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» Hampshire » Royal Oak, Fritham 

Full Postal AddressRoyal Oak, Fritham, LYNDHURST, SO43 7HJ [Map]
Telephone Number023 8081 2606Pub's Own Website 
Opening Times11-15 (11:30-14:30 winter), 18-23 MO-FR; 11-23 SA; 12-22:30 SU
FacilitiesReal Fire, Beer Garden, Lunchtime Meals, Quiet Bar, Campsite At / Near Pub

Jim and I outside the Royal Oak just after sunset, May 2002

The Royal Oak is tucked away in what must be about the most isolated part of the New Forest. The approach is along a narrow hedged lane - take a map, you'll need it to find the pub. The name Fritham probably originates from the Old English meaning an enclosed manor or settlement amongst the trees. The village of Fritham has unfortunately lost all its services, that is bar the pub which still lives on and is now the only building in the village to still retain its thatched roof. Believe it or not there used to be a gunpowder factory in the village but this has long since closed and only rural practices such as 'commoning' survive.

The pub itself is small but perfectly formed, comprising brick, cob, thatch, old beams, boarded floors and colour washed walls. It's perhaps more like a cosy living room packed full of friends. We were there just for the one night and were sad to leave this welcoming rural gem, it's just the simplicity and unfussiness of the place that makes you feel so at home. Many such rural pubs have regretfully closed and converted to housing, but this pub is one of a growing trend that are proving that isolated pubs and survive and thrive even in the tough 21st century. I think there were three rooms, some served through a hatchway. Expect two roaring log fires in the winter. You're guaranteed up to five real ales on offer, all in excellent condition. You'll often see Ringwood, Hop Back and Cheriton Ales and other guests poured straight from the cask. Simple but what I'd call 'proper' lunchtime meals from soup up to ploughmans and perhaps cumberland sausage reasonably priced unlike many establishments in the Forest. A sizeable back garden offers more seating during the summer when they might put on a barbecue. I'd ring to confirm if you fancy attending a barbecue. Beer festival September.

Bottom line is it's an absolute classic. Go there...

Roger and Jim at last orders! May 2002




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