The Bell Inn, in Aldworth, Berkshire, has been named national pub of the year by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

It was praised by judges for its strong community focus, relaxed ambience, and, of course, great beer. The only pub in Berkshire with a grade II listed interior, it last won the pub of the year title nearly 30 years ago to the day.

Competition organiser, Ben Wilkinson, said: “The judges were impressed with how a stranger entering the pub was treated like a regular straight away.

“It’s clear that the local customers use the pub as a community centre as well as a place to drink, and the warm welcome and knowledgeable staff made us feel right at home. Nothing can beat the combination of good beer, great food, and a warm heritage pub.”

The Bell Inn last scooped the award when it was run by the current owner’s parents, Heather and Ian Macaulay. Heather’s son, Hugh, was delighted to see the award come home again after so many years.

He said: “The Bell Inn has been in my family for 250 years and my mother and father were running it when we last won the award. It’s a wonderful thing to be recognised for driving quality year after year. Not much has changed because we have kept our interior unspoilt all this time, and intend to keep it that way for years to come.”

Runners-up in the competition were the Swan With Two Necks, in Pendleton, the George and Dragon, in Hudswell, and the Red Lion, in Preston, Hertfordshire. 

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