Farmer Stuart Kirkham has been a regular at The Goodmanham Arms more years than most of us have been born. He’s now 88 years of age and recalls vividly how much this country village pub in the Yorkshire Wolds has played such an important part in his life.
“I was born up the road in Cranswick and still farm at Goodmanham Dale. It is a mixed arable and sheep farm. I bought my first pig with money I earned from my dad by holding ponies and traps outside the pub. I was about 10 years old at the time, so it must have been around 1935.
“There were no wagons in those days and so we used to have drovers arrive at the farm. We would bring our stock to be sold to the farm gate and the drover would count the sheep or whatever we had and take them to the market at Market Weighton.
“On the way back from attending market, dad would come to the pub. He used to spend a couple of hours here playing dominoes with his farmer friends and talk business. I would stay outside and earn sixpence a time holding the pony and trap. Dad used to bring out a lemonade and a bag of crisps for me.”
Stuart has been around for all the changes to the Goodmanham Arms over the years, remembers when the bar was positioned in the corner of the pub and is in no doubt that the hostelry is currently in the best shape since he was in his youth.
“This was always a lovely, thriving little pub and I never thought I’d ever see it get back to how it used to be. It’s the best pub in Yorkshire. You’ll never find another one like this.”
And it’s not just Stuart who feels that way. The pub has won the title Best Village Pub in the East Riding from CAMRA for the past two years and was surprisingly full even on a Monday afternoon in February earlier this week.
Vito and Abbie Loggozi took over the pub three years ago after it had been under the ownership of a local family for the past three generations.
During the last 36 months the husband and wife team have not just earned the respect of their fellow villagers they have also reopened the dormant micro brewery that is situated just across the courtyard. Abbie is the master brewer and has the assistance of local man Peter Uttley and the couple’s son Zak.
“When we bought the pub the brewery didn’t come with it,” says Vito. “We then purchased it, tidied it up and got the equipment back to the standard it was supposed to be. Abbie is a technician pharmacist and a very good baker. There is a saying that if you are good at baking you can brew as well, because everything has to be spot on and consistent.”
“Abbie has brewed three excellent beers that we sell in the pub alongside our selection of cask ales and guest beers. One is Peg Fyfe. It is a dark mild. It is named after a 17th century witch who was hanged on Gallows Hill between the village and Market Weighton. Abbie also came up with Ragged Robyn, a ruby five per cent premium beer. That was named after Peg’s lover who she murdered and reputedly skinned alive!
“Abbie’s other brew is our session beer Mischief Maker. It is smooth with dry hops that give a roasted taste.”
The brewery, originally known as Goodmanham, is now called All Hallows after the church and a row of cottages.
“Goodmanham dates back to Pagan days. Prior to All Hallows being built this village was the site of the chief pagan temple in Northumbria.”
Vito moved from Lucania in South East Italy when he was 17 and next year he will have lived in the UK for 30 years. He first worked in an Italian restaurant in Birmingham but his love of the typical English country pub developed quickly. He and Abbie ran pubs in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds before returning to Abbie’s homeland of the East Riding in 2007.
“We didn’t jump into running another pub straight away. I spent three years restoring old motorbikes that we’re hoping to turn into a museum here soon. We came here for a drink and when we found out it was up for sale we decided to go for it.”
“This kind of pub usually doesn’t come on to the market but Bobbie, the previous landlady, was looking to sell and we were in the right place at the right time.
“We really enjoy it here because Yorkshire folk are more friendly, it’s a great place to live and people drink more than they do in Bourton on the Water!”
“This is a village country pub. We don’t have TVs or pool tables, juke boxes or games machines. We open all day every day. The only time we close is on Christmas Day evening.”
Vito takes great pride in their food and its preparation.
“We don’t buy anything in; we make everything here from the chips to the pies.
“We specialise very much in English and Italian farmhouse meals. We put the spit over the fire for a hog roast on a Sunday and use Victorian cast iron pots for cooking on the fire too.
“Today we cooked sausage with pork and cider. Our beef comes from the popular Givendale herd nearby. It is really nice and tender.”
Atmosphere on tap
Entering The Goodmanham Arms is a little like stepping back in time. Beamed ceilings, open fires, quiet corners. It would have made a great set for when the TV series All Creatures Great & Small was being filmed. It is a real old-time country pub that provides a great atmosphere.
It also hosts music nights of all kinds and regular beer festivals, the next of which takes place over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.