Following an extensive refurbishment, the property will reopen in the summer as the sixth Inns of Character which Thwaites launched in February as a brand with an emphasis on high levels of hospitality, good-quality food and a wide range of cask ales and fine wines.
The Fleece, which has a 40-seat restaurant and 40-seat bistro in addition to the main bar, marks the first property within the brand outside of the north