A VILLAGE pub on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border, which cost more to refurbish than to buy 18 months ago, is turning out to be worth its weight in gold.

The Baiting House at Upper Sapey, near Martley, has just been awarded the prestigious two AA rosettes for its food and an AA four star silver award for accommodation less than nine months after it opened.

Villagers Andrew Corthwaite and his wife Kate Lane acquired the pub in October 2015 and embarked on a major make-over including extending the bar and creating a restaurant and terrace/outdoor eating area.

The aim was to provide a village pub which offered good quality food and a small number of luxury en-suite bedrooms.

Andrew said: “We are local people and I have lived in the village for five years. My wife’s family goes back further. The village pub was not that good and it closed. We have seen a number of villages with no shop, no pub and no school.

“We bought the pub in October 2015 and we reopened it in May. We had to re-plumb, rewire and do various things with the kitchen. It cost more to refurbish than to buy it.”

The owners also appointed Tim Lawson as general manager and Charles Bradley, formerly of Michelin starred restaurant Mr Underhills in Ludlow, took over as head chef. “I did have a very strong sense of what I wanted to do with it,” said Andrew.

And the refurbished pub has proved a great success with local people and visitors.

Andrew added: “Last year I inquired with the AA about what we would have to do to qualify for a rosette. They said they would be in touch and would not do anything before Christmas. About two weeks ago one of their inspectors came unannounced.

“We were hoping to get a rosette because the food is quite good. A lot of places have taken two or three years to get one and then work towards two rosettes.

“We were striving for it but we thought it would take two years. We are over the moon. The rooms side of things has gone really well too. In the summer we could let the rooms three times.”

The AA explained that around 10 per cent of restaurants nationwide are of a standard worthy of one rosette and above. Under the AA award guidelines, two rosettes credit “excellent restaurants that aim for and achieve higher standards and better consistency”.

The two-rosette rating also awards “greater precision” in cooking and “obvious attention” to the selection of "quality ingredients”. Only around half a dozen establishments have the coveted two rosette award in the county of Herefordshire.

Andrew praised his staff for their work in achieving the accolades. “We are very proud of the level of skill and dedication of our team of chefs led by Charles Bradley. For a small family-owned inn to be awarded two rosettes is amazing.”

“The bar and accommodation side of the business, run by Tim Lawson, has also been recognised by the AA inspectors with a four star Silver award, which mirrors the four star rating given to our accommodation by Visit England late in 2016. Tim and his team have done an amazing job in providing a consistently warm welcome to guests.”

The business is set for significant expansion in the summer with the opening of The Lodges at the Baiting House – eight detached wooden lodges in a meadow setting, set back from the pub itself yet only a few minutes’ walk away. Each lodge will have its own kitchen, bathroom, terrace with barbecue and many will have hot tubs. They will sleep two to six people.