The historic market town of Charlbury can trace its roots back as far as the 7th century when it is thought to have been a monastic settlement. Its principal street names – Church Street, Market Street and Sheep Street – reflect the presence of the 11th century church, the foundation of the market in the 13th century and the importance of agriculture as the town’s primary industry.
Our newest addition to the Daylesford Stays collection, The Bell, sits in the centre of the original marketplace on Church Street. It has been an inn since it was first built in the 1600s, and its location meant it was an important hub for market goers and farmers – until the 1970s the livestock market still took place in the car park at the rear.
Image kindly supplied by the Charlbury Museum & Heritage Centre.
With so much history, it was important for us to preserve as much of the pub’s original character as possible in our considered restoration project. Sadly, over the years much of the building has been modernised or renovated meaning some qualities were lost, however key structural elements are still in place. In the oldest part of the inn, beautiful wooden beams and roof struts have been preserved and exposed to become striking features in the bar and bedrooms. All of the original fireplaces have been opened up and will once again become a focal point to warm our guests. The original flag stone floor in the bar has been extended to the rear entrance using reclaimed flags, and charming Georgian architrave and panelling has been uncovered and restored throughout.
Perhaps the most impressive and important surviving feature, the original roof has been left entirely untouched. Made from slate quarried at Stonesfield, just 3 miles away, it was made using traditional wooden peg fastenings and lime torching in a diminishing course pattern now decorated by centuries of lichen. Making any adjustment to the tiles would have lost this design, so all work to modernise the insulation has been done from within.
As with all of our restorations, we have prioritised the use of natural materials and traditional techniques throughout The Bell. Sheep’s wool insulation from Daylesford farm and lime plaster have been widely employed, and oak flooring has been installed to complement the flagstones on the ground floor. Our rooms feature timber cladding and limestone floors, and outside the pub newly built Cotswold stone walls surround the restored terraces.
The Bell is also blessed with a large rear garden that stretches 150 metres from the main building down to a stream. We have restored much of the historic orchard here, adding additional fruit trees and creating a path and bridge for guests to explore this small pocket of nature and cross the water. This small stream connects to the Evenlode, a special river for us that connects The Fox, Daylesford and The Wild Rabbit to The Bell before flowing into the Thames.
Discover our work with artisan craftsmen during the restoration of The Bell here.