A warm welcome awaits customers of the White Horse Inn in Sutton as it opens after a year of extensive refurbishment.
The pub, which sits on a popular walking route across the South Downs, has expanded from five bedrooms to eight, gained an upstairs seating area and undergone an overhaul of its overall layout.
It’s already had a soft reopening from Monday, with an official opening on Saturday and a full Sunday lunch available from December 2.
Owner Odile Griffith said: “We’re very much looking forward to it opening.
“It’s taken a very long time to get it into the condition we wanted and the planning process but I’m very very pleased with how it looks and looking forward to welcoming customers.”
She said she and her husband had never had any amibitions to own a pub but lived close by and had wanted to revive it as a ‘proper village pub’, selling breakfasts and cake and coffee as well as meals.
On top of the revamp ‘fit for the 21st century’ she said the inn had a great team in its favour.
General manager Billy Lewis Bowker has a wealth of experience and head chef Jonny Trent, who has worked at Michellin Star restaurants and Goodwood, will be running his own kitchen for the first time.
Refurbishment work has involved a complete revamp of the derelict garden cottage and the garden lodge to provide three more bedrooms.
The restaurant has also gained a new layout and another 50 covers upstairs.
It’s hoped the extra space for overnight guests could draw business from shooting parties or provide an attractive getaway for tourists.
Key to the vision for the White Horse, however, is a focus on its history in Sutton as a community.
The special guest at the opening on December 1 will be Sue Dudman, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were both publicans at the White Horse and now also has a granddaughter working at the pub.
“When we thought of people to open it there didn’t really seem to be anyone better,” Odile said.
“Lots of the old pictures in the back of the pub are hers. I just think it says something that there are people still in the village that have been involved with it for such a period of time.”
The pub’s rejuvenation has been welcomed by walkers of the Midhurst Way long distance path, which covers 29 miles from Haslemere to Arundel and passes through the pub’s yard.
“This route is in dire need of more bed and breakfast stop-overs,” said John and Rosemary Trueman, originators of the Midhurst Way. “These new double rooms in Sutton are particularly welcome.”