Regular readers will know of my obsession with the traditional British Roast Dinner, which is usually roast beef and all the trimmings as described in ‘Grazing Patriotically Roast Beef at Turf Tavern Oxford’
“For the kitchen, there are basically five elements to the dish to perfect: beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Gastropubs tend to aim for a safe, medium roast just pink in the middle but without blood. The flavour will be imparted by a delicate char and rendered fat at the periphery of the joint.”
The Fox House Inn & Restaurant
After 35 years, I returned to the Fox House, Hathersage Road, Longshaw, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S11 7TY, U.K.
Then, it was a rustic pub in the middle of no where on the edge of the Peak District National Park near Sheffield. Today, it serves as a rest stop for hikers and ramblers as well as the start of bicycle rides into the peaks. Now called the ‘Fox House Inn’ between Hathersage and Sheffield, it was mentioned by Charlotte Brontë in her book as where Jane Eyre was supposed to have caught the stagecoach to get away from Mr. Rochester.
The Fox House was named after Mr George Fox of Callow Farm in Highlow and not the cunning red canine. It was originally part of the Longshaw estate and probably dates back to 1773. First called ‘The Traveller’s Rest’, it was renamed after the new land owner in Callow. It was built alongside the coaching road linking Buxton and Sheffield, part of this still exists and joins the Sheffield – Hathersage road near the Fox House. The Fox House was a favoured resting place for livestock drivers and the passengers of stagecoaches. The Duke of Rutland became landlord and extended the building in the 1840’s. The large bottom room was known as The Duke’s Room because the Duke of Rutland sometimes slept there.
In the old days, we used to enter via the original front door off the main road but now that has been locked for “health & safety” reasons and we all have to use a side entrance. You can understand the danger of drunks egressing directly onto the main road from the pub at closing time!
Since my last visit, Fox House has been acquired by the Vintage Inn group, itself in turn, belonging to the massive Mitchell’s & Butler Group. Currently it serves food, real ales and has nine guest rooms. The car park has been expanded but often used by visitors to the Burbage Valley and surrounding moorland rather than pub patrons. So, even if the car park is full, there should be room inside. Winter visitors can expect to be warmed by welcoming log fires and there is a beer garden for summer visits.
You cannot order food and drink to be served by the staff if you sit in the Back Field but you can bring your own food and carry the beers yourself back from the bar. That’s because “Health & Safety” inspectors have banned wait-staff from chancing injury or death from mole-hills underfoot. Seriously, that’s the reason but they still send bar staff to RETRIEVE empty glasses that customers have taken out for different “health & safety” reasons – glasses are breakable hazards that must be removed… Oh, the snowflake generation that we inhabit!
If a pint of hand pulled ale is what you’re craving, then they are stocked with a great range of beers from Doom Bar to more local cask ales like Old Thumper and Razor Back from Ringwood Brewery. Familiar favourites such as London Pride, Tribute and Purity Pure UBU make appearances. CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) members get 20p off their perfectly poured pint… making it taste all the better!
Doom Bar is produced on Cornwall’s North Atlantic coast, at Sharp’s brewery. It was founded in 1994 by Bill Sharp, who had a mission ‘to make exceptional quality beer on the north Cornish coast’ – and that’s just what he’s done. Now the UK’s no.1 selling cask beer, Doom Bar (4% alcohol) has a signature style; balanced, succulent dried fruit, lightly roasted malt complexity of flavours and a moreish finish. At the mouth of the Camel Estuary in Rock, lies the treacherous Doom Bar sandbank, the inspiration for this moreish amber ale.
The Fox House is a dog friendly pub that welcomes four-legged friends and have water and treats available to ensure they’re as comfortable as you are during your visit. Dogs are allowed in the bar area but not the dining areas so you and your four-legged friends can feel relaxed, safe, and happy at all times during your visit.
(Right-Click on map and select View Image, allowing expanded view)
Unfortunately, if you input the postcode (ZIP code) into your car’s SatNav, it only locates the Hathasage Road which starts as the A625 road in Sheffield and not the pub itself. At least, that’s what happened with my SatNav. The road begins at a bridge on the Limb Brook, the former boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire. There the road changes name from Ecclesall Road South to Hathersage Road. It leads south-west from the suburb of Whirlow over the border between Hathersage and Sheffield, before becoming Sheffield Road at the point called Surprise View, where the traveller will be greeted with a stunning view of Hope Valley. if you’re at Surprise View (bottom left on the map), you’ve gone too far!
If you get lost, just get on the A625 road towards Hathersage and stay on it until it becomes the A6187 and keep going until you see the Fox House on the right at a junction sharp right bend towards Hathersage. [See later for why the A625 became the A6187 for a short distance]
Once you have pinpointed the pub, you can visit the local area to build up an appetite.
Stones in the churchyard mark what is known as the grave of Little John, where in 1780 James Shuttleworth claims to have unearthed a thigh bone measuring 72.39 centimetres (28.5 in). This would have made Little John 8.08 feet (2.46 m) in height. One claimant to the famed Robin Hood “of Locksley” is the village of Loxley, only eight miles over the moors on the edge of Sheffield. A number of local landmarks are associated with Robin Hood, such as Robin Hood’s Cross on Abney Moor, Robin Hood’s Stoop on Offerton Moor, and Robin Hood’s Cave on Stanage Edge.
In 1845, Charlotte Brontë stayed at the Hathersage vicarage, visiting her friend Ellen Nussey, whose brother was the vicar, while she was writing ‘Jane Eyre’. Many of the locations mentioned in her novel match locations in Hathersage, the name Eyre being that of a local gentry. Her “Thornfield Hall” is widely accepted to be North Lees Hall, on the outskirts of Hathersage. Then, there is the aforementioned Fox House coaching inn.
Near Fox House, the road bends tightly whilst passing over Padley Gorge (see map) and is overshadowed by Toad’s Mouth; a stone hanging over the road not dissimilar to the shape of a toad. This feature marks the boundary between Sheffield and Derbyshire.
Toad’s Mouth by the A6187 road
The A6187 road forms part of the A625. Until 2000 the entire course of Hathersage Road was numbered A625. Hathersage Road is now only numbered A625 as far as the junction with Stony Ridge Road where the A625 proceeds towards Calver. Between Hathersage and Stony Ridge Road junction, Hathersage Road is numbered A6187. A section of the A625 was severed in 1979 due to a landslip at Mam Tor hence the re-designation of the road number for part of the route.
Here the road turns south west over Houndkirk (a.k.a. Ankirk) Moor to “The Fox House” where huge Millstone Grit stone sets were centered 4 ft. 8½ inches apart, prevented cart-wheels from sinking into the soft, peaty, moorland soil. (Reputedly established by Julius Caesar as Standard gauge for Roman chariots, this measurement is still in use today and Houndkirk Road is still called “The Roman Road” by local people as is the Long Causeway, Lodge Moor.)
Fox House Dining Room
We sat in the bay window of the front room overlooking the main road. You can see the bay window from across the road.
Roast Dinner Review
Gently sipping our real ales, we awaited the food on a bright Sunday lunchtime.
My partner ordered Handmade Dough Sticks “served with garlic butter, pesto and chipotle chilli mayonnaise”, thinking it was baked bread. You get what you see – it was just fried dough! I love fried dough so they were “repurposed” in my direction and made good accompaniments for the amber ale.
My Prawn & Lobster Cocktail “dressed with lobster mayonnaise and served with rustic bread” brought a luxurious twist to that 1970’s favourite starter. The lobster and prawns were succulent and the sauce balanced and subtle to not overpower the seafood.
We both ordered Roast Beef Dinner “served with Yorkshire pudding, ruffled roast potatoes, honey & thyme roasted carrots, roasted parsnips, seasonal greens and as much gravy as you like.” My partner ordered Extra bacon-wrapped herb stuffing. Can you tell the difference between the photos?
If you’re in Yorkshire, it has to be Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding…of course!
Round these parts, the mid-day meal is “Dinner” and the evening meal is “Tea” or “Supper” depending on whether it’s early or late evening. That’s the way it is folks and the English language originated in England so “suck it up.”
The beef was medium rare and competently done as were all the trimmings. The Yorkshire pudding was fluffy in the middle and perhaps a tad better than in my previous Grazing Report from Oxford (we were in Yorkshire after all). But overall, the meat and gravy was only competant and not as stunningly infused with flavour. We had no room for dessert.
AlphaLuxe Three-Tongues Award
Overall, the Fox House Sunday Roast Dinner is an AlphaLuxe Three-Tongues Award. My rating includes the ales, ambience and toilet ratings.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).