but the best guess is the building has stood for around three hundred years.
The English countryside is dotted with chocolate-box roses-round-the-door pubs on village greens, where the sun’s always shining and nothing disturbs the birdsong except the occasional thwack of leather on willow. And sometimes they even play cricket. But even when it was just a village pub The Pilgrims was never pretty. Solidly built from local stone as a one room pub with a couple of cottages attached and a cider barn out the back, and variously extended over a couple of centuries, the outside was at best practical rather than grand. Not great for first impressions.
Over the past 19 years we have gradually evolved into a restaurant, although something of the relaxed atmosphere of the pub remains. Along with developing the menu we have worked on the interior, retaining many of the features while adding contemporary comforts, and converting the cider barn to rooms in 2007.
Although the outside may not make the promises that old pubs often make - and which so often lead to disappointment - we promise that the opposite of that disappointment is what you’ll find at The Pilgrims.