Despite the many challenges thrown at it and the sector in the past few years, the Brisley Bell has undergone a total refurb, both inside and out and has now been declared the overall Great British Pub of the Year (GBPA), fighting off competition from across the UK.
The Norfolk-based business, run by co-owners Amelia Nicholson and Marcus Seaman, originally took the title for best pub garden, before being declared the overall best pub in the country in the industry ‘oscars’.
While gardens have become increasingly important to pubs in the pandemic, the Brisley Bell’s transformation of its outdoor space was described as impressive and having a real “wow factor”, with secret tables and wild areas to explore.
This combined with a stunning interior that has brought the village local back to life netted the business the top title.
On receiving the prestigious overall GBPA title, Seaman told the crowd at the GBPA winners’ lunch at The Pem in London: “It’s hugely humbling. I’ve seen 12 amazing pubs so we thought we had no chance at all. But all credit to you guys for having amazing pubs and we feel privileged to be named the top pub.
“I’d love to say we are going to expand but we are not. We are focusing on doing what we love really well.”
The GBPA has been running for more than two decades and is the pub sector’s leading awards, giving recognition to the best pubs in the country across a range of categories reflecting how the public use the pub, from family outings, sporting events through to celebratory meals.
Ed Bedington, editor of The Morning Advertiser, which organises the awards, said: “This is a fantastic pub, with a fantastic story of how two new entrants to the trade have restored a struggling business back to being the heart of the community it serves.
“While the Brisley Bell initially won based on the strength of its stunning outdoor space, it’s interior and the overall operation was clearly a cut above, despite some very strong competition from other category winners.
“Pubs have had a hugely challenging time of late, and it’s a real pleasure to organise these awards and see that there are still businesses out there, thriving, and setting standards for all to follow, reminding us that pubs are vibrant, important institutions and long may they remain so.”
The Brisley Bell fought off competition from 12 other pubs, all of which took home the title in their own categories.
The competition also recognised excellence in the kitchen with Gordon Stott of the Purefoy Arms being names Pub Chef of the Year, while Samuel McClurkin of the Dog at Wingham was named Young Pub Chef of the Year.
The winners of the Great British Pub Awards were: