In 1777 Charles Hall, a Dorset farmer, lived with his family in the Fox Inn which was then known as Broadclose. He began turning his excess grain into beer and founded the Ansty Brewery, providing beer to General Clinton’s troops who were stationed on the south coast before being shipped to America.
The first century of the company’s history is recorded in Ansty, notably as the place where Edward Woodhouse became Partner in 1845, resulting in the company name Hall & Woodhouse. It was also where the Badger logo (one of the world’s oldest trademarks) was established in 1875. The family moved their brewing facilities to Blandford St Mary in 1888 and, shortly after, Edward’s three sons George, Alfred and Frank, made Hall & Woodhouse a limited company.
While the business continued to innovate in beer and pubs, the Fox Inn changed ownership several times. Although remaining a public house, Hall & Woodhouse sold the property in 1972, later bringing it back into the estate in 1996. The family refurbished the pub for the reopening with the aim of making it a place for both locals and visitors to enjoy. The Fox Inn has since been run by several Business Partners, each bringing a unique twist to the offer. However, Hall & Woodhouse’s heritage still remains grounded in the foundations of the pub
With a strong background in hospitality and the pub trade, Paul and Angela took on the Fox Inn as Business Partners in October 2016. Following a whirlwind start, they worked with Hall & Woodhouse on a refurbishment for the reopening in March of this year. The front of house and function rooms have been transformed into a stylish and homely setting, capturing the Hall & Woodhouse history and culture. The house is now filled with original Woodhouse family photos, a heartland map of Dorset, the Hall & Woodhouse family tree and Badger branding, all showcasing the magnitude of its history.
The Fox Inn prides itself on offering a traditional menu consisting of locally-sourced produce, including vegetables from their own pub garden. Their regular food offering includes a traditional Sunday Carvery, Steak Nights, Takeaway Pizza and Afternoon Tea, providing their guests with plenty of choice. As the original home of Badger Beer, Paul and Angela see the importance of providing an extended range of beers; the pub now offers the full range of Badger bottled beer, the core cask ales and seasonal ales.
Paul and Angela recognise the true potential of marketing the pub’s unique selling points (its history together with its location), and both envision the pub becoming an experience-led business. As they understand the importance of listening to guests as well as market trends, Paul and Angela have plans to reach out to their wider community and grow their guest database through a range of marketing initiatives. The couple will be working with digital agency, UNBXD, to build their online presence, and will be focusing on the accommodation element of their offering to attract guests from further afield. Once they’ve obtained a broader knowledge of their market, Paul and Angela are looking to hold events and tours, and to also partner with local businesses