The Bedingfeld Arms
The Bedingfeld Arms in Oxburgh offers great value authentic country hospitality - with a side of quirky!
The North Norfolk Coast gets all the hot press and whilst we can’t deny its goregousness, we love finding hiddens gems like The Bedingfeld Arms in the often overlooked district of Breckland (Brecks to us locals). Standing boldly at the heart of the village of Oxborough, it overlooks the village green and neighbours the half ruined 16th century Church of St. John the Evangelist.
Oxborough is also home to National Trust’s 15th century moated Manor House, Oxburgh Hall – which is in fact right next door to the pub and can be reached through a gate at the bottom of the garden.
Built in 1783 as the coaching inn for the Bedingfeld family (still living at Oxburgh Hall), from the outside this three storey building has quite a grand and imposing feel. Step inside and it’s full of warmth and character much like its co-owner – the wonderfully enthusiastic hostess Cat Parker.
The pretty estate village of Oxborough is close to the market towns of Swaffham and Downham Market and for those visiting the county there’s plenty to explore in the area (see our Out & About section) plus you can avoid the crowds and prices that the coast draws.
The Bedingfeld is one of those places that wraps its arms around you as you walk in. It’s an eclectic mix of shabby chic and vintage furniture, gorgeous marble fireplaces and blooms of fresh flowers. Lots of lovely nods to the history of the family, the hall and the local farming environment which keeps this inn well and truly at the heart of the community.
For a Tuesday night, the pub was heaving. However, two wakes and a Muddy Stilettos review on the same night, it was hard not to see the comedy in their planning. By the time we headed down for dinner the mourners had reached that lovely merry place of reminiscence and it didn’t affect our enjoyment of the evening at all.
The joyous Catkin and her husband Stephen have lovingly refurbished the 10 bedrooms and added a light and airy conservatory, built with traditonal peg and wood carpentry. Succesfully extending the appeal from local pub with tasty food to a great place for parties, events, private dining and weekend getaways.
I loved the quirky and homely touches that can be found in and around the inn from the messy shelf of books and magazines to the Abbey Road John Lennon statue in the garden. This is very much a place with personality which might not be to everyone’s cup of tea. I loved it – you can leave the over stylised clean lines for trendy bars, keep our country pubs cosy.
The garden is huge and a great place for families to relax in the summer, perhaps after a trip to neighbouring Oxburgh Hall (wonderful walks and den building opportunities).
THE SCOFF & QUAFF
There is a dining room either side of the main bar area, both of which are light in decor with a lovely collection of mis matched wooden tables and chairs, big fire places, white washed panelling and Catkin’s signature bright and colourful blooms. On a busy night, the environment was buzzy and it is a great place for friends to catch up. However, I can imagine on a quieter evening the cosiness of the rooms would be very conducive to romance.
The menu is a creative interpretation of traditional pub grub with lots of local produce and game. I started with the Gambas Pil Pil which was very tasty and Mr O had the Wood Pigeon and Rabbit Terrine, Artichoke, Heritage Kale, Parsnip Crisps. I’d never seen this on the menu before: “** May Contain Lead Shot“ which I guess confirms it’s localness but be warned plant based eaters.
For main – a big hearty 10 oz rump steak served with creamed spinach, tomato, mushroom and fries and a fish tempura pak choy stir fry followed by apple and blackcurrant crumble with ice cream and cream caramelized lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. One word – yum!
Lucky old us – we got to stay in the Bedingfeld Suite with its four poster bed, whimsical cream drapes, marble fireplace and french style furniture. Owner Catkin has impressed her personal touches onto each of the bedrooms from the the art to the literature to the objets which make them feel more like someone’s guest room than an hotel room.
The Bedingfeld is full of magical quirkiness around every corner which helps you to turn a blind eye to the fact that some of the decor can be a touch eclectic. Again, it’s a matter of personal taste and I liked the individuality of each of the rooms – it was nice to have my interest piqued by unusual things.
Quality beds and linen, we slept like logs and woke to the most beautiful views over the green and neighbouring church.
OUT & ABOUT
Did I mention that The Bedingfeld is next door to National Trust property Oxburgh Hall? I love this moated residence as it’s small in comparison to some of the other stately piles in Norfolk, the grounds are great for short walks and there are tons of den building opportunties in the woods.
Ideally positioned on the Peddars Way – you can explore this part of the 74km trail on foot, bike or horseback. Lots of lovely historic sites to visit nearby from Houghton Hall to the historical Iceni Village in Cockley Cley to the ruins in Castle Acre.
The market town of Swaffham isn’t far away and the traditional Saturday market is great for a mosey around the bric a brac stalls before lunch at the Market Cross Cafe. Get lost in Shabby Tatt Antique shop and then pop over to Bam & Arrow in the grounds of Strattons Hotel for some gorgeously quirky objets.
If you’re travelling with kids, Stow Bardolph Farm is great fun for the little ones – play areas, animals and seasonal pig racing! The nearby Hare Arms is handy for a quick drink after petting all those animals!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: People wanting somewhere off the beaten track, authentic country hospitality with a little bit of local quirkiness.
Not for: City slickers wanting clean lines and sophisticated styling.
The Damage: Starters from £6.00, mains from £11.50, desserts £6.00. Great value accomodation – Double rooms start at £69 per night and £125 for The Bedingfeld Suite.
Bedingfeld Arms, The Green, Oxborough Norfolk, PE33 9PS Tel: 01366 328300