The Puesdown is in an isolated spot on the Cheltenham to Burford (A40) road. It is about one mile to the east of Compton Abdale and one mile to the south of Hazleton. It dates from 1236. The Puesdown Inn was once tied to Green’s Stow Brewery.
There was a story that the pub was reputedly haunted by a highwayman, a tall man in a dark cape who is said to have knocked on the door of the pub three times after being shot in the back by an arrow. It was reported that the sound of three knocks was still occasionally heard. Unfortunately it now seems that this story has been made up.
Keith Lockey emailed me. He told me that his parents and his grandparents, who had long associations with the pub, never mentioned the ghost story. Keith did tell me, however, that people were trapped at the Puesdown for days during the severe blizzards of 1947.
Gloucestershire Echo, 19th August 1995 – New pub is full of adventure: Drinkers with a taste for ale and adventure are feeling right at home in a new pub in Compton Abdale. The Cotswold Explorer, formerly the Puesdown Inn, has been decorated with memorabilia relating to Cheltenham Hero Dr Edward Wilson. Dr Wilson died in 1912 while returning from an expedition to the South Pole with Captain Robert Scott. Landlords Nicholas Dobbin, 32, and Michael Lebiseur, 34, have filled the pub rooms with antique skis, old photographs of mountains and mountaineers and other objects glorifying the achievements of adventurers.
The men have also created an Alpine room to bring a bit of ski-chalet sophistication to the old coaching inn. The menu includes an explorer’s breakfast and an American explorer’s burger. Mr Dobbin is no stranger to adventure, having climbed the 16,000 ft Mount Blanc last year to raise £15,000 for charity. He has been running a hotel in the French alps for the past few years.
Mr Dobbin, of Cheltenham, said: “We both have an interest in exploration and wanted to do something a bit different with the place.”
Gloucestershire Echo, 26th March 1997 – Licensee banks on success: The Cotswold Explorer, formerly known as the Puesdown Inn, has been sold by the Cirencester office of national hotel and licensed property agents Robert Barry & Co. The sellers, who bought the pub through Robert Barry & Co in July 1995, put the business back on a sound footing after taking it over when there was very little trade.
The new licensee is Tanya Berisford-Wylie, for whom this marks a dramatic change in lifestyle. Until recently, Tanya worked in a bank in the Cayman Islands. New chef is Tanya’s brother Charles, who has a number of years’ experience in the trade, latterly in a very busy pub in London.
The sale price was not disclosed but the agents were very pleased with the result.
The pub was renamed the Puesdown Inn on 26th July 1997.
Commercial property, 3rd September 2002 – Cotswold pub change hands: The Puesdown Inn at Compton Abdale, which had a freehold asking price of £425,000, has been bought by John and Maggie Armstrong.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 7th November 2002 – Cosy inn is on the up: John and Maggie Armstrong have swapped their careers in five-star international hotels for a cosy Cotswold inn. After seven years abroad in China, Egypt, Jordan and St. Lucia, the couple wanted to buy an inn with rooms and lots of potential, including a garden that would be big enough for a marquee.
They found all this and more at the Puesdown Inn in Compton Abdale, which they have already started refurbishing. Maggie said: “We are looking forward to spending our first Christmas here after the Christmases abroad.”
Gloucestershire Echo, 21st June 2005: Drop into inn on a wild winter’s night: The Puesdown Inn has won a place in the Les Routiers in Britain Hotel and Restaurant and Pubs and Inns Guides. It’s entry reads: “On a wild winter’s night this isolated former coaching inn, situated high in the Cotswolds, is the perfect retreat.”
Owners John and Maggie Armstrong have renovated and refurbished the inn on the A40 near Northleach since they bought it in 2002. Maggie said: “What makes it a retreat is fab food, attentive staff and a lovely ambience. There’s lots and lots of sofas, so people can sit down with a drink before dinner and chill out after.”
The settees get a mention in the guide, which says: “The rambling bar and dining area sport oak floors, warm, rich colours and deep sofas fronting warming log fires.” Les Routiers also mentions the standard of food on offer. The couple say this is down to John who sources quality ingredients.
Gloucestershire Echo, 20th January 2006 – Duo are serving up more success: A Cotswolds pub and restaurant has turned itself around is is set for success. The Puesdown Inn, at Compton Abdale, has won two AA Rosettes. The honour comes on top of the accolade of the South West Inn of the Year in Britain Hotel and Restaurant Pubs and Inns Guides.
When proprietors John and Maggie Armstrong bought the pub in August 2002, it opened only three days a week. They have since renovated the A40 building and put it on the culinary map. Maggie said: “We’re delighted and feel consistency is paramount.”
A mystery inspector praised the pub’s menu for its ‘highlight and clarity of flavours, utilising fresh seasonal ingredients, and accuracy of cooking.’
The Puesdown Inn, Best gastro pub. March 2007: The Puesdown Inn in Compton Abdale has been named Best Gastropub of the Year in the prestigious Morning Advertiser Pub Awards 2007. This glorious roadside tavern, parts of which date to 1236, was taken over by John and Maggie Armstrong in 2002 and the couple have since spent £100,000 renovating and refurbishing both the pub and the three guest bedrooms. “We cordoned off areas of the bar and restaurant and did most of the work ourselves,” says Maggie. “At times, the restaurant was in a different place from week to week. “John, who was a cook at the Savoy, says: “Our vision was always to make the Puesdown food-led. Good, simple, fresh home-cooked food with as much as possible sourced locally.”
Recognition has also come via inclusion in AA Guides and being voted Les Routiers South West Inn of the Year 2005.
Cotswold Life, April 2007. Interview with John Armstrong of the Puesdown Inn: Question: What’s your signature dish?
“This is an interesting one. For the Food Excellence Seafood Awards Final my dish was ‘tornados of hake’, salmon mousseline with trompette and marmesan mash and parmesan tuile’, and that has now become a firm favourite with customers!”
Gloucestershire Echo, April 2009 – Get on down to the Puesdown: Fancy letting someone else do the washing up for a change but you haven’t got money to burn? Put a note in your diary to visit the Puesdown Inn on 29th April 2009.
The gastro pub at Compton Abdale is holding a mid-week special when you can tuck in to fish and chips and either a pint or a glass of wine for just a fiver per person. Proprietors John and Maggie Armstrong have several offers on from loyalty cards that could earn you free pizza to senior citizen’s deals on Wednesday lunchtimes.
Garniche at the Puesdown
Gloucestershire Echo, 14th June 2008 – Review by Joyce Matthews: (edit) Question: How to cook a perfect scallop? It’s a question that taxes the finest chefs around and John Armstrong at The Puesdown Inn could teach them a thing or two. As we settled down in this wonderful pub, we expected an enjoyable starter of the usual seared scallops. What arrived was a work of art and we didn’t know quite where to start. His spectacular baked scallop arrived in the form of a big shell, sealed at the edges with pastry. By its side was a little tower of spinach, with two king prawns and sauce in a delicate little glass. How to get into the shell was the problem. Thankfully, the waitress was used to giving advice. A knife to cut through the pastry, a sharp twist and all was revealed – a delicate scallop with fine shreds of carrot and fennel in a little sea of pernod and thyme. It might have cost £8.50 but as a showpiece, it was worth every penny.
Gloucestershire Echo, 8th March 2018 – New owners on the menu for historic inn: County foodie haven The Puesdown Inn has been sold following a confidential deal brokered by Colliers International. Dating from 1236, the inn, was sold off an asking price of £550,000. Peter Brunt, a director in Colliers International Hotels Agency team, said: “The market responded well to the opportunity with competitive offers made to secure the property. The confidential purchaser was attracted by the three letting rooms and the fact that it sits on a very large site so there is plenty of scope to take the business forward.”
Peter Brunt said: “Our clients bought the Puesdown back in 2012 and set about improving the living quarters and creating an interesting cafe, bar and restaurant with shop trading as Garniche at the Puesdown.” He continued, “as it has been comparatively lightly traded, the Puesdown offers considerable scope to expand operations.”
Garniche at the Puesdown has now ceased trading.
Cotswold District Council. Planning Application, 15th June 2021: Alterations, extensions and erection of outbuildings to facilitate the change of use of the building into 4 residential dwellings.
Map Reference: SP 076171
Owner in 1891: E. Waller., Esq. (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1891: £14.10s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Edward Augustus Green, Stow Brewery
Rateable value in 1903: £16.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 10pm
Landlords at the Puesdown Inn include:
1851 George Harris
1856 William Cove
1891,1897 Adolphus Cove
Wilts & Glos Standard, Saturday 5th June 1898: Death of Mr A. Cove: Mr Adolphus Cove, the well-known landlord of that note hunting rendezvous, Puesdown Inn, died on Tuesday after a short illness. His death came as a shock to a large circle of acquaintances. He was fifty years of age, and leaves a widow and five children. Representatives of local benefit societies, Oddfellows and the Cirencester Benefit Society were present at the funeral, which took place on Saturday at Hazleton.
1902 Mrs Mary Ann Cove
1903 Wilfred George Cove
1906 Mrs Mary Ann Cove
1913 Mr. Eborn
1919,1939 Charles Curtis
1939-1952 Frederick William Davies (previously at the White Lion, Apperley)
1995 (Aug). Nicholas Dobbin and Michael Lebiseur (Cotswold Explorer)
1997 Tanya Berisford-Wylie