West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2023 “Pub Garden of the Year “ award has been won by the highly coveted White Lion at Bourton in the far north of the county near Gillingham.
The pub scored top marks in an independent judging survey by all West Dorset CAMRA members beating off stiff competition including previous winners.
The garden is a fine example of a traditional English garden with fine examples of roses including “The Princess Trust “& “Darcey Bussell” varieties which always catch the eye. Taking centre stage in the garden is a large pagoda style shelter which is dripping with “Harley Quinn” Wisteria which when in bloom is breath taking. The shelter also offers a stage for operas, plays and their “White stock” music festival. If you are miss-behaved in the garden there is even a set of stocks.
The garden is set on a hillside but terraced and has something for everyone from the patio with water feature, to the fine mowed lawns, a chicken and duck run for children to see and excellent disabled access from the car park with a disabled toilet at the front of the pub.
Publicans Stuart Knowles and William Smith who own The White Lion Inn, Bourton can always be found in the outside spaces of the pub. In November 2014 the Inn became a free house and marked the beginning of the transformation of the grounds, with new additions from the petanque piste in the front garden to the corkscrew shaped bay tree in the rear.
Stuart Knowles said” Our vision was to run a country village pub with our own style, where our guests can relax in the garden with a cool drink and quite literally smell the roses. Over the years we have set ourselves summer challenges to add to our interest in our outside rooms, this year we added a rose covered arch, always with advice from our locals. “
William Smith said” Life in the pub trade is stressful; our answer is to come outside into the garden and for a brief moment escape.” He went on to say “Our pot like our beer is frothing over, with colour and fragrances all year round. We also grow herbs which we use in our food.”
West Dorset CAMRA members ran a mini bus trip to present the award and branch Chairman Bruce Mead spoke highly of the care and attention to detail in the garden saying “The White Lion was a clear winner in our pub garden of the year competition, with all of the judges having it in first place. It was great to see the broad smiles on Stuart and William’s faces as they accepted the award, which is thoroughly deserved for all the hard work they have put into creating such a fantastic garden.”