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Landlords mark decade at historic pub with two-day family festival

Families are being invited to a new two-day festival to help the licensees celebrate a decade in charge of their popular village pub.

Nick and Emma Woodhouse say the event, on June 29th and 30th, is their way of saying thank you to the community which has supported them since arriving at the Fleur de Lys, in Lowsonford, 10 years ago this month.

‘Fleur Fest’ promises a host of entertainment and activities throughout the weekend, from live musicians and performers – including stilt walkers and bubbleology – to craft and circus skills workshops, market and charity stalls and a dog show with prizes!

Fleur De Lys, Fleur Fest, Lowsonford

The event is also supporting Warwick charity Molly Ollys, and its founder Rachel Ollerenshaw will be on hand to raise awareness and sell raffle tickets across the two days.

Emma said: “Fleur Fest is our way of saying thanks to friends and fans of the Fleur. Our anniversary is very much something that we wish to celebrate because so few small businesses make it to their 10-year anniversary. So many hospitality businesses, particularly after the last few years, are struggling.

“It’s also a great excuse to have a bit of a party because it’s been such a such a miserable few years for a variety of reasons. It’s a celebration of all the things that this lovely pub offers. And Rachel from Molly Ollys is a beloved friends of so many of our locals so I wanted to support them too.”

Fleur De Lys, Fleur Fest, Lowsonford

The couple, who moved to Warwickshire from Bristol for their new project, are passionate about hospitality and have combined 30 years of experience in the industry. They work hard to protect the legacy and integrity of the inn, which they recognise as a valued part of local history.

The Fleur De Lys – which translates as Flower of Life – started out as a row of three 15th-century cottages which became canal workers’ accommodation and were later knocked together. Subsequent uses included a blacksmith’s forge and even a mortuary, from where the bodies were taken to Rowington Church in the absence of a village church at the time.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century when it first opened as a tavern, later going on to introduce the ‘pioneering’ idea of serving food and giving rise to the now famous Fleur De Lys pies.

The inn was mainly frequented by farmers who’d come in for a pie and a pint after they’d finished harvesting. The licensee at the time bought Emscote Mill in Warwick, from where they distributed nationwide but eventually the original pie recipe was sold, becoming what are now Pukka Pies. But, under Emma and Nick’s auspices, in 2018 Lowsonford Pies was born.

“People would come from all over to have a pie served to them through the kitchen hatch, directly from the chef’s hand, which is something you obviously couldn’t get away with today,” says Emma.

“We’ve had people come in who would say they used to come here for a pie before they even had a car!”

The couple, who now also juggle running the business with parenting two young children, never forget the responsibility they inherited as this pub’s latest custodians. For Emma, who hails from Birmingham, it has also meant a return ‘home.’

Fleur De Lys, Fleur Fest, Lowsonford

“We’d decided to take on our first pub together when the Fleur came up for sale. I remembered it because my family used to bring us here when we were kids. I recall swinging on the willow trees over the canal.

“We knew immediately this place could be an absolute treasure chest. It’s the perfect location and exactly what you think an Old English country pub should be like. It’s so cozy with the log fires going in the winter and a beautiful canal-side garden to enjoy in the summer months.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved in our time here so far, making the pub much more family-focused, but it’s always a work in progress.”

Fleur De Lys, Fleur Fest, Lowsonford

“Despite certain changes over the last 10 years, we have tried hard to keep honouring the character of the building. The biggest compliment for us is when people say, ‘oh, I used to come here in the 50s for a pie through the kitchen hatch, and it’s just the same as it was then, but a bit nicer!’

“If you think, how many people must have been in and out of this building over the years. – If these walls could talk!”

The hardworking husband and wife team hope the anniversary will be a good opportunity to meet newcomers to The Fleur while also ensuring locals and regulars are a big part of their celebrations.

Fleur De Lys, Fleur Fest, Lowsonford

“The village was so supportive of us and that first night that we were here, they all came out in force to greet us and they bought us a card which I still treasure to this day. We know that we are simply custodians of this beautiful old boozer and never take that for granted.”

Fleur Fest has been curated by Leamington-based events company Dare Productions  and runs between 12-8pm. Tickets are £15 for adults (plus booking fee) and £7 for children (plus booking fee) Children under three go free. Free face painting is also included within the children’s price. Available here.