The Shaven Crown
Love your history? It’s coming out of the brickwork at this lovely medieval 7 bedroom inn set opposite the church and village green in the quiet Cotswold village of Shipton under Wychwood. The Shaven Crown awas founded in the 14th century by the monks of Bruern Abbey to house pilgrims and as a hospice for the poor, later seized by the Crown and used by Elizabeth I as a royal hunting lodge, before it opened as an inn in 2014.
As you’d expect, The Shaven Crown still has many of its original features, including the gateway and double-braced roof structure of the Great Hall. There’s a small bar off the Hall that’s dog-friendly and used by locals as well as guests and serves casual food, a small central courtyard and a restaurant that spans two rooms.
Friendly, informal, quiet. With only 7 bedrooms and all that ecclesiastical history it’s a very calm place from which to base yourself. Shipton-under-Wychwood itself has only a post office, the village store and only The Shaven Crown as a pub, so there’s no doubt it’s a massive drop in pace for most to come here – I loved it for that, and it made an ideal romantic weekend away. No airs and graces here either – it’s definitely homely, a feeling exemplified by the owner’s placid black labrador who is a feature of the place with a dog bed in the hall.
My bedroom overlooked the courtyard (note to self: no naked wanderings by the window). The room was attractive in the English country style was perfectly decent in 4 star style.
The bathroom paintwork was tired in places but I’ll forgive a lot for an inn that’s a bit different and quirky – I really liked The Shaven Crown’s nooks and crannies and its warm, cosy feel. There’s a ground floor room if you’re not great with stairs (it can also be used as a family room though I think there would probably be more family-friendly spots than this inn), and if you want to nab the best room, ask for the Old Chapel Room with its four-poster bed and vaulted ceiling.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It’s a small inn and I wasn’t quite expecting the quality of food – very good indeed. Eating here on a Saturday night main restaurant was busy. I was trying to work out whether the restaurant was just for guests or also locals, but either way, it didn’t have that morgue-y atmosphere that can hound small rural hostelries.
My pan-fried sea bream with Jersey royals and petits pois (above, £16.75) was excellent and though I wouldn’t have chosen pork fillet with braised pigs cheeks, hazelnut, rhubarb, mashed potatoes and hispi cabbage (£17.25) in a million years, Mr Muddy absolutely woofed it down.
It was a pretty plate of food and you can see from the ingredients that the menu had complexity to it. Cheese and a sticky wine finished off a lovely meal.
Friendly yes. Ideal? Probably not. The Shaven Crown is road side and with only the courtyard and no children’s play area you’d find yourself having to entertain rather than relax. Having said that, if you’re out doing stuff all day, and the kids just want to eat and unwind, you should be fine.
OUT AND ABOUT
We went for an absolutely gorgeous walk a few minutes up the road to the community-owned Wychwood Wild Garden. Slightly undersold by the owner who mentioned it as a place to stretch our legs, but we thought it was stunning – a hundred lime trees, some over 250 years old, at the entrance to 12.5 acres of avenues, woods and ponds in utter peace, with canals that lead over three waterfalls and finally flow down to the Evenlode. Gorgeous for picnics in the summer, dog walking or just meandering as we did. There’s not much else in Shipton-under-Wychwood once you’ve mosied over to the church and green and around the block but you have tourist opportunities aplenty close by – Burford, the Slaughters, Chipping Norton and Woodstock are all close by. You’re also equidistant between Cheltenham and Oxford.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: Romantics looking for something a bit different. Exhausted city dwellers wanting some rural R&R.
NOT FOR: Those in full on tourist mode might want to stay more central to the Cotswold action in one of the towns. Young children will struggle to be occupied within the inn. Anyone expecting seamless 5 star facilities – think of this place as a homely, quirky 4 star and you won’t be disappointed.
THE DAMAGE: Very reasonable. A basic double starts at £95, going up to £140 per night – and that includes VAT and breakfast!
The Shaven Crown, High Street, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6BA. Tel: 01993 830500.