The Kingham Plough
Spoilt for Choice
These days Kingham is known for being a hot-spot for foodies. The British culinary scene has matured hugely in the past 20 years and Kingham has been part of that development in the Cotswolds. English village pubs have always been a central part of life, most villages had at least one, if not two, thriving pubs or Inns (the distinction being that Inns had rooms). Many pubs in this area had bowling alleys which was a popular past time throughout the last century but have sadly been knocked down and redeveloped (as is the case at The Chequers in Churchill) or turned into dining rooms as the money has moved from drinking to dining (as is the case at The Kingham Plough). Food in Kingham includes The Wild Rabbit but there’s so much to say about the two pubs they deserve a blog each!
The Kingham Plough
History of The Kingham Plough
Located on the village green, The Kingham Plough was one such traditional pub, known as a ‘spit and sawdust’ pub. Yellow nicotine stained walls, thick red velvet curtains, sawdust on the floor and a bowling alley next to the bar to keep the punters ordering drinks and an atmosphere that was not conducive to women and children. The pub also hosted an Aunt Sally, a very niche Oxfordshire game of hitting the effigy of a woman’s head off a spike with sticks. I can’t imagine why it’s not still a common past time.
However, times change and in 2007 Emily Watkins bought the pub with her business partner Adam Dorian-Smith (of Tresco fame). Friends since Bristol University, they were a formidable team of catering expertise and property development. Having spent a long time looking for the ideal location it turned out to be near Emily’s family and so provided good local support as well as the easy access from London which helps entice a steady stream of reviewers out to keep a business in the marketeers eye.
The team gutted the building and created a chic rustic vibe with open log fires, the original bar stools covered in hessian (with the old red velvet poking through in no time), antique tables and benches. The old bowling alley was turned into a new dining room. The clincher was, of course, the food.
Emily Watkins spent her formative culinary years in Italy choosing to work her way up through the kitchens of Europe rather than take on a conventional business role after university. Eventually moving from the kitchens of Ristorante Beccofino in Florence to Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray in 2002, she left in 2005 to work as a private chef before purchasing Th Kingham Plough.
Emily worked incredibly hard in the kitchen of The Kingham Plough but somehow found time to keep the momentum of the business going by raising her profile and thus that of the pub. Emily featured on The Hairy Bikers, Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food as well as winning the BBC’s Regional Great British Menu in 2014, writing articles and making other guest chef appearances.
Having firmly established herself on the gastro pub scene, winning a Michelin Bib-Gourmand and within a hairs breadth of a Michelin Star (trust us, we were there and yes we are biased!) Emily married long standing boyfriend Miles Lampson. They choose to host their celebrations in the garden behind the pub and in – what seemed like no time – they had four children, adorning the pub walls with beautiful baby pics of them all.
In early 2019 Emily decided to sell the pub, having been living part time in Dorset at Miles’ family home, yet still running The Kingham Plough they handed the reins over to Matt and Katie Beamish.
A new chapter
So, in 2019 when the world looked calm and round, Matt and Katie Beamish took on a long lease at The Kingham Plough. With years of experience having previously worked with the likes of Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver and Fergus Henderson they moved their young family to neighboring Churchill and opened the doors again with warm smiles, warm hearth and warm hearts. They re-vamped the website, the menu and the bar and then lo and behold 2020 struck. It couldn’t have been worse timing but the community rallied round and they put themselves at the heart of the action by doing grocery boxes, take-aways and whatever it took to keep the business afloat and the locals in chips. A long standing community relationship was affirmed and re-affirmed, clearly to good effect because the brave souls expanded!
The Milton Hare
Although not in Kingham I can’t mention Matt and Kate Beamish without mentioning the new lease they took on in the summer of 2020 (people, just think about that!) at The Milton Hare. Knowing they had good local support and a knack for spotting a business opportunity they now run The Milton Hare, where we have no doubt they are as much at the heart of the community as they are at The Kingham Plough.
The Kingham Plough
So, what can you expect at The Kingham Plough when you visit Kingham Cottages? Of course a warm welcome, outstanding food and fabulous wine list all come as standard. Should you want to celebrate a special occasion or have a particularly big party there’s plenty of space to accommodate your needs with some fun and innovative approaches to group dining from sharing platters to feast style dishes.