There are plenty of pubs called The Castle in the UK. But, as far as we are aware, Edgehill, on the Oxfordshire and Warwickshire border, is the only place that can boast a pub that is a castle.

For more than 250 years, the impressive eight-sided tower has overlooked the field where the English Civil War started.

It was built to mark the centenary of the Roundheads and Cavaliers going to battle and it has been trading as a pub for most of the last two centuries.

Last year the business was fortified with new licensees Mark Higgs and Claire Cooper taking on the Hook Norton tenancy and overseeing a £300,000 modernisation project.

It closed for three months, but not long after re-opening it was winning awards with CAMRA and English Heritage praising the sensitive redesign.

Mark says: "It was a huge project but I had worked with the brewery at another pub (The Carpenters Arms in Lower Boddington, Northamptonshire) and we could both see the potential in the site.

"It was tired and needed some love but it did have some good trading days and we knew with the right design and investment it would do well."

The works included removing a toilet block that took up much of the trading area and relocating the former island bar to a back wall to open up more space, which revealed a previously hidden spiral staircase. The toilets have been moved downstairs, while further up the turret you will find letting rooms and another room available for receptions and private hire.

Improvements to the garden have also helped attract walkers and cyclists to enjoy the pub and views that stretch across several counties. The pub stands 700ft above sea level and on a clear day it is said you can see the foothills of the Welsh mountains.

James Clarke, managing director of Hook Norton (pictured above right with Mark), explains: "We wanted to maximise the space and have rooms with a slightly different feel. There's the balcony with stunning views, a dining room and one that feels more like a library.

Having those zones helps you to be more of a chameleon throughout the day."

Mark and Claire have created an offer to suit, upping the standard of food and organising a programme of events including an open-air cinema and garden parties. Like many contemporary pubs it has transformed into a multi-purpose venue and is already proving to be a success.

James adds: "It's an iconic site and with the view and the garden there was great potential. We are already seeing volume growth. They are very good with the food and environment and that attracts the drinkers, so the net result has been growth."

Mark says the pub is exceeding expectations, which has created "positive stress".

One challenge is that of staff training. "I am hugely pleased with how it is going and we have got to keep evolving," he says. "Staff is the big thing.

"We are bringing in staff training manuals and buddy systems. They have a tick list so they can do everything such as bar work, changing the barrel, making a sandwich. Being multi-purpose is hugely important in this day and age."

All of which means this castle should be a home from home for locals and tourists for many years to come.


1642 – The first major battle of the English Civil War takes place in Edgehill on October 23

1742 – Work starts on the construction of The Castle to mark the centenary of the battle. It is said to mark the spot where King Charles raised the standard before battle commenced

1750 – Building is complete and The Castle initially becomes a home overlooking the former battlefield

1822 – The Castle is run as a pub for the first time

1922 – Hook Norton brewery takes on the pub

1992 – Major refurbishment works include the construction of a bridge from the tower to the gatehouse

2014 – Mark Higgs and Claire Cooper become the new tenants. They embark on a £300,000 project with Hook Norton to renovate the Castle.

2015 – The reopened Castle picks up CAMRA and English Heritage Pub Design Awards for Conservation and Refurbishment