Fittleworth’s Swan Inn reopens

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The historic Swan Inn at Fittleworth has reopened after a ten-week, £500,000 facelift and there are new faces greeting customers.

They are the award-winning White family team behind Whites Bar and Kitchen at Steyning.

The Swan is a joint venture being undertaken by George White, 26, his elder brother Alex, younger brother Dominic and parents Martina and David.

George who graduated with a philosphy degree has found himself accidentally heading up the new venture.

“My father has been in the hospitality business all his life and we were brought up preparing vegetables in kitchens from the age of about six, but I had just graduated in 2005 and got a job with a big management consultancy in London when my father asked me to help him out in Steyning for a few week.

“I never left, but I love what I do, I enjoy working with people – it’s in our blood.”

Five years later his brother left college with a music diploma. “I did to him exactly what dad did to me and he didn’t hesitate to join us.”

The family took over The Swan Inn a year ago, but closed the doors in February this year to carry out major refurbishment work.

“We have tried to bring the building up to date, making it much lighter, but retaining all the character and charm of the place,” said George.

A second stage of refurbishment is set to take place later this year when the 15 bedrooms will be refurbished. But said George, these were currently available to let.

For generations The Swan Inn has been a favourite amongst artists inspired by the beauty of the area. During the Victorian era many famous artists visited the Swan painting a picture in return for food and lodgings. These paintings are now displayed in the bar.

The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers – motto ‘lubrication in moderation’ – was founded at The Swan in 1924. The guild was created ‘to foster the noble art and gentle and healthy pastime of froth blowing amongst gentlemen-of-leisure and ex-soldiers’.

It apparently attracted half a million members in the 1920s and 1930s.