The beautiful Grade II listed Royal Oak at Leighterton is thought to date from the 1700s and is described by BBC’s Doomsday Reloaded as “more likely a village pub than many in the Cotswolds”.
In recent years, the building has undergone extensive renovation which saw it carefully restored whilst ensuring that it stayed faithful to its origins.
Your hosts, Will and Kat, are proud to be the custodians of this quintessential English country pub, serving high quality locally sourced food, a range of great value wines, well-kept local and regional ales, ciders and perries all wrapped up in warm, convivial hospitality.
The Monarch’s Way – the 615 mile route that Charles II took when fleeing Parliamentary troops after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 – traverses Leighterton and passes right through the site of the Royal Oak. Ours is the only Royal Oak pub situated directly on the Monarch’s Way route.
The village’s ancient church – St. Andrews – dates from the 13th century and, in a nearby copse of trees, is a Neolithic burial mound, the oldest in the Cotswolds. The church’s cemetery is the resting place for Australians who were stationed at RAF Leighterton and who died during the First World War. The ANZAC Association hold an annual memorial in Leighterton.
Will was obsessed with all things mechanical since an early age, to the extent that he had learnt to operate excavators, tractors, and pretty much anything with an engine by the time he was 12! One year, after receiving a basic Halfords tool kit for Christmas, he spent many an hour taking apart and rebuilding anything mechanical that he could get his hands on, in order to figure out how it all worked.
After he left school, he turned his attention to all things cars, using his first car to learn how to strip and rebuild every component, right down to the bare engine internals. He then went on to study Motor Sport engineering before being offered a position with an historic motor racing team.
Will was involved all aspects of preparation, logistics and race support of the eye-wateringly valuable vintage racing cars. The cars competed at all the iconic race tracks across Europe, including Monza, Spa, Monaco and the Nürburgring. He even transported the cars personally, including several historic Lotus JPS F1 cars, to the circuits in the fleet of team race trucks. Never under estimate the value of an HGV 1 licence!
After his time in the world of motor sport, he decided that a more sociable career in the hospitality industry was the way to go and spent several years working in, and then managing, one of Shropshire’s most successful independently owned pubs. This proved to be invaluable experience for the future. During his time in the business, the pub grew from a run-down “spit and sawdust boozer” to a hugely successful destination pub, whilst being true to its roots as a proper village Pub.
Will then spent five years in the food production industry, supplying the food retail sector. His customers included the likes of Harrods, Selfridges, Ocado and many of the country’s top independent delis & farm shops.
After all this, the idea of running his own a pub was still very much in the forefront of his mind. After meeting Kat, several key factors fell into place, the perfect pub became available which subsequently made the pipe dream a reality.
Kat originates from Ilkley, Yorkshire. She started her career in the family legal practice before leaving home and studying for a degree in psychology at Dundee University.
Upon completing her degree, she quickly realised that it was not what you know, but who you know in terms of finding that dream career. She worked for a legal firm in secretarial, administration and conveyancing roles and then, after meeting Will, she moved to Shropshire to work with Will in his food production company.
She became an enthusiastic cook, specialising in eastern and Asian cooking. She’s an excellent hostess and prides herself on making people feel welcome and relaxed.
Will has a vivid imagination and has a new (mostly off the wall) idea every five minutes. However, Kat is Will’s rock – she is all about the detail and she keeps him in check. When the prospect of running a pub came about, Kat quickly warmed to the idea, despite the fact she had never set foot behind a bar or served a plate of food to a customer before!
Whilst it was a daunting prospect for Kat, Will knew that she had all the qualities required of a pub landlady and knew that when she puts her mind to something, she does it very well. After months of preparation and research the button was pushed and she has proven herself in a very short amount of time. Kat takes pride in ensuring that every customer that visits The Royal Oak has an enjoyable experience.
Long may it continue!