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Posted 02 March 2017 04:05


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Don't know how true this is but if it is then it's great!

http://www.contactmusic.net/james-blunt/news/james-blunt-buys-chelsea-pubreport_5599428?track=mail_news
Post #281669
Posted 02 March 2017 09:23


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James and his father are registered directors of Blunt Pubs Limited so I guess it is true!

http://www.hollywood.com/general/james-blunt-buys-chelsea-pub-report-60678030/

http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/celebrity/james-blunt-buys-london-pub-1039701.html
Post #281670
Posted 02 March 2017 10:53


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Wicked!
Post #281673
Posted 02 March 2017 12:52


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This is most likely the source of info from where all the newspapers have taken up the news. I reckon it's a reliable press release.

http://www.pressparty.com/pg/newsdesk/jamesblunt/view/164640/

Thursday, March 2, 2017
by Pressparty

James Blunt buys pub in Chelsea

Singer-songwriter James Blunt is to become a pub landlord, after he recently bought The Fox And Pheasant in Chelsea, London.

The 43-year-old musician recently bought The Fox And Pheasant in Chelsea, London, to save it from demolition and despite being a well-paid singer-songwriter, James intends to soon start pulling pints behind the bar.

James has saved the pub's future after it was earmarked by property developers for new housing.

News of James' latest business venture comes shortly after the singer admitted his life "won't be as fun" without his late friend Carrie Fisher.

The British star struck up an unlikely friendship with the 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' actress after his ex-girlfriend Dixie Chassay, whose family are long-time friends of the Hollywood star, introduced them. 

And James admitted he will badly miss the iconic actress, who died in December, aged 60, after she stopped breathing on board a flight.

He previously said: "She was just the most incredible person. She was a hugely bright person and her brain just jumped between subjects and she was an incredible writer and comedian in her own way. Life will definitely not be as much fun now that she's not around."

However, James said he took some comfort in knowing that Carrie had enjoyed a late career boost, following the success of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', for which she reprised the role of Princess Leia.

James explained: "I suppose the only positive that I take from it is that she'd been riding high - back as General Leia in the new 'Star Wars' movie - and she went out on a high and with a bang."

Post #281676
Posted 02 March 2017 13:23


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He's already getting recognition for saving the pub from demolition.

https://twitter.com/ProtectPubs/status/837234331823321088

Protect Pubs @ProtectPubs 4h
@JamesBlunt is a shining example to society. He understands the joy & wonder if a good #pub & is our latest #PubHero

Post #281677
Posted 02 March 2017 14:36


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Yes!
We should book this Pub for a night and orchestrate the first ever Boardie Club meeting.
It'll be a yearly affair complete with JB songs playing in the background and Coronas flowing...
Ahh, yes I can see Billy dancing on the bar right now.

LMAO!


Spinning on my heels....so far away from real <3
Post #281678
Posted 02 March 2017 20:40


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I think it's great that James saved this pub from demolition, there are so many of our great British pubs being destroyed to build flats etc. so many of my favourite pubs are now gone, some are now flats and some are made into Co-op convenience stores!!!!!!! WTF?! It's heartbreaking!!!
So well done James, feel free to buy some more in my area
Post #281690
Posted 14 March 2018 21:54


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Interview backstage in Sydney, Australia - by Richard Wilkins for The Today Show

*Includes an update about his pub 'The Fox and Pheasant'

Interview recorded on March 13th so the pub should be open somewhere in April 2018.

https://youtu.be/dQveGdAKcNI
Post #285610
Posted 15 March 2018 12:28


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Opening Spring 2018!
https://www.thefoxandpheasant.com/

A little advert from a supplier
https://twitter.com/breezefree/status/973943424981389312

@breezefree
14 March
We're in the middle of making this retracting glass roof design a reality at James Blunt's new pub, The Fox & Pheasant in Chelsea. And yes it is THAT James Blunt. Watch this space: It's going to be beautiful... It's true. #glassroof #JamesBlunt #welovealfresco
Post #285615
Posted 15 March 2018 15:27


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Is the opening glass roof so you can catch the ball from the statium. Or maybe do a few clay shooting for fresh birds on the barbe. Um might have to pop in there have a glass of wine and try and catch a ball Might give a miss on the bird, if I'm ever in that neck of the woods.
Goodluck
Post #285616
Posted 17 March 2018 14:00


