In a prominent position on the pedestrianised high street, The Swan, once a coaching inn, has…
The Holly Bush Inn
“Ancient pub with second oldest licence in England”
This thatched inn is situated in the village of Salt, which has been a settlement since the Saxon period. It is thought to be only the second pub in the country to receive, back in Charles II’s reign, a licence to sell alcohol, although the building itself may date from 1190. When landlord Geoff Holland’s son Joseph became a joint licensee six days past his 18th birthday, he was the youngest person ever to be granted a licence. The pub’s comfortably traditional interior contains all the essential ingredients: heavy carved beams, open fires, attractive prints and cosy alcoves. The kitchen has a strong commitment to limiting food miles by supporting local producers, and to ensuring that animals supplying meat have lived stress-free lives. The main menu features dishes such as breaded whole-tail scampi; grilled pork chops with cheese, beer and mustard topping; and Greek lamb, namely roast shoulder with red wine, herbs and spices and Greek salad. Look to the blackboards for the day’s vegetarian options and enjoy the seasonal puddings. During the warmer months hand-made pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired brick oven. June and September are the months for beer and cider festivals.
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About the area
It was Staffordshire that bore the brunt of the largest non-nuclear explosion of World War II, when a munitions dump at RAF Fauld went up in 1944. It was also the county’s regiment that once boasted within its ranks the most decorated NCO of World War I, in the person of William Coltman (1891-1974). Going back a little further, George Handel penned his world-famous masterpiece The Messiah on Staffordshire soil. During another chapter of Staffordshire history, the county was home to the first canals and the first factory in Britain, and it had front-row seats for the drama surrounding one of the most notorious murder trials of the 19th century, that of Doctor William Palmer.
In outline, Staffordshire looks not unlike the profile of a man giving Leicestershire a big kiss. The man’s forehead is arguably the best region for hillwalking, as it comprises a significant chunk of the Peak District. This area is characterised by lofty moors, deep dales and tremendous views of both. Further south are the six sprawling towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent, which historically have had such an impact on Staffordshire’s fortunes, not to mention its culture and countryside. This is pottery country, formerly at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and the driving force behind a network of canals that still criss-cross the county.
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