High Street, Eccleshall, Staffordshire ST21 6BW
T: 01785 859 065 : www.royaloakeccleshall.co.uk
www.royaloakeccleshall.co.uk Eccleshall is a small town between Market Drayton and Stone. When the brewery operated from Stone, Eccleshall boasted 8 pubs, 5 were Joule's houses including the very fine Crown next door to the Royal Oak, now a doctors surgery. Unsurprisingly Eccleshall is a key area for us. Historically it was an important link town, the number of pubs a direct result of the requirement for coaching inns on a key route to Stafford. The Royal Oak was a classic, with substantial stabling and accommodation for travelers.
Its story though extends back further than the coaching inn era, the origins of the building can be seen in the attics; the central chimney may even pre date the ancient timbers. The local conservation officer suggested the attics date from the 17th century, the central chimney perhaps before that. The attics have long been abandoned but reveal a series of eiry small servants rooms with no natural light. With lath and lime plaster and small oak framed door openings, these rooms evidence an ancient building and suggest the Royal Oak was a substantial inn well before the old toll roads. The Inn's name also suggests royalist loyalty at the time of the English civil war which explains the rumour of a tunnel leading from the cellars to Gaol Butts nearby. The cellars are certainly ancient, old stone and arched and do reveal an intriging closed passage. The coaching era though heralded a major change of the Oak, in the early 1800's the arches would have been added and the attics abandoned in favour of extensions to the complex including the coaching stables and the fine assembly rooms. This was the heyday of the inn, a major series of buildings, at this time the internal area would have been subdivided to provide the many rooms customers required; a standing bar for local workers, a gentlemen only smoke room, dining rooms for guests of the inn, possibly even a coffee room for ladies. In Victorian times the inn was radically changed again, staircases added, internal toilets added and rooms amalgamated and the introduction of a bar servery. Before this it is unlikely the inn would have had a servery - just ale from the cellar served from a jug.
Ida Boughey ran the pub from 1957 to 1974 but remembers it from even before this time. Her family found the pub much as it had been for a century, the rooms largely as they are now. Ida fondly recalls how the Oak was the best pub in Eccleshall and such was its standing, it would attract people from the smoke of the Potteries and Stone, renowned near and far, it was the usual pub to go to for a special occasion. Except the 'farmers bar', in there that was always just the locals - it had been a gentlemen only bar, women could go in of course but they never did. 'It was always called the farmers bar, before we came, always, and ever since'. The farmers bar is the small internal snug, we think the only original room intact since before the major Georgian works and it still has a very special aura within. Ida is a part of the golden age of inn keeping, still, in Eccleshall she is an indomitable lady and we thank her very warmly for her time, and for showing us old pictures which helped us with our design for the 2011 refurbishment.
The Inn passed through the hands of 1966 world cup hat trick scorer Geoff Hurst until Colin Rawlings took it on in 1984. Colin secured this precious building and re roofed the assembly rooms which were in danger of falling into disrepair, he also invested substantially in the fabric of the building. Colin opened up the end room into one allowing an improved dining area and for groups to meet. Colin sold the pub in 2002 to a major pub group when it then fell into disrepair until Joule's Brewery restored the inn in 2011. It is once again a much loved pub, like all Joule's Houses, full of craft, pride and passion and a flagship for our ales.
|Monday||11am - 11pm|
|Tuesday||11am - 11pm|
|Wednesday||11am - 11pm|
|Thursday||11am - 11pm|
|Friday||11am - 12 midnight|
|Saturday||11am - 12 midnight|
|Sunday||12 noon - 11pm|
Food Service Hours
|Monday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
|Tuesday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
|Wednesday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
|Thursday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
|Friday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
|Saturday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
|Sunday||12noon - 2.30pm, 6pm - 9pm|
For more information and up and coming events please visit http://www.royaloakeccleshall.co.uk/