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James talks about his new pub.

https://www.facebook.com/Sunrise/videos/10155292690715887/

***

Their new Instagram account is now open

https://www.instagram.com/thefoxandpheasantpub/


Post #285649
Posted 19 May 2018 03:09


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A sliding glass roof for a new London gastro pub opening Spring 2018

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sliding-glass-roof-new-london-gastro-pub-opening-spring-simon-cotton
Post #286014
Posted 21 May 2018 16:57


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Little scoop in this interview in Riga. Google translation... be indulgent

http://www.tvnet.lv/sejas/slavenibas/787365-no_karaliskajam_kazam_uz_rigu_intervija_ar_dzeimsu_blantu

Is it true that you own a bar?

Yes! The Fox And Pheasant in London. Open one month later. Right on the World Cup in soccer. That will be great!

***

Their new Twitter and Facebook accounts are now open!

https://twitter.com/TheFoxnPheasant

https://www.facebook.com/thefoxandpheasantpub/

Post #286039
Posted 28 May 2018 14:42


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James talks about his new pub in this interview in Stockholm. Opening in June!

https://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/a/kazx5B/james-blunts-nya-jobb--oppnar-pub

[...] Google translation

- And then I'll open a pub next month in London! If your readers come to Chelsea sometime, then come on Fox & Pheasant and have a glass!

In March 2017, it became known that James Blunt became proud pub owner. Several international media reported that he bought the pub under the company "James Blunt Pubs Ltd" in an effort to save it from demolition.

"It's my local pub, 170 years old, and they tried to sell it and someone wanted to buy to rebuild the building for apartments. I did not want to see my local pub turned into it.

And the one who looks past the pub may be serviced by the singer himself.

- I will be there. Not to play songs, not until I want people to leave, but I'll definitely be there and stand behind the bar. I will definitely not be in the kitchen because I am a terrible cook. But we have a Gordon Ramsey-trained chef there, which is phenomenal, so .. he says with a smile.

Post #286083
Posted 29 May 2018 04:58


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I will put my order in now (fluffy duck) yellow vock and vodica and lemonda. In a tall class no ice. Cheers
Post #286087
Posted 29 May 2018 05:54


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I know of a real hot barman that could work in there
Post #286091
Posted 30 May 2018 03:50


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Guess who got all the wedding flowers. (Nice pub)
Post #286102
Posted 08 June 2018 22:58


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Update

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bjxr66rHyiz/?hl=fr&taken-by=thefoxandpheasantpub

We will open on 27th June. If you would like to make a reservation for lunch or dinner then please call us on 020 7352 2943
Post #286158
Posted 15 June 2018 21:29


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I'd love to take a peek inside on that special grand opening day. I would if I could.
Have a shot of Sambuca for me if you do go!


Spinning on my heels....so far away from real <3
Post #286183
Posted 21 June 2018 02:18


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https://twitter.com/TheFoxnPheasant/status/1008724435568877568

@TheFoxnPheasant Jun 18

Just one green tile, some brass letters, and some flowers to go!

***

The Pub in The Billings

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Under new ownership and lovingly restored, The Fox & Pheasant re-opens its doors on 27th June 2018, welcoming back drinkers and diners to a quintessentially British and charmingly vibrant country pub, on the Chelsea/Fulham border.

Originally founded in 1846 for local canal workers, The Fox & Pheasant has been sensitively refurbished over the past 12 months to create a new destination pub and dining experience, whilst retaining its original spirit and atmosphere. A hidden gem tucked away in the corner of London’s Chelsea, the pub has its own distinctive character and charm. The two original bars have been restored to their former glories; an olive tree-filled conservatory (with retractable roof for summer days) has been added; and on the second floor, a secluded, wood-panelled private dining room that sits up to 22 people has been painstakingly carved.

Curated by Head Chef Tony Bee, who trained under Gordon Ramsay, The Fox & Pheasant’s dining experience champions British produce and is founded on the importance of sustainable and locally sourced ingredients.

Seasonality is at the core of the menu, with a focus on pub classics, finer dishes, and light, healthy servings. Highlights include Sea Bream with smoked almond pesto, Monkfish cheek scampi and gluten-free sticky toffee pudding. Bar snacks are served all day and include classics such as scotch eggs and sausage rolls, alongside more original dishes like buttermilk fried rabbit or sticky pork tacos.

