Great British Boltholes: 250-year-old Cambridgeshire pub refurbished with a modern twist to please both humans and hounds (there’s even a dog menu)
- The Carpenters Arms now has a wraparound glass extension which has created a spacious new dining area
- Post-facelift interiors include marble countertops and lime green leather benches
- There are only four bedrooms, each named after a type of carpentry shop, and dogs are specifically welcome.
On the A11 through Cambridgeshire I’ve often noticed signs for The Wilbrahams and imagined a welcoming family ready to welcome weary travelers with a drink and maybe a bed for the night.
In reality, the Wilbrahams are two villages, Great and Little, both dating from the Bronze Age and separated by the Little Wilbraham River. And the place to be for hospitality is the Carpenters Arms.
The 250 year old pub has recently been refurbished and a spacious new dining area has been created with a wrap around glass extension.
Lizzie Enfield has checked into The Carpenters Arms in Cambridgeshire which has recently been refurbished
The addition of a wraparound glass extension in the pub has created a spacious new dining area, Lizzie reveals
Lizzie explains that the pub’s 18th-century origins can be seen in the low wooden beams in the older part of the building
Interiors consist of hardwood floors, marble-topped tables, orange and lime-green leather banquettes, and upholstered houndstooth-patterned chairs. A row of floor-to-ceiling silver birch branches prevents falls on the slope leading past the bar.
It is a far cry from its 18th-century origins, as evidenced by the low wooden beams in the older part of the building and the large stone fireplace in the original bar. Here you can enjoy a Suffolk Adnams Pint or Newmarket Gin before dinner.
The menu is more traditional but has a modern twist, drawing mostly from the surrounding Fenlands and Coast.
We ate Cromer crab tarts and Cambridge asparagus, followed by grilled Suffolk lamb with ratatouille and roasted romanesco cauliflower with kidney beans and pickled raisins.
There are only four rooms in the pub, “all named after some sort of carpenters’ association”.
Lizzie stayed in Mortise, “a double (or twin) bedroom painted a chalk blue with a headboard with bright Crewel embroidery, matching blinds and a dark velvet chair with button at the back”.
After the renovation, Lizzie says, the pub’s interior is “all wood floors, marble-topped tables, orange and lime green leather banquettes, and upholstered houndstooth chairs.”
The menu is “more traditional but contemporary, drawing primarily from the surrounding Fenlands and Coast”.
Fresh bungay cream complemented the strawberries and Fen Farm Mascarpone the chocolate torte for dessert.
There are only four rooms, all named after a type of carpentry. We stayed in Mortise, a double (or twin) room painted chalk blue with a headboard with bright circular embroidery, matching blinds and a dark velvet chair with buttons at the back. The paneled bathroom with exposed beams featured a powerful walk-in shower.
In addition to Cambridge, historic Ely and Saffron Walden, there are many walks near the Fenland. On our bed we found a printed ‘Wellington Boot Wander’ that took us across the old Wilbraham Common and through Fulbourn Fen, a nature reserve home to chiffchaff and great spotted woodpeckers.
Dogs are not only welcome at Carpenters Arms – they are strongly encouraged, with a bed, bowl, dog towel and tennis ball to take with you. There is even a dog menu.
We opt for the human breakfast in the jewel pink and turquoise breakfast room: a selection of fresh fruit, muesli, baked muffins and trout smoked in the chalk stream.
Actually, the very breakfast my imaginary Wilbraham family would have served.