Since the Iron Age weary travellers have taken rest along the Welsh Way on the journey to the old capital. By the 1300’s Barnsley was on this arterial link for the sheep trade between Wales and London and by the 1700’s the Cotswolds village boasted a renown pub and even allocated meadows for the travelling flocks. During his 200 year reign of the Estate, Brereton Bourchier is reputed to have built the high stone wall on the old frontage of Barnsley House to keep out the woolly marauders!
With a rich history of travel and trade, the only remaining Pub in the village has in 2022 been refurbished and renamed The Boot. The oldest parts of the building probably well and truly predate the 1600’s but by the 19th century it had evolved into a public house with rooms at the heart of an idyllic village encircled by lush grids of prime farmland and wooded lanes. The pub’s wobbly thickened walls of Cotswold’s stone topped with scaley lichened slate defy 300 years of English drizzle and ever abundant Spring times.
As a part of Timothy Oulton’s expansion into hospitality and the acquisition of Barnsley House Hotel in 2021, TO Studio has worked closely with the hospitality team to reimagine all aspects of the pub’s interiors, experience and branding, as a first stage in the overall refurbishment of the entire property. Fully operational, the new interiors had to be installed within a short four week closure. Still using our inhouse workshops for some key bespoke elements, the renovation predominately involved working closely with local trades and artisans along with careful curation of antiques from the Oulton’s own collection.
The first task was to pare back decades of modernisation and expose the real bones of the building. Inside, the plastered walls have been recoated with authentic lime paint, supplied by Francesca’s Paints. This matt-white wash contrasts with the raw timber and hewn stone structural details while at the same time providing a neutral backdrop for the extensive installation of antiques and curiosities. An exquisitely patinaed reclaimed Turkish oak floor has been laid throughout with hammered granite nosing’s, demarcating multiple level changes as told by centuries of dug out extension and reuse.
A glossy vermillion front door opens into an eclectic mix of old furniture, some new pieces designed by TO Studio, and a fascinating display of collectables. Locals and guests are first greeted by a carved timber figurehead beaming atop the aged copper bar. This drinking area has a small antique wing backed sofa upholstered in traditional floral tapestry, nestled under a blond tortoise shell. Leather studded chairs and a Tibetan bronze frog drum as table, are all centred around the fireplace, overhung by a 20 million year old Megalodon tooth, 4th century Gesso tiger head, and hand-painted blue porcelain plate. New copper topped drinking tables and dark stained stools by TO Studio stand to the right under a collection of 19th century architectural prints and hand marked sketches.
The adjacent room has deep windowsills displaying a collection of soft-hued Italian marble mortars, a bulldog, and blue pottery vases. The fireplace and mantel are hung with a metal bootmaker’s sign, an Ammonite fossil and Chinese porcelain jar, with long tables and trestle banquettes on each side topped in whiskey leather cushions. Vintage Thonet chairs and antique tables are mixed with new copper edged tables in rosa marble and aged leather Cliveden dining chairs from TO Studio. A very rare hand carved coat of arms hangs opposite a solid carved Indian ceremonial dish.
A large open stone hearth is the focus of the main dining room with a Hippopotamus skull hanging above the open fireplace below. Plush red velvet wingbacks, Thonets, and distressed leather Lannister chairs from TO Studio, mix with a range of antique tables and a 19th century wooden settle re-topped with a bucolic tapestried cushion. A collection of forty 19th century portrait etchings hang alongside machinery moulds, a model boat hull and a collection of large blue plates, some lit with silvered picture lights based on the original design from Blenheim Palace.
The bespoke copper topped standing tables with turned leg Robbin barstools.
Vintage furniture and new designs combine together for a cosy, textured vibe.
A step higher, eight very eclectic antique wooden chairs surround a 17th century scrubbed elm refectory table. Ideal for group dining, the walls feature a woven rope bomb mat aside a delicately inlayed bone and ebony mirror and adjacent, three original framed floor plans of the famous Queen Elizabeth liner that sank in Hong Kong harbour after surviving World War II as a critical troop transport ship. The timber wall lights have been hand made by TO Studio, with natural linen curtains dividing the space as necessary.
A few steps higher, the only space with no surviving historic features has been reimagined as The Carriage Room, a flexible and moody dining area for up to 10 patrons. Thick vegtan leather wall panels with stitched borders and authentic Harris Tweed pipping recall saddles and the visceral experience of horse drawn transportation. Antique brass carriage lights gently glow above a fitted blanketesque Harris Tweed banquette with dog pillows in Safari Tobacco leather underneath. Salvage timber bistro tables and comfortable distressed leather Lannister chairs all from TO Studio, can be easily reconfigured into a single large table for group dining.
Natural rattan and timber beadings have been used to re-clad the bathrooms with dark stained timber doors, cast shell lamps and a collection of antique wall mirrors creating a rustic elegance.
Overall, the project is a wholehearted celebration of the English country pub, bringing together real hospitality, quality local food and brewing with warm atmospheric interiors that reflect the local history of the village while also displaying the most eclectic and extensive collection of antiques and curiosities Studio has used on any project to date.
The chefs have created a menu of delicious seasonal food, cleverly showcasing the very best of local produce. TO’s CEO of Hospitality, Matthew Thomas, says “With Head Chef John Jewell, we have made a sustainable approach to the food, using the products of local farms and garden to table produce from our own award-winning gardens at Barnsley House. A large variety of real ales served in Wentworth pewter tankards captures the spirt of The Cotswolds”.
Externally the building has had all superfluous wiring and additions removed, with a hand beaten, locally made copper boot and hanging sign the only new installation. The rear entrance courtyard has been landscaped reflecting the local village style of juxtaposed clipped evergreens, which also links to the grander main hotel and Rosemary Verey’s famous garden at Barnsley House, a short stroll away. Liquorice stained timber furniture and stone topped tables are arranged under black umbrellas that encircle a reclaimed bronze melting pot, re-made as a fire pit.
TO Studio have integrated a range of printed collaterals around the themed boot logo and history of the area with old plans of the pub serving as room key folders and an etched hand coloured map of the Cotswolds as a bill folder. Food paper and coasters also use differing iterations of the logo to create a subtle yet cohesive layering of the rebranded pub.
“We wanted to do something that was iconic and interesting but also looked as if it had always been there. Luckily, we found local Donkeywell Forge, they were able to hand craft the copper boot and metal cut letters, the hanging sign fits perfectly with the stone and slate streetscape.” Simon Laws, Co-Founder.