On the wine list of predominantly old-world wines are some big, familiar classics, and some fine, harder to find reserves. The cocktail list offers British spirit to those dining or simply drinking at the bar and includes a handpicked selection, such as Bellinis, Moscow Mules, Aperol Spritz, Bloody Marys and Espresso Martinis.

Post #286207
Posted 27 June 2018 17:18


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They have lift off! It's opening day at The Fox & Pheasant.

Illustration by Melissa Greenwood. This image reminds me something...

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkhhtohncMl/?taken-by=thefoxandpheasantpub

Post #286252
Posted 28 June 2018 16:34


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This is what I call a "non news" made of already known bits of information pieced together. Waiting for a proper coverage and photos of James behind the bar.

https://www.femalefirst.co.uk/celebrity/james-blunt-opens-london-pub-1150783.html

James Blunt opens his London pub

James Blunt has opened his London pub the Fox and Pheasant in time for England's big football game against Belgium this week.

Female First
27 June 2018

James Blunt has officially opened his pub in London - just in time for England's big football game against Belgium on Thursday (28.06.18).

The 'You're Beautiful' hitmaker bought the Fox And Pheasant, near Stamford Bridge in Chelsea, in March after he learnt that it was at threat of demolition and, after a few renovations, the 44-year-old singer feels ready to throw open the doors to the public in the hope of cashing in on the World Cup.

James has reportedly added a retractable glass roof over the beer ¬garden so that he can still fit customers in to the boozer to watch the big game should the weather take a turn for the worse, according to The Sun newspaper.

Although the pub doors won't open to the public until tomorrow night, James invited some of his celebrity friends - including Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson - to the establishment's launch party on Tuesday night (26.06.18).

James isn't the first celebrity to open up a pub in the capital as film director Guy Ritchie ran Mayfair's The Punch Bowl, which became a celebrity hot spot, for five years before he decided to sell up in 2013.
Meanwhile, it's not yet known whether James will be behind the bar pulling pints at its opening but he has told friends that he wants to be "hands on."

A source said previously: "James has registered himself as the director of James Blunt Pubs Ltd and is totally committed to the project. It's not just an investment - he wants to be hands on. He's already been boasting that it's going to be a pub full of aristocrats and even royalty."

Post #286255
Posted 28 June 2018 16:38


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Yay! Recently, Warner Music Australia gave James this beautiful framed mirror in recognition of over 1 million album sales in Australia. Now, it's hung somewhere inside the pub.

https://twitter.com/PipMcGyver/status/1012063210323808256

Original post by James:
https://www.facebook.com/jamesblunt/photos/a.10153470579845424.1073741829.16855985423/10160423759245424/?type=3&theater


Post #286256
Posted 30 June 2018 19:46


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New photos!

https://www.facebook.com/thefoxandpheasantpub/photos/a.1987041008004282.1073741827.1987038334671216/2056371407737908/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/thefoxandpheasantpub/photos/rpp.1987038334671216/2056217514419964/?type=3&theater
Post #286278
Posted 22 July 2018 15:56


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James is back on eBay! Offering old items from The Fox and Pheasant.

"Once upon a time, I sold my sister on eBay. Follow me here to see what weird stuff I sell nowadays."

https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/thefoxandpheasant

Post #286433
Posted 04 August 2018 16:19


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Review on My Baba website.

http://www.mybaba.com/date-night-london-chelsea-fox-pheasant-review/

A Summer Evening In Chelsea’s Fox & Pheasant Restaurant
Lauren Hyland
3 August, 2018

Everywhere is better in summer. Everything is a bit brighter and a bit happier: people, parties and pubs. Chelsea’s Fox & Pheasant is one of those refreshing, happy places. Their recent refurb delighted us with a tree-filled (but not too filled) crisp conservatory with a retractable roof. As we sat down I remarked how much better the place could be with a retractable roof, and moments later, as if by magic (or the server overhearing us), the roof was drawn. I always appreciate an airy and light dining room — no wonder I gushing about the glass roof, ha ha. The Fox and Pheasant is a place to sit until the sun sets in the summer; we also reasoned we’d enjoy it in winter, still bright, but with a patter of rain.

