It seems incredible to imagine that one of Northamptonshire’s prettiest and sleepiest-looking villages was the setting for one of history’s most famously thwarted acts of treason... The Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
But that’s exactly what happened in Ashby St Ledgers, near Daventry, four centuries ago when 13 Roman Catholic men conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament and with them King James I.
The men, led by Robert Catesby, hatched their plan in the gatehouse above Ashby St Ledgers’ manor house and you can still visit the historic site today.
Their plot spectacularly failed and the men were executed for their treasonable actions in particularly gruesome and barbaric methods for those times.
If you’re on the trail of The Gunpowder Plot – and Northamptonshire has many connections with it, including the enigmatic Triangular Lodge near Kettering and Rushton Hall, owned by Catesby’s fellow conspirator Thomas Tresham – then Ashby St Ledgers is a great starting point. And a perfect place to be well fed and watered is at The Olde Coach House in its Main Street, which offers lots of nooks and crannies where you can plot what to eat and drink.
I visited the pub, which has recently been given a new look. It’s years since I’ve been there and I was pleasantly surprised at the obvious changes which include an upmarket stylish interior, atmospheric black and white photographs of the village on the walls, and a comprehensive menu offering all sorts of pub grub.
I hadn’t booked on the Tuesday evening, not expecting it to be as busy as it was, so it was a good job my two friends and I arrived early as tables were scarce and going fast.
We were also pleasantly surprised to discover the night we’d chosen to visit was Tuesday Special nights, when The Olde Coach House runs a two-for-one pizza offer, which we decided to go for.
I chose the Sicilian, while one friend had the pollo and the other had the breakfast pizza.
We decided to take advantage of the offer and ordered another pollo to share among us.
Had we realised just how large each pizza was, we would probably have stuck with two pizzas between the three of us. But it was okay as we were able to get the extra pollo pizza boxed up to take home.
The pizzas were all delcious, though I ended up picking the chillies off my Sicilian as they were super hot; almost explosive in fact.
The pollo pizza could have done with more chicken and less peppers and my friend found the breakfast pizza interesting, but would have preferred more sausage and bacon toppings.
We accompanied the pizzas with sides of onion rings and chips. The batter on the onion rings was scrumptious and the big, thick, chunky chips were very tasty. We thought the garlic mayonnaise on the side to dip chips into was a really good touch too.
Desserts of ice-cream for me (a scoop each of vanilla and strawberry) and vanilla creme brulees for my friends rounded off our meal. The brulees were served with a lovely soft and buttery shortbread biscuit and the dessert itself was smooth and with a good taste of vanilla.
I would not hesitate returning to The Olde Coach House to sample more of its menu, especially if there are any bangers and mash special dishes on offer around Bonfire Night.
VALUE: Good, especially on Tuesdays with two for one pizzas
FOOD: Very tasty
DISABLED ACCESS: Good
COST OF OUR MEAL: £49.30
RUTH’S STAR RATING: 7/10