Pub in Surrey Hills named best in UK

The Running Horses in Mickleham has scooped the National Awards honour.

A 16th century pub sat at the foot of the Surrey Hills has been named as the best in the UK, after it won the top title at the 2023 National Pub & Bar Awards.

The Running Horses in Mickleham was named the National Pub & Bar of the Year at the annual event on Wednesday 28 June, after judges commended the venue for its top-quality food and drink, meticulous attention to detail, and first-class hospitality.

Run by Manu Bhatt and Richard Brown, operators of the Little & Large Pub Company, the pub is owned by Brakspear and went through a transformative two-month refurbishment nearly two years ago. Under the experienced eyes of Bhatt and Brown, the pub’s reputation has since been lifted to the point of national recognition.    

“Every single day, we’re trying to put on the best possible experience for all of our guests,” says Brown. “It is so nice to be recognised for the authentic hospitality that every member of our team delivers on a daily basis. That is what matters the most. For this award to acknowledge that is amazing, because we are perfectionists.”

Situated in the Surrey village of Mickleham, the pub is located at the bottom of Box Hill, a popular attraction for walkers and cyclists. Through centuries of modernisation, The Running Horses has stayed true to its roots, with 16th century touches featuring throughout the venue.

As well as a traditional bar area that serves perfectly kept beers and wines, the pub also boasts a glass-ceilinged restaurant, offering fresh, seasonal menus. There are also eight ensuite bedrooms upstairs. 

The Running Horses is one of three sites within the Little & Large Pub Company’s portfolio, operated by Bhatt and Brown alongside The Queen’s Head in neighbouring town Dorking and The Talbott in south east London’s Brockley.

The Mickleham site was also one of 15 pubs to be named as the best in its Region, as 94 county-winning venues gathered at 30 Euston Square in London to celebrate some of the leading businesses in the industry.

Every year, the National Pub & Bar Awards brings together 94 pubs and bars from across the UK, each one having been awarded the title for the best in its county. From these, 15 Regional Winners are announced (see below) before the unveiling of the National Winner.

The 2023 National Pub & Bar Awards also saw four other accolades handed out. Pub Chef of the Year went to Chris Fordham-Smith from The Barley Mow in Mayfair; The Beech House scooped Pub Brand of the Year; BrewDog Waterloo was named Bar Brand of the Year; while the Heineken UK Sustainable Pub of the Year went to The Tollemache Arms in Harrington.

The National Pub & Bar Awards 2023 was sponsored by Heineken, ICRTouch, Kerrymaid, Lamb Weston, Loomis, Majestic Commercial, Mission Foods, Schweppes and Value for Venues.

The National Pub & Bar Awards 2023 Winners

See all the National Pub and Bar Awards 2023 County Winners on a map.

Shepherd Neame reopens Carshalton pub

A community celebration marked the official reopening of Shepherd Neame’s Windsor Castle in Carshalton on 21 June.

The traditional pub, which has been serving locals since 1860, has just undergone a £300,000 refurbishment, and regulars and supporters gathered to raise a glass to its continued success.

The pub in Carshalton High Street has been fully redecorated inside and out, including its spacious bar and restaurant, and the beer garden has also enjoyed a refresh ahead of what is likely to be a busy summer season.

The pub has also re-introduced food, offering a fresh new menu to complement its selection of great ales and beers.

Shepherd Neame’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Neame, joined the pub team, led by new General Manager Isabelle Hendley, in raising a glass to the latest chapter in the Windsor Castle’s long history.

He was joined by regular Den Forster, who has been a regular at the pub for 25 years, who pulled the first official pint – which was also the first time he had ever pulled a pint himself!

Den, who attended with his wife Sandie, said: “There are an awful lot of pubs in Carshalton and I pass four to get to this one from my house. I used to walk here but these days I have to get the bus.”

During the evening, Dave Hobday, Chief Executive of Sutton Mencap, who attended with members of staff and service users, was presented with a cheque for £1,000 to help support the group’s work to improve the lives of local people with a learning disability, and their carers.

Jonathan Neame said: “Pubs like the Windsor Castle are at the very heart of what we do at Shepherd Neame – offering a great experience for our customers, with great surroundings, service, and, above all, great beer.

“We are proud to have been associated with the Windsor Castle for more than a decade and we look forward to many more years serving the community of Carshalton.”

Live music during the evening was provided by local singer Tom Johnson.

Following the recent refurbishment of the exterior, the pub now has a new swing sign, and the previous one was presented to Cara Jones, whose late grandfather, Vic Eve, had painted it. Receiving it from Chief Executive Jonathan Neame, she said: “It is going to have pride of place in my outdoor bar, which is a bit of a memorial to him as he loved to be out there gardening.”

The pub now offers a delicious selection of light bites such as house nachos and a Ploughman’s Plate, and classic dishes with a contemporary and vibrant twist, using locally sourced produce, and pizzas using dough freshly proved and individually hand stretched to order. 

There is also an extensive range of drinks also on offer, from Shepherd Neame’s award-winning range of ales and lagers to premium wines and spirits.

It has a courtyard area and garden which Isabelle expects to be in full use this summer, and also boasts a popular function space, the Cottage Room, which can accommodate up to 60 guests, with its own bar and facilities.

Isabelle, who joined as General Manager last month, is almost a local herself, having started her hospitality career at Shepherd Neame’s Woolpack pub in Banstead, just four miles away, where she met her fiancé, Arturs Peksejevs, who is also leading the kitchen team at the Windsor Castle as Head Chef. The couple are due to wed next year.

She said: “It is a really traditional pub, with a loyal customer base. We want to build on that.”

You can find the Windsor Castle at 378 Carshalton Road, Carshalton, Surrey, SM5 3PT. Visit to find out more or call 020 8669 1191.

LOYA 2023 Winners

We are utterly delighted to share that the winners of Licensee of the Year 2023 are Joe Buckley and Flo Pearce from The Tollemache Arms, Harrington

Previous finalists, and also awarded BII Ambassadors and Sustainability Champions at this years’ Summer Event, Joe and Flo have demonstrated outstanding commitment to customer experience, community spirit, sustainability and so much more in their destination pub.

Well worth paying them a visit if you’re ever nearby.

Our huge congratulations to Joe, Floe and all the team at The Tolly!

📷 – BII

English Wine Week

Today marks the start of 2023’s English Wine Week, an annual celebration of all things English wine!

There are more and more great English winemakers out there these days, but it doesn’t get much better than the brilliant Chapel Down. With their winery based in Kent, Chapel Down produces an award-winning range of sparkling and still wines.

If you fancy a proper celebration down your local, then their best-selling English Brut is a classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc. A very approachable style of fizz with a lively refreshing mousse, good depth, and crisp fruit character – we think it’s the perfect introduction to English wines!

Here’s to English Wine Week, all the fabulous people who make them and all the fantastic pubs that sell them!

📷 – Chapel Down Group