We skipped into James Blunt’s boozer around 7pm. The pub is tucked away from the main road leading to Stamford Bridge. It’s a quaint little local (if you’re a Chelsea local) that Blunt reportedly boasted would be filled “aristocrats and even royalty.” It wasn’t. It was mostly old gentlemen and families having dinner, quietly. Outside is adorned with bright hanging baskets, inside is pub-wooden: floors, walls, doors, tables and stools, marked up against green paint and red leather stool covers. Stepping beyond that, you’ll enter the conservatory as directed by the bar staff — I don’t remember a sign. It’s brighter and the wood persists, this time teamed with plush green booths, olive trees and staff who’re excited about everything they’re serving up. The menu is short: four starters, three salads, five mains, and five desserts. It’s all British produce, of course, and consists of some brilliant pub classic dishes that are just the light, healthy and filling things you’d like to eat in a pub conservatory on a summer night. The likes of chicken liver parfait, Cornish crab, sea bream, sirloin steak, and the quintessential pie and mash all feature.

I started with a small, generous and delicious smoked salmon salad. Large enough for a lunchtime main, little too large for a starter. My pal went for crab and cured salmon with seaweed cracker, which she described as ‘flavoursome and rich yet not overpowering’. Concerned that I’d overdone it with the salad starter, we awaited the main. The right amount of time elapsed between starter and main, something that rarely happens — mains are usually premature, in my opinion. Torn between the sea bream and brocolli-taleggio tart, I went for the tart on our server’s recommendation. “It’s not what you’ll expect,” he told us. He couldn’t believe quite how fantastic it was when he first tried it. Picture the tart: shortcrust pastry, a generous layer of the taleggio, the Italian’s answer to brie, then some broccolini lolling about on top, blanketed with a small lattice. Pine nuts, broccoli and rocket are then tossed tidily about the plate. It was divine.

We were passed back the menu and were almost talked into liquid desserts. Why round things off with a coffee when we do a cracking espresso martini, they reason. That’s when we started looking onto the Saturday brunch. It hasn’t been open long but the brunch already has its regulars, whether they go for the roast bacon loin or the Bloody Mary is still to be determined. We reached the end of our pleasant house Chenin blanc and left babbling about how we’d be back soon for brunch.

Post #286511
Posted 07 August 2018 14:56


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https://www.spearswms.com/review-fox-pheasant-chelsea/

Review: The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea
7th August 2018
by William Cash
Spear's Magazine

The revived Fox & Pheasant in SW3 is charming and authentic, with excellent food and even better service, writes William Cash

The Fox & Pheasant pub is back. After years of being something of Chelsea’s Checkpoint Charlie pub for SW3 drinkers located in a posh no mans land between Chelsea and Fulham, the pub has been saved and transformed by singer-song writer James Blunt and his wife Sofia – former local residents of the Billings. Instead of the famous old local becoming another over-priced flat development, the new F & P has quickly become a hit, with James even pulling some pints of Cornish ale in this hidden away cul de sac.

James and his wife bought the 170 year old pub as they hated the idea of some developers turning their pretty mews street into another overpriced housing development. Following a lengthy restoration, probably costing what you could have spent fixing up a wreck of a small stately home in the country, James was serving his first pints in July. He remains a local, albeit not living any more in the Billings. He and his wife now live in a larger townhouse down the road.

After a ‘soft’ opening, the word has quickly spread amongst locals and gastro-pub lovers across London: it’s a Chelsea winner, partly thanks to it feeling like a family-run boutique pub and also thanks to James hiring one of London’s most experienced Chelsea pub managers, Toby Milne. Toby was trained by the legendary Alexander ‘Langy’ Langlands Pearse, now CEO of the Cirrus Inns group that own 28 of the best boutique pubs across England, including the White Horse in Chilgrove, Sussex, and the Admiral Codrington. Toby learnt the art of running a London pub (diplomacy skills include placating local ‘international’ residents from complaining about noise) at some of Chelsea’s best known watering holes. Langy describes his former protege Toby as ‘brilliant’.

There is an a la carte menu and a bar snack menu that is available all day. ‘Roasts run all day on a Sunday’ I am told, so there’s none of this ‘last orders by 2.30pm’ or ‘we’ve run out of the beef’ that you often get in the country. The pub has already become a fixture of the local Chelsea weekend scene.

