The Wild Duck was only licensed in the 1930’s but the building dates back to 1563. The Wild Duck was a popular pub which retained a slightly rustic feel with panelling, settles, old paintings and an imposing Elizabethan fire place. Food was a speciality.
Gloucestershire & Avon Life, November 1972 – There’s nothing wild about the Wild Duck. by ‘Muscat’: Four miles from Cirencester and about two from the source of the River Thames is The Wild Duck Inn at Ewen – a most picturesque small inn reputed to be four hundred years old and still retaining much of its old charm.
Accompanied by three companions, I recently visited The Wild Duck for dinner and was particularly attracted by the surroundings as we had a pre-prandial drink at the bar. The beamed ceilings and large open fireplace – typical features of this old hostelry – make the bar one of the most delightful I have been in for a long while. Above the bar hangs a magnificent oil painting of a hunting scene. The resident proprietor, Mr. L.R. McLoughlin, told me that prior to his acquisition of The Wild Duck some eight months ago, the painting was hidden behind an array of bottles, but he has now had it fully restored and it certainly adds atmosphere to the place.
The dining room is fairly small and intimate and seats about thirty-five, thus enabling the staff to give efficient service. We enjoyed an excellent meal chosen from a large menu, and I can unhesitatingly recommend the taramasalata or the salmon mousse as a starter. There was a good selection of various steaks, as well as local duck in a variety of dishes, which are house specialities. An excellent selection of fresh seasonable vegetables – including five choices of potatoes – is always available.
Mr McLoughlin emphasises the fact that he only serves fresh food, freshly cooked, and does not fall in with the trend towards frozen foods. He is to be commended for this, even if it does mean that preparation takes a little longer. He is also justifiably proud of his own special supply of young ducks and the fact that his speciality dishes are served off the carcass.
The man course was followed by a good variety of savouries or a choice from the well stocked sweet-trolley. The wine list is compiled by Mr McLoughlin himself, with his own particular menu in mind, and one is unlikely to experience any difficulties in making an appropriate choice.
Coffee in abundance and The Wild Duck’s own chocolate mints competed a most enjoyable evening in an equally enjoyable atmosphere.
Gloucester Journal: 20th August 1990 – Well-known inn sold: One of the county’s best known pubs – the Wild Duck In at Ewen, near Cirencester, has been sold by specialist licensed and leisure agents Robert Barry & Co. This charming old Cotswold residential inn has a pretty village setting and ample parking. Access from major towns like Swindon is easy, and in addition to characterful bars, restaurant and a charming lounge in a 16th century part of the property, there are seven en-suite letting rooms and a private suite. The purchasers are Mr. and Mrs. B.H. Mussell. The sale price was not disclosed, but the agents were seeking offers in the region of £650,000.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 14th January 1999 – Dating Dino picks a Duck: Dino Mussell is the new landlord of the Wild Duck at Ewen at the ripe old age of 21. He took over the pub in November and is enjoying the challenge of being one of the country’s youngest landlords. Dino got his license after attending a British Innkeeping Institution course at GLOSCAT in Cheltenham. The course normally takes six weeks, but Dino passed in a single day, as he had so much previous experience.
“I worked at the Wild Duck since I was 12 years old and wanted my own place for years, but I never expected to get a license,” he said. He gained experience working at the Swag and Tales, a Knightsbridge bar which he ran when the owners were away, and as the bar manager at Nicole’s on New Bond Street, London for a year. He was also assistant manager at the Wild Duck for 18 months.
Since Dino took over the pub, its restaurant has received its first AA rosette, a prestigious food award. He puts this success and the increasing popularity of the pub to his management style, which is to be a hands-on boss.
Dino appeared on Blind Date two years ago. He said: “I was a picker and it was really good fun. I’m still in touch with all the girls.”
Wilts & Glos Standard, 9th December 1999 – Youth is no bar to pub success: One year on and with some sceptical customers along the way, The Wild Duck, at Ewen, is celebrating a massive increase in turnover, with one of the youngest landlords in the country at the helm. Dino Mussell, 22, was installed as manager last year, when his mother Tina bought out her former husband’s share of the business, having run it with him for the last eight years. With a new young management team on board, the country inn has been busy all year, restructuring and building an extension to add another twenty seats in the dining area. Now, after twelve months, the pub has reported an increase in turnover of £100,000.
“When we took over, some of our customers were a bit sceptical because Dino was so young,” said Tina Mussell. “But gradually we have proved that his age is a benefit and, with the rest of our staff, we now have a great front of house team who are very positive.
Tina attributes the increased level of activity to repeat business, and some good contracts with local companies who regularly book the eleven letting rooms. “We are delighted that we have kept our regular customers, but we’ve also noticed a trend for younger people eating here, probably because of Dino and his staff.”
Wilts & Glos Standard, 14th November 2002 – Man’s Wild Duck chase: A pub sign stolen from outside the popular Wild Duck Inn at Ewen almost eight years ago has been returned at last. The painting of two flying ducks by famous wildlife artist Sir Peter Scott was donated in the 1930’s when the business was first opened. But nearly eight years ago the sign was stolen and despite the police getting involved and a plea in the Standard to hand it back it was never to be seen or heard again.
That is, however, until just three months ago when a phone call from a man in Leicestershire said that he had bought a painting at a car boot sale for £10. The painting had the name of the Wild Duck Inn on it and the man then undertook to contact all the possible Wild Duck pubs in the country. As it happens there are only two – the other being a bed and breakfast near Alton Towers.
Landlord Dino Mussell said: “The gentleman asked me if we were the Wild Duck mentioned on the painting and explained how he had come to possess it. I told him the story and then to make it absolutely sure it was the one he sent me a photo by e-mail. I was absolutely chuffed to bits.”
The painting was found to be good condition and will now be placed in a frame and kept inside.
Wilts & Glos Standard, 2nd September 2005 – Feather in cap for Wild Duck: Staff at The Wild Duck in Ewen are over the moon this week after the popular pub was voted the 13th best in Great Britain. The Morning Advertiser – a pub trade paper – has compiled a 20-strong list of the top watering holes, based on food, drink and atmosphere. And the only pub to feature from the Cotswolds was the award-winning Wild Duck, which is managed by landlord Dino Mussell, 28. He said: “It is a real honour to have this kind of recognition nationally. We are all absolutely ecstatic about the whole whole thing – all the chefs and staff are over the moon. We’re on a roll at the moment, but this has really capped it.”
Gloucestershire Echo, 6th March 2008 – Wild Duck for sale at £3.5m: A renowned Cotswold hotel is up for sale at £3.5 million. The Wild Duck, in Ewen, near Cirencester, has been put on the market by its owner, who is retiring. For more than 20 years the hotel has featured in the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs guide. In 2006, The Independent named it in the top 50 British pubs. Now the posh guesthouse is up for grabs. It has been put up for sale through Knight Frank’s hotel team.
Colin Evans, associate at Knight Frank, said: “The Wild Duck has an excellent regional reputation and we are delighted to bring this to market for the first time in 26 years. The inn already benefits from a strong trade and has the potential for further development.”
The recently-refurbished hotel dates back to 1563. It has 12 bedrooms, an open log fire and a Post Horn bar serving real ales. It serves locally-sourced organic food in its restaurant.
Gloucestershire Echo, 10th June 2008 – Ramsay rumour runs wild at pub: Punters at a refined Cotswold watering hole could soon be reeling at the F-word. Rumours are rife that TV chef Gordon Ramsay has been looking at cooking up his own Hell’s Kitchen at The Wild Duck at Ewen. Owner Tina Mussell said gossip centred around the fiery chef started when the refined hotel and pub went on the market for £3.5m at the beginning of the year. She’s as keen as mustard to welcome the hot-tempered celebrity chef but has heard nothing concrete.
Mrs Mussell said: “The rumour seem to have generated itself ever since Knight Frank hotels team told us celebrity chefs were interested. If I could have a say in who purchased this, it would be someone of Gordon Ramsay’s ilk. It’s very busy and successful and probably needs someone like him to grab it by the horns and take it further.”
A spokesman for Gordon Ramsay would not confirm or deny the chef’s interest in the Wild Duck.
Gloucestershire Echo, Thursday 23rd January 2014 – Inn on the market at age of 451: Revellers have been visiting The Wild Duck for years to whet their whistles and satiate their appetites. The picturesque Cotswold inn close to Cirencester dates back to the 16th century and has the kind of history most pubs can only dream of.
But after 24 years in charge the current owners are selling the property, bringing The Wild Duck to the open market for the first time in 35 years. The pub is being marketed by specialist property adviser Christie & Co which is expecting there to be strong levels of interest in acquiring the inn.
Nicholas Calfe, director of Christie & Co, said: “This is a rare and exciting opportunity to come to the market and offers rewards beyond that of a successful business. It presents a strong platform and scope for a new operator to take it to the next level. The Wild Duck is a trophy asset, and consequently, expect to receive strong levels of interest and enquiry.”
History suggests the building was originally a gardener’s cottage and barns to the manor. One of the barns was the first in the area licensed in the First World War, subsequently closing when the war ended before reopening as a pub in 1937.
The building offers 12,000 square feet internally and is set on land in excess of half-an-acre. It has open log fires, exposed beams with hanging hop vines and wooden oak floors.
Gloucestershire Echo, Thursday 12th November 2015 – Duck flies again with new owners: The man behind the Superdry clothing brand, Julian Dunkerton, has bought a Cotswolds pub to add to his portfolio of properties. Dunkerton Properties has acquired The Wild Duck at Ewen, near Cirencester.
Peter Brunt, hospitality specialist at Colliers International, advised on the sale and has known the vendors, the Mussel family, for several years. He said: “I gave some consultancy advice to Tina Mussel and son Dino on this sale. My predecessor High Guillebaud, former senior partner of Robert Barry & Co, which was acquired by Colliers International in 1999, handled the sale of the Wild Duck to them in an off-market transaction just over 25 years ago.”
“It is always gratifying for the firm to be involved in both the beginning and the end of a hugely successful career in hospitality and I am the third generation in the firm to advise the family over the last 25 years, following both Hugh and my immediate predecessor Alastair Murchie. I’m looking forward to telling my former senior partner Hugh that I had an involvement at the end of the story, following on from what he began.”
Food service is set to resume at The Wild Duck on 3rd December after a kitchen refurbishment. Rooms will be shut until further notice while the new owners give the bedrooms a facelift.
Mr Brunt added: “The Wild Duck is a top drawer Cotswolds classic, with all the trimmings. I am looking forward to seeing what Dunkerton Properties bring to this well established business.”
Wild Duck Inn. Facebook Page (post 26th February 2019): We will be closing from Sunday 3rd March for major refurbishment and shall return in the autumn with 21 beautiful bedrooms, an alfresco terrace, and new dining spaces. Watch this space.
In February 2022 it was announced that Youngs (Pub Co) were to acquire the Lucky Onion pubs (Dunkerton Properties).
Wild Duck Inn. Facebook Page (active, March 2023): The Wild Duck is currently closed and undergoing major refurbishment with boutique bedrooms, an alfresco terrace and new dining spaces.
Map Reference: SU 007977
1972 Mr L.R. McLoughlin
1991 Tina Mussell
1999 (Jan) Dino Mussel