The Wellington, Feltwell, Great Norfolk Pub Guide: ‘Does Feltwell’s RAF heritage proud’
PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:12 21 April 2017
Many a pub can reasonably claim to be their community’s hub, but standing 10 miles west of Thetford is a free house that feels like the village of Feltwell’s very own front room.
Since 1730 its premises have lived in many guises – a village stores, off-licence and even a Mexican restaurant included. Most recently it was The Wine Lodge, but after a massive root-and-branch refurb in 2013 it was reborn as The Wellington – a pub and restaurant celebrating Feltwell’s RAF heritage, and one amazing story of bravery in particular…
In July 1941 Sergeant James Ward seemingly had two choices when flying his stricken Wellington back from a bombing raid. One - limp as far as possible before ditching in enemy territory or, two, succumb to the Messerschmitt fire that had left one wing ablaze, and bail there and then.
Ward chose a third option, one that earned him a Victoria Cross.
He crawled out onto his wing mid-flight. He then inched towards the flames and put them out before returning to his cockpit to nurse the damaged bomber home to Newmarket.
Landlords Chris Samuels and Chris Grandison are both avid historians and their enthusiasm for Ward’s and The Wellington’s backstory is proudly on display.
War medals, photos and clippings fill the walls. Wellington paintings and replicas too – even the coat hooks and weather vane pay tribute to the plane – and hero - that gives this pub its name. The Wellington’s ‘Almost Home’ ale commemorates James Ward’s amazing act of derring-do. The ‘Feltwellington’ summer ale salutes the best Norfolk ingredients whilst nodding towards Ward’s native New Zealand with a special citrus twist.
Today The Wellington provides a home-from-home for many a local - and many an adopted American local from the RAF bases nearby. All seem equally enchanted by the strenuous efforts daily put in to making this pub their pub, and it’s easy to see why.
Good food, good beer and a warm welcome are guaranteed, as is an inspiring sense of pride in the place and its provenance. The Wellington has done Feltwell - and Sergeant Ward - proud.
Need to know:
Opening hours: 12noon to 11pm Monday to Thursday, 12noon to midnight Friday and Saturday, 12noon to 10.30pm Sunday.
Food: The Wellington has developed a reputation for good food. It has a light, bright 28-seat restaurant away from the main bar but still in the midst of plenty of interesting Wellington memorabilia.
Crisp linen and fresh flowers adorn every table and chef Antony Kirby rustles up a range of filling dishes. The pub grub classics are all expertly catered for in Kirby’s kitchen but look out for some stand-out specials too. The vegetable Wellington and seared bacon loin are particular treats.
Food is served Tuesday to Friday 12noon to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm, from 12noon to 9pm on Saturday and from 12noon to 4pm on Sunday
Six of the best with Chris Samuels, landlord, The Wellington:
1. When’s the BEST time to visit your pub?
I reckon about 5pm to 5.30pm in the evening – you can’t beat it. All the guys are in for a pint after work.
2. What’s the BEST memory you have of your pub?
Without doubt – thinking that the place was haunted. I had the ice machine on and could hear it three storeys up. It sounded like someone was knocking on the door when there was no-one else here!
3. What’s the BEST pint you serve?
Almost Home – it tells the story of James Ward.
4. What’s the BEST dish on the menu?
Vegetable Wellington by a country mile.
5. What’s the BEST hangover cure known to Man?
Weetabix. Baileys. And banana.
6. And finally, what’s the BEST pub in Norfolk (apart from yours)?
It’s got to be The Feathers in Dersingham – I always go there for a swift half with my grandma when I’m passing through.
Watch The Great Norfolk Pub Guide in association with Lacons on The Mustard Show this Friday (6:30pm on Mustard TV: Freeview Ch7 or Virgin Ch159). Catch up on the whole series by searching ‘Great Norfolk Pub Guide’ on the Norfolk Now YouTube channel.