The chicly sophisticated make-over has turned it back into a classic English pub rather than trying to make it trendy, or turning it into another sawdust tapas bar. I didn’t like to think about the renovation budget as I sat down in the glass ceilinged ‘conservatory’ but judging from the quality of the 18th century looking fishing print wallpaper in the new first floor Private Room – which can sit 24 – we can safely guess that none of the decorating was done at Oka or the local Lot’s Road auction house. The table (and the thin stemmed wine glasses for that matter ) in the private dining room would not look out of place in an officer’s mess. Only they probably wouldn’t serve purist designer water in glass bottles that is ‘filtered on site’ and boasts ‘no food miles’. Half of what they pay for their water is donated to the Blue Marine Foundation.

The attention to detail is meticulous down to the proper wooden ground pepper pots, wonderfully old fashioned club-style gents lavatories that look is if they have been there since the 1930s, or else snitched from the Guards Polo Club. There’s more brass than on a 1930s cruise ship. Somebody is going to have to buy a lot of Brasso to make the place look smart but I’m glad they have gone down the brass polish route. Who doesn’t love the smell of brass polish and that re-assuring shade of green the brass corners turn on the edges after a decade of polishing ?

These days many people want a town pub that is almost like a hybrid Range Rover. As you sip your Provence rose, or Pol Roger, Cuvee Winston Churchill, you feel as if you could be by a river in Sussex or Oxfordshire. Only you are actually just a few hundreds years from the baying fans at Chelsea Football ground.

Like James’s music, the Fox & Pheasant is rather a genre-defying pub. Part of its charm is that you can’t place it. It’s too easily comfortable but smart (down to the chrome plated Art Deco cocktail shakers on the bar) to be another London gastro-pub; too sophisticated to be just a local boozer. The food too good to be described as Chelsea pub grub. The management and service simply too professional – the smiles bright, the teeth white and the tattoos too discreet – for you not to want to book in for Sunday lunch for several repetitive weeks in advance like some serial Sunday lunch addict, or worse pop stalker.

After I made my reservation, I got an email confirmation for ‘Mr Cash’. As soon as it pinged into my email box, I began to feel that I could expect something special. It could have been from the Ivy or Claridge’s – certainly not a touch you expected from a local Chelsea boozer. Also, I expect the reservation system is such that if you happen not to be a ‘Miss’ or ‘Mr’, and perhaps a little grander, their system can cope as opposed to you being described as ‘Ms’ or ‘Other’. I liked the formality.

Annabel’s was made famous by Mark Birley for pioneering the Mayfair Country House style. James and Sofia have succeeded in creating something that can be called the ‘Chelsea Country Pub’ style. The best touches include the fitting of new leaded windows, hand made leather studded dining chairs, a Wimbledon-style removable garden atrium glass roof, chic banquettes that look as if they have been upholstered with green Connolly leather stripped off a dozen pre-war Bentleys and a new main ‘English bar’ that feels like you have walked into a St James’s club. The country style gastro-menu feels a hundred miles from Fulham with a classic menu of sophisticated and delicious but unfussy food. I can recommend the pork loin with black pudding and potato terrine and fennel choucroute. The chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream is also worth the wait.

Did somebody say choucroute? I’ve been reviewing restaurants for Spear’s for well over a decade and have never come across that word in any restaurant menu – from Monaco to Moscow – let alone in a pub. I loved the home-made houmous dip served in little copper mini-buckets with snappy fresh carrots, mange tout and celery; the fresh pine dining tables in the garden room that lift the room, the stylish silver cutlery by Robert Welch, the overhead ‘industrial’ pendants that give the garden restaurant an artisan Chelsea feel and the potted orange trees that smell like some exotic botanical garden in a restaurant in Ibiza. Even the lustrous evergreen tree in the centre looks real. The food was first class, as good as any other of the established gastro-restaurant-pubs in London from the Enterprise to the Punch Bowl in Mayfair. And they’ve only been open a month or so.

Then there’s the drinks – or the ‘wet stuff’ as its called in the pub trade. You can always tell the quality of a pub by its house ale and wines. You may be in the no man’s land between Chelsea and Fulham but the pub’s Tribute Cornish Ale, ‘Fox n ‘ Fez’ lager and Cote Breton Cidre make sure you really don’t know where on earth you are. Certainly after a few pints or draining one of the very expensive Bordeaux magnums I spied decorating the wall of the garden. You can see that somebody has been enjoying themselves with the cellar stocking and tasting duties. The house white (Chenin Blanc from South Africa) is one of the best house wines of any pub I’ve been to. The philosophy seems to be: don’t rip off the customer with a carafe of red petrol mix. It’s not worth it. If they like the house stuff then next time they’ll treat themselves to something more exotically priced.

The cocktail list indicates somebody knows their way around a cocktail shaker. There are not many bars, let alone pubs, that can do a proper Bellini, made from Northern Italy prosecco (not champagne) and peach puree; and a Negroni or an Espresso Martini – the cocktail equivalent of a loaded revolver – and a Dark & Stormy (dark rum, angostura bitters, fresh lime and ginger beer) would not disgrace Puff Daddy’s yacht in St Barths. You could go there for a cocktail crawl alone.

The pub dates back to 1846 when it was the Bedford Arms. Then it was Prince of Wales and in 1965 became The Fox & Pheasant. According to Blunt and his wife Sofia, there will be no more ‘name changing’. The pub has three fire places, a dartboard and even dog biscuits for ‘well behaved’ dogs. Although I noticed some swanky discreet speakers hidden in the garden walls, the only thing I didn’t see was a ‘live’ singing area, or stage. I am told that the chances of James singing to Sunday roast punters are ‘remote’. Still, after two bottles of Cuvee Winston Churchill champagne, you could always ask.

William Cash is founder and editor-at-large at Spear’s

Post #286527
Posted 11 August 2018 14:46


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https://twitter.com/garyjberry/status/1028221992732905472

TheFoodaholic @garyjberry Jul 30

Well @JamesBlunt's new pub @TheFoxnPheasant may just be the most perfect new watering hole to open in London. I remember the pub before it was taken over & just how er, rubbish it was. Now it looks stunning, feels like a proper pub and has a fab fancy garden outside. #mynewlocal
Post #286557
Posted 06 September 2018 16:02


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Wow! James & Sofia are featured in Tatler Magazine, October 2018 Issue, for The Fox and Pheasant pub. Awesome pictures of them.

https://www.tatler.com/article/james-blunt-sofia-wellesley-pub

A Royal Hangout: James Blunt and Sofia Wellesley's Chelsea Pub

James Blunt and his wife Sofia Wellesley turned a Chelsea football pub into a local gem where royals stop by

by Clare Conway
Tatler Magazine
Thursday 6 September 2018

James Blunt was in the loos at Soho House Berlin last year when he was caught by a guest at the urinals taking a sneaky photo. ‘There was no explaining it,’ he says, as he shifts in his seat. ‘The guy recognised me and probably thought “James Blunt is a complete freak.”’ However, the object of Blunt’s interest was not the guest, but the dashing Kohler Branham almond urinal itself. He went online and bought three. James, 44, relays the story with a boyish, triumphant grin.

He seems very pleased with himself. And so he should be, because, as well as being a musician who has sold 20 million ­records, had five sell-out world tours and accumulated a near two million-strong fan base on Twitter thanks to his self-deprecating ­humour (his bio reads: ‘Proof that one song is all you need’) – James Blunt is now a pub landlord. ‘I put the urinals in there,’ he says, gesturing to the men’s lavatories.

We’re at The Fox & Pheasant, a newly re-opened, handsomely renovated 17th-century pub on a smart Chelsea mews where James Blunt and his wife Sofia Wellesley used to live (they’ve since moved round the corner).

When they were mews residents, The Fox & Pheasant was a raucous football boozer – Chelsea’s ground Stamford Bridge is a mere minute’s walk away – that served pints and pork scratchings on sticky tables, had a concrete smoking area and boasted a thick coat of brown paint on virtually every surface.

‘It was pretty basic before,’ says Sofia diplomatically. ‘Not that warm or friendly, but a great ­local pub. We’d go there sometimes with friends.’

Sofia – the granddaughter of the late 8th Duke of Wellington – is strikingly beautiful: tall and slim, with ice-blonde hair and blue eyes. They are the perfect pairing: the megastar met the aristocratic beauty six years ago, they married in Mallorca in 2014 and have two children together. Though they attempt to downplay it, Sofia and James have long been a well-connected society couple, friendly with celebrities and royals alike (James has known Prince Harry since they served together in the British Army and Ed Sheeran is the godfather of their first-born). Lately, however, their in-crowd status has become undeniably visible. They were among the anointed few invited to witness Prince Harry marry Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, where they were seen chatting to Sir Elton John and David Furnish in the pews before the ceremony. Thanks to her embroidered floral gown by Red Valentino, Sofia was also widely lauded by the press as one of the best-dressed guests.

Today, she emerges for the shoot exquisite in a Dolce & Gabbana ­metallic brocade suit. When she descends the stairs, James practically swoons. ‘You look amazing,’ he says, boyish grin reappearing.

Sofia tells me, ‘We’d often walk past the pub and would say, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do the place up?” But of course we never meant much by it.’

Then one day it came up for sale. James heard about it – fittingly – over drinks with an ­estate agent friend and fearing it might be made into a residential property, decided to make an offer.

Now, after 18 long months of renovations, the place has been transformed with great care and ‘no expense spared’ into a spectacular space. The Fox & Pheasant has all the wood panelling, open fires and bottle-green leather armchairs of a classic country pub, but there are also glamorous touches, with prints and patterns reminiscent of 5 Hertford Street.

Furthermore, the outdoor area has been turned into a magnificent ­orangery-style dining room with a retractable glass roof, gabled walls and an olive tree in the centre. There is also a private dining room upstairs that seats 22.

This was James’ obsession,’ says Sofia. ‘He put his heart and soul into it.’ They set to work with the help of their partner, pub manager Toby Milne, and head chef Toby Bee. Sofia chose the soft furnishings and James, by all accounts armed with a sander, stripped back the sticky lacquered surfaces and found beautiful original oak panels underneath that just ­needed a lick of varnish.

In fact, his urge to restore all the features was at times overwhelming. ‘He’s a perfectionist. He made us redo the cornicing three times,’ says manager Toby with a sigh. James readily admits that he almost had to be dragged away from the pub’s exterior wall at one point, trying in vain to salvage the ugly brown tiles stuck to the facade. ‘I was outvoted. We replaced them with green Victorian ones.’

Dressed casually in jeans and a khaki-green shirt, James looks far younger than his 44 years and most of what he says is imbued with a wry humour. He is, ­however, a curious mix of relaxed and affable but guarded, and casually shuts down conversations in which he doesn’t want to engage. When I ask if any of his showbiz pals have been in for a pint, he smiles sweetly and says, ‘I’m not going to name-drop.’ Neighbours say they’ve seen Princess Eugenie and Ed Sheeran popping in.

And what about the Chelsea football fans – will they be welcome? ‘I think they’ll still love it,’ he says, though the small TV screen, positioned discreetly in a corner, doesn’t show Sky Sports.

It was Sofia’s idea to source seasonal food from local suppliers and offer sustainable fish on the menu; she is currently working in conservation and has a keen interest in living and eating ethically. ‘I’m not saying we’re ever going to be perfect, but we’ll try our best.’It’s all prepared in a basement that when they first arrived was ‘an absolute dungeon’. James deadpans, ‘It looked like Fred West had been there’. After digging into the foundations they were able to carve out enough space for a top-of-the-range, professional steel kitchen.

Now they’re serving up community spirit – every one of the 66 neighbours on the mews was invited for a drink on the house when The Fox & Pheasant opened in June, and there are even plans for personalised tankards etched with residents’ house numbers so they can feel completely at home. ‘We just want the place to become a really lovely locals’ pub and we want to keep it on long-term,’ says Sofia. ‘We’d also love for our children to start going there when they’re grown up and to have their first pint in our bar.’

Sofia says the project has been good for James. ‘It’s been amazing to see him so committed to something that’s not music. Usually I only see him this focused when he’s working on an album.’

So, has James pulled his first pint? ‘I have,’ he replies. ‘I’m told I still need practice.’

Post #286729
Posted 07 September 2018 09:12


Supreme Being

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Nice interview and pictures!
I know how it feels to have a project together with your husband and then the feeling that this " Baby" is going to be successful. That's Happiness.
Post #286735
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