The King’s Arms, Charlton Horethorne
A charming countryside inn with 10 comfy rooms, great food – and service to match – right on the Somerset/Dorset border
A country inn combining great food and wine in relaxed surroundings, comfy rooms, good service and old fashioned charm – linen napkins come embroidered with the King’s Arms emblem and no piped muzak here.
In the pretty Somerset village of Charlton Horethorne, some five miles south west of Wincanton and five miles north east of Sherborne. Walkers who like a challenge, take note: it’s on the 625-mile Monarch’s Way, a long-distance footpath linking Worcester to Brighton.
Outside, turn of the 19th century (it’s been an inn since 1813). Inside, owners Tony and Sarah have created a cosy, welcoming Somerset country pub/hotel – awarded 1 star rosette and 5 star inn by the AA – with an expansive, light-filled open plan bar area with wooden tables and blue slate floors, assorted dining areas, a snug and a separate restaurant at the rear for more formal dining in the evening.
Take a seat, peruse the menu and admire the artworks on the walls – all by local artists and all for sale.
Stretch out and relax, why don’t you?
Table for one… or ten.
Cosy up on a leather sofa by the wood-burner in the snug.
Outside, time for a game of croquet on the lawn or just take in the views up a wide green valley once used to practice bombing raids during WW2.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The extensive menu with a good mix of traditional and modern dishes with some seasonal variation and smaller portions (if you must), probably means everyone will find something to tempt. Almost everything’s made in house, including pasta, ice cream and bread. Look out for speciality dishes cooked in their Josper Oven, a sort of indoor charcoal BBQ.
Onto the nosh. At lunchtime, our starters were crispy whitebait with salad and a gribiche sauce, a rather good variation of tartare sauce that includes chopped egg alongside the capers.
A hearty ham hock terrine came with homemade apple chutney, salad and chunks of Jospered crostini.
Next up, crisp salmon fishcakes sitting in a creamy tarragon sauce, with hand cut chips and some greenery.
The whopping Jospered, local 28-day aged rib eye steak came with a rocket and parmesan salad. There are Dauphinoise potatoes hiding there too.
Just enough room for pudding (phew). Papaya and mango salsa added a tropical twist to that Italian classic, a smooth and creamy vanilla pannacotta. One for Instagram?
The elderflower cheesecake topped with a heap of juicy blueberry compote was a truly superb and indulgent end to a lovely lunch.
Despite an impressive wine list with 50+ bottles, some available by the glass, and a good range of local ales, beers and cider, we showed restraint with just one glass of Pinot Grigio and a pint of Otter Bitter.
The service is excellent – the staff really look after you here.
Yep. There’s a children’s menu, large gardens and family-friendly accommodation.
Didn’t stay over but had a peep into a couple of the ten rather nice rooms, each named after a semi-precious gemstone. All individually decorated with en-suite wet rooms, flat screen TV, WiFi and tea/coffee making gear. Three are accessible by lift and one specifically for wheelchair access. There’s also a family room with an interlinking twin room. Say hello to the Peridot Bedroom…
OUT & ABOUT
Sherborne’s independent shops and historic Abbey, top dog National Trust property Stourhead House & Gardens, the Fleet Air Museum’s choppers and planes, one of the UK’s best collection of cars at the Haynes Motor Museum and Wincanton Racecourse – are all the doorstep. All the fossils you can handle are a little bit further south on the Jurassic Coast. And there’s always that walk.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Lunch or dinner with your mum, partner, pals or the whole famille seven days a week. Christmas get togethers. Casual during the day; more formal, if you prefer, in the evenings. Weekend in the country or a stopover en route to Cornwall as it’s just off the A303, about 2 hours from London. You can book online.
Not for: Anyone seeking an urban edge, this is a charming Somerset countryside inn. Those who can’t be parted from their pooches: dogs allowed in the bar but not in the restaurant or rooms.
The damage: Starters £6 – £8.50, mains £14 – £23, desserts £7.50. Rooms £145/night incl VAT and a full English. Extra £20 for extra bed/cot. The family room £250.
The King’s Arms, North St, Charlton Horethorne, Sherborne DT9 4NL . Tel 01963 220281. thekingsarms.co.uk