The Gaggle of Geese, a gorgeous destination pub in Buckland Newton with an outstanding five acres of gardens, takes the crown for this week’s Pub of the Week.

We meet landlord Simon Colquhoun, who tells us more...

Landlord/landlady name:

Simon and Sarah Colquhoun

How long have you been the landlord/landlady?

The Gaggle was closed for several years. We bought it and refurbished it. It’s been open for just over two years now.

Why did you decide to run a pub?

We had very different careers before deciding to run a business together. We took on a struggling pub in Brighton and ran it for around five years. After having had a little boy, we had a rethink and decided to relocate to Dorset having seen the potential of the Gaggle of Geese. The Gaggle had been closed and neglected for a few years - it needed a full refurb inside and out. With the sense of goodwill and support from the Buckland Newton village community we felt the Gaggle was worth the investment and gamble!

Bournemouth Echo:

What is the history of the pub?

The Gaggle used to be called the Royal Oak and has been a pub for around 150 years. It was originally part of the Hall & Woodhouse portfolio of pubs before the freehold was sold in 1975. It became famous for its goose auctions and so changed its name to the Gaggle of Geese in the late 1970s. It was closed for a few years before reopening May 2018 following our refurbishment. It retains a skittle alley and some 5 acres of gardens, part of which is now used as a campsite with shepherd huts.

Bournemouth Echo:

What’s on the menu?

Yes, food served throughout the week (lunch & dinner). Food is made in-house by the chef team and focuses on pub classics such as pies, burgers, salads, fish & chips etc. Our Sunday Roasts are very popular. In the garden we also have a wood-fired pizza oven and BBQ shack. During lockdown we created a kitchen garden that is now helping to support the kitchen with homegrown produce.

Bournemouth Echo:

Tell us about your events

We love the community style events that we host at the Gaggle. These include the Buckland Newton Village Fete and the village fireworks on bonfire night. We also really enjoy hosting live music in the garden and have created an annual musical festival called Gaggle Fest Do you have an entertainment line-up?

We have a wide range of activities on throughout the year at the Gaggle. These include live music (currently on Saturday evenings), Village Fete, Bonfire Night, Christmas Craft Fayre etc During lockdown we have also revamped a double-decker bus as a soft play bus for kids when they visit. We have also built a crazy golf course and now also have some pygmy goats!

Have you faced any challenges within the industry?

The Gaggle is very popular during the summer months due to the gardens and campsite. So being closed due to the lockdown across what would be part of our peak time (April, May & June) was tricky financially. We do however feel very fortunate to be in a rural location with lots of space around us.

The best thing about running a pub is?

We love being a focus for the village community. The Gaggle is the only pub in Buckland Newton and was sorely missed when it was shut. We run the pub with a family friendly vibe. It is a lovely place to work and live as a family.

The perfect hangover cure?

A Gaggle Roast lunch!

How have you responded to the challenge of the coronavirus lockdown and how do you see the pub adapting to the new situation?

Initially we took a few weeks of lockdown to give our team a break and to evaluate what we could do safely and how best to support the community around us. We introduced a takeaway menu across four days of the week (including a Curry Night, Village Chippy, Wood-fired Pizzas and Roasts). We delivered within three miles of the pub - including to many of those that were shielding.

We made the most of the nice weather during lockdown and fast tracked a lot of our ideas for the garden (upcycling where we could to stay on budget!). We have installed a double-decker soft play bus, developed Kitchen Gardens, built a crazy golf course and introduced four baby pygmy goats; we wanted to have something different that just your standard pub garden swing and climbing frame!

We are fortunate that we have such large gardens and have been able to reconfigure inside without losing any capacity.

Since opening we have grown our staff team as we try to overcome the challenges of table service!

Is there anything you would like to add that people might find of interest about your pub?

I guess people might describe the Gaggle as being a country pub with a chic but quirky style. It’s a family-owned and run freehouse with campsite, playbus, golf and goats!