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When one door closes, another opens

Following a large-scale refurbishment at The Hogget in Hook (formerly The Dorchester Arms) back in 2008 I remember opening the doors one Friday afternoon following all the work finishing and we genuinely couldn’t believe the reception that we would receive… Prior to opening The HOGGET I had been in business for nearly 7 years with 2 successful pubs behind me – first at The Lamb at Edington in Wiltshire (recently renamed The Three Daggers) then at The Vine at Hambledon in Hampshire. The popularity of The HOGGET was unprecedented and I can proudly say that for the first time in decades, Hook and the surrounding villages wanted to head to the ‘pub by the traffic lights’ and the rest, as they say, is history.

In total Laura and I spent nearly 15 years at The HOGGET and in that time we experienced ups and downs like most businesses but luckily we managed to create a business that ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of people. We won some awards along the way too which was amazing.

We also managed to navigate lots of challenging times including the various lockdown periods and we usually came out the other side stronger than ever and we are really proud of the business we left at the start of January 2023. We were also incredibly lucky to have built a group of staff who stuck together and looked after every customer as if they were there own and Laura and I owe them a huge debt of thanks – we genuinely couldn’t have done it without them.

We chose to leave The HOGGET because the appeal of being at the helm of THE NEW INN was simply too great. Leaving the business part of it all to one side for a minute; the remarkable history of the building is one thing being being over 500 years old but the fact that Laura’s parents and also grandparents were previous publicans of this grand old establishment back in the 70’s and 80’s is just incredible (check out the History page on the web site). In these modern times we only ever hear about businesses like THE NEW INN either closing and being converted into flats or being sold to corporate companies who somehow manage to suck the life and character out of them and turn them into faceless venues where nobody knows your name… Could the fairytale come true? Could we turn it around after a few years of steady decline? Could we give the building the refresh it so deserves?

There’s only one way to find out.

The refurbishment began the day we took the keys back from Hall & Woodhouse on the 22nd of September 2022. Local people will remember the arrival of the concrete blocks and the big gate – they were clear signs that change was afoot. Shortly afterwards in October the fences were erected and vans started to arrive and work began. With every week that passed more and more vans arrived and more changes started to occur.
We had to be respectful of the history and provenance of the building so we didn’t undertake any alterations but in truth there weren’t many aspects of the decor that didn’t need seriously updating so we employed the services of a lovely young lady by the name of Emma Simmonds (ESD Commercial Interior Design). She put together a scheme of work throughout the pub and hotel which brings it all firmly up to the required standards whilst blending in with our countryside surroundings perfectly. She has created a space where people can feel relaxed and excited at the same time – it’s welcoming and contemporary.
With builders, decorators, electricians, plumbers, engineers, kitchen fitters (to name but a few) all buzzing around the site since November it’s certainly been a busy time and we are nearly there – just a few finishing touches to complete but as the old saying goes – the devil is in the detail and we need to get that right.
We were lucky to have made many, many happy memories at The HOGGET and we will cherish those times forever but with THE NEW INN nearly ready to go we can’t wait to start making some new memories and putting THE NEW INN back on the North Hampshire pub map!!!

Time to walk through that door and see where the journey takes us.

By Tom Faulkner