Just 2 miles from the centre of Chelmsford, flanked on all sides by endlessly undulating fields, The Horse & Groom offers a warm, rural village welcome and a delicious menu of traditional pub classics to people taking advantage of the lovely countryside walks that surround it.
Standing proudly on an old coaching road, with its sage green and whitewashed façade, The Horse & Groom is a 19th-century inn, surrounded by rolling arable fields. Located on the edge of the pretty village of Writtle, it’s just two miles from bustling Chelmsford, and close to the rural Essex villages of Chignal St James and Broomfield, as well as the historic Hylands Park House and Estate.
In the early 1900s, Writtle was described as “one of the loveliest villages in England, with a ravishing variety of ancient cottages”, by the historical writer, A.R Hope-Moncrieff. And on long summer evenings, when a deep pink-orange sunset casts its warm glow across the cheery drinkers in the lovely beer garden, it’s easy to see why. In the distance, walkers make their weary way across the fields behind the pub, looking forward to a refreshing pint of cask ale and a warm welcome. Even in winter, the inn attracts patrons from all across the county, drawn in by the promise of a delicious pub meal under the old oak beams, or in front of the crackling log fires.
With its many Grade I listed and pretty timber-framed houses, Writtle village is a popular stop-off for walkers and cyclists following the bridle-paths and tracks that surround it. On sunny days, the local green is abuzz with people feeding the eager mouths of mallards, moorhens, coots and swans in the duck pond, while others watch the world go by under the shade of the ancient willow trees.Read more...
While it’s hard to date the Horse & Groom precisely, it is known that the oldest parts of the pub were established in the early 1900s. Some say these parts may once have belonged to an old granary, and though it’s difficult to corroborate this, certainly the old oak beams still in place, lend this old inn a charmingly rural feel. Writtle was at one time a very wealthy part of the country. Its appearance in the Domesday Book of 1086 records it as having a population of 945... compared to Chelmsford’s meagre population of just 20! It is also recorded as being a Royal Manor, and indeed there is still evidence of the Royal Hunting Lodge, including its old moat, within the grounds of Writtle College, the famous agricultural institution.
The Lodge was built during the reign of King John, and records show that both Henry III and Edward II stayed there. It was situated on Lawford Lane (not even a minute’s walk from The Horse & Groom), now a bridle path but known in 1292 as the ‘King’s Highway’, running from Chelmsford, through Writtle and on to London. A large market and fair were probably held behind St. John’s Green for many years. You can see part of the old ‘barras’, a defensive ditch and bank around the Green designed to keep wild animals at bay and protect livestock, at the top of St. Johns Road, behind the Green.
The history of the village can be traced back even further, too. Roman bricks were used in the construction of All Saints Church by the green, and two Roman burial urns were unearthed in the old vicarage garden, now home to the Writtle Bowling Club. Two miles away from The Horse & Groom meanwhile, stands the historic Hylands Park House Estate, with its magnificent grounds, designed by the famed landscape architect, Humphrey Repton. Built in 1730 by Sir John Comyns, a well-respected local judge and MP, it’s perhaps most famous today for hosting the world-famous names of rock and pop, during V Festival.
It’s well worth the five minute drive from The Horse & Groom, in particular for the wonderful views: of the garden from the Repton Room inside the house, and of the house itself, which you can marvel at in all its neo-classical splendour from countless vantage points around the stunning gardens. The Horse & Groom provides the perfect starting point for many of the lovely trails and cycle routes through the arable countryside, including the popular Centenary Circle, which follows ancient green lanes, crosses the River Chelmer, and offers panoramic views across open fields. And of course, the pub is an easy drive from Chelmsford, with its 15th-century cathedral – the second smallest in Britain – popular museums and 1,500 acres of Green Flag parkland.
Whether you’re stopping off for a delicious Sunday lunch with all the trimmings, or coming to put your feet up after a long day’s walking, the Horse & Groom offers freshly prepared traditional pub food, with regular seasonal specials. Dine al fresco in the sunny beer garden, or indoors beside the cosy log fires... either way you’re sure to leave satisfied at the Horse & Groom.Show less...