The new-look Fox & Hounds is now open. Visit us today and sample our new menu and range of drinks. The Fox & Hounds is a Grade II listed inn with a distinctly rural essence, a lovely old country pub on the banks of the River Stour.
With its thatched roof and pretty hanging baskets, The Fox and Hounds is a beautiful, Grade II listed country inn, in the Dorset village of Little Canford, near Wimborne. Standing peacefully on an old country lane, surrounded by open fields, with the River Stour ebbing and flowing behind it, the inn has a charming rural quality to it. And with Kingston Lacy, Holt Heath Nature Reserve and even the New Forest all within easy reach, The Fox and Hounds is a gateway to some of Dorset’s most picturesque countryside.
Perched on the banks of the Stour, The Fox and Hounds is a popular stop-off for both walkers and cyclists, who follow the river as it meanders through the village of Canford Magna, with its thatched cottages and 1,000 year-old church, towards Wimborne. On long summer days the spacious beer garden buzzes with people enjoying a refreshing pint of cask ale after a delightful riverside stroll, taking in the scent of sun-baked barley fields that fills the air.Read more...
Both Wimborne and Canford Magna are listed in the Domesday book of 1086. The latter probably dates all the way back to Saxon times, the name originating from Cana’s Ford. Canford is listed as Cheneford, the manor of Edward of Salisbury. By 1198, it belonged to William Longspee, a witness to the signing of the Magna Carta, and the illegitimate son of King Henry II, who was poisoned with arsenic-laced rat, which is now exhibited in the Museum of Salisbury.
The Canford Estate continued to pass through many hands, until it came into the possession of the Guests, a family of iron foundry magnates in 1848. In the late-1860s, over 100 cottages were built at the behest of Lady Charlotte Guest, for the provision of the Estate’s workers. Known locally as Lady Wimborne Cottages, they are distinguished by their distinctive coats of arms and date plaques, and there is one such example still standing at the bottom left corner of Fox Lane, just yards from The Fox and Hounds.
Wimborne itself, meanwhile, is perhaps most famous for its Minster, the towers of which greet you on the horizon, whichever direction you enter the village. The church was established as a monastery in Saxon times, though only the central tower and nave survive. The current building really came to fruition in the 12th century, when it was rebuilt by the Normans. It contains the UK’s second-largest chained library – where books are available for reading yet chained to the bookshelf – comprising books on topics as varied as building, etiquette, gardening, law and medicine.
Whilst it’s difficult to date The Fox and Hounds precisely, its half-hipped thatch roof and eyebrow dormers indicate that it was established around the late 18th- or early 19th century. Whether it was built to be an inn is debatable, but certainly by the 1840s it is recorded as such on maps of the local area. And like today it has always been surrounded by farms and fields, the River Stour flowing behind it towards the old Canford Manor.
Follow Fox Lane eastwards from The Fox and Hounds and you’ll arrive at the old gatehouse to Canford Manor. Since the 1920s the house has been home to Canford School – one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious boarding schools – whose former pupils include conservationist David Sheldrick, film director and activist Derek Jarman and the Booker-Prize winning novelist Alan Hollinghurst. Look out for the main tower, which was built by Sir Charles Barry, son of the architect of the Houses of Parliament.
The Fox and Hounds makes a great starting point for some of the picturesque walks in the area. Heading out of the inn, and south-west along the River Stour brings you to the Stour Valley Way, a dedicated 64-mile long footpath that follows more or less the entire course of the river. The walk offers a real sense of the history of the area, from the old 19th-century turnstile, to the ornately-carved, mid-Victorian railway bridge that once led to Canford Manor, and the mini suspension bridge that takes you – one person at a time – over the placid waters of the Stour. Keep your eyes peeled along the way for the abundant butterflies, especially Peacocks, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells and Speckled Woods.
There are lovely examples of Dorset’s magnificent countryside just a short distance away from The Fox and Hounds, by car too. 5 miles north-east lies Holts Heath Nature Reserve, where the ancient woodland and healthland is known to be a breeding site for birds including the Dartford Warbler, Hobby, Nightjar and Woodlark. A little further in the opposite direction meanwhile, sits Kingston Lacy, where walkers can wander the immaculate formal gardens, colourful heathland and water meadows, or peruse paintings by Brueghel, Rubens, Van Dyck and Titian inside the lavish mansion itself.
Whether exploring the history of the local area, or getting out and about into Dorset’s rolling hills, chalk downlands and rare heathlands, The Fox and Hounds is a great place to stop-off, or to start your adventure. With an ever-changing menu of traditional pub classics and sumptuous Sunday Roasts, you can be sure your visit will be one of the highlights of your time in the area.Show less...