Review; Don’t just come for dinner - stay overnight too!

The Swan Inn Fittleworth
The Swan Inn Fittleworth

It should be the perfect evening: Dinner at a fabulous, historic country inn set in a beautiful downland village in West Sussex where the food is magnificent, the welcome warm and friendly, and the ambiance ideal.

But for many there remains one lingering question before booking a table. Who is going to drive?

The Swan Inn Fittleworth

The Swan Inn Fittleworth

Unless you live in walking distance, a car journey is almost essential - and when the beers and wine list are exceptionally good, the person sipping orange juice all evening can be left feeling rather short changed.

The Swan Inn at Fittleworth is the ultimate option which overcomes any such reservations.

Not only does it combine excellence with value; inglenook fireplaces which roar out warmth in the winter and sunny gardens that tempt you outdoors with the sunshine; but it offers amazing accommodation too.

It has 14 newly refurbished ensuite rooms - each individually designed with a real touch of quality and class to make a stay memorable and special.

The Swan Inn, Fittleworth

The Swan Inn, Fittleworth

Some even have four poster beds.

But the prices are modest. A double room is £75 and a single £60. Triple rooms or four posters come in at £100. All prices include breakfast. And there are often some great deals on the website combining a room, breakfast and dinner.

So you can both enjoy dinner and neither of you need drive home that evening.

The food is especially good.

Under top chef Chris Moody, just the right balance is struck between contemporary cuisine and hugely generous portions.

This is traditional inn food with a real sense of style.

More than that, as many of the ingredients as possible are sourced locally - including the meat which comes from the neighbouring village of Loxwood.

We dined on a Sunday lunchtime.

Two of us shared the Fish and Seafood board - which comprised smoked salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and prawns (£12.95) - while our teenage children each chose the chicken and duck liver pate with red onion marmalade (£6.95).

Apart from the beer battered fillet of huss with chips and peas (£12.95) which was the preference of our daughter, we stuck with a traditional Sunday roast - the roast loin of pork with apple sauce (£11.95) and the roast sirloin of English beef and Yorkshire pudding (£13.95).

Finally, my wife and I indulged in a dessert each - the treacle tart (with the added twist of orange) and a summer pudding. The teenagers were too full to contemplate anything more, which is always a good sign!

The roasts were served with potatoes and a selection of seasonal vegetables.

We all agreed it was one of the best family lunches we had enjoyed at a country pub for some time - indeed, since we last visited The Swan!

The food is excellent.

More than that there are some great deals.

As well as a full a la carte, there is a fixed price menu (Monday to Friday) at £11.95 for two courses and £14.95 for three.

And the service is genuinely welcoming.

Dougie looked after us throughout the meal - he is a young man with some tremendous old-fashioned values of good hospitality and he is a great asset to the Swan.

But the landlord understands all about making guests welcome.

It’s been run for the past 15 months by the Wyman family and they know that being a true village pub is the real secret of success.

Anthony Wyman, who is partner in the business with his son Charlie, has extensive knowledge of what makes a village pub special having run the Anchor in Storrington up to 11 years ago.

The building is packed with history - it was built in 1382.

Edward Elgar, Rudyard Kipling and Lady Hamilton have all stayed at the Swan.

In the 19th century it was one of three hostelries in Britain that welcomed some of the finest artists of the age – who paid for their lodgings with samples of their works.

A collection of their paintings – which includes one by Constable’s brother – can still be seen in the bar and a number of the bedrooms such as Cole, Stretton, Watson, Litchfield, and Weeden are named after them.

In 1924 the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers – whose motto was ‘Lubrication in Moderation’ – was founded here.

The guild was created to ‘to foster the noble art and gentle and healthy pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of-leisure and ex-Soldiers’ and it attracted half a million members. Its friends still visit the Swan each year.

E.V. Lucas, Lamb’s biographer, thought it the most ingeniously-placed inn in the world. “It seems to be at the end of all things. The miles of road that one has travelled apparently have been leading nowhere but the Swan.”

So whether you are looking for lunch out or a great dinner, put the Swan at the top of your list - and make the evening all the more special, by booking a room too. The Swan Inn, Lower Street, Fittleworth, West Sussex RH20 1EN t: 01798 865429 e: