Could a north Yorkshire village be prettier? Generously wide main street trimmed with perfect verges. Check. Pantile-roofed cottages with, yes, roses round the door.
Check. Parish church at the head overlooking magnificent Shandy Hall (home to Laurence Sterne who wrote A Sentimental Journey here). Check and check. The fact that there’s a terrific pub is icing on an already nicely iced cake. Sitting slightly back off the main road, cobbles out front, the 17th-century Fauconberg’s handsome exterior draws you in.
No Farrow & Ball makeover here, rather an unfashionable but supremely comfortable mish-mash of battered oak settles, chintz-covered armchairs, hyacinths in bowls, wall-to-wall horse brasses and a sense of coming home. Dogs snuffle round your feet, a coal fire glows, clocks tick.
I can’t tell you how many gussied up boozers I’ve visited in the last year, and it’s an absolute treat to rock up in a genuine, old-skool pub, just like they used to be before designers ruled the world and ‘statement’ wallpaper found favour. When the Rheinberg family hove by in 2006 and rescued a closed local, they knew what they were doing. They didn’t mess with it. Just enhanced what was there.
And the menu matches. Robust, classic pub grub choices include prawn cocktail (no irony, just the real deal as you would have enjoyed in a Beefeater circa 1980) and The Fauconberg Pie, one of the best I’ve encountered in some time. It’s home-made with short crust pastry (a puff pastry top isn’t a pie, just an excuse for one) and comes with dark, rich gravy and chips. On the pumps you’ll find well-kept beer from Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales, Theakstons, Rudgate Brewery and unusually, draught cider from Orchards of Husthwaite.
The Fauconberg Arms, Coxwold, North Yorkshire, YO61 4AD. 01347 868214, www.fauconbergarms.com. Open all day, seven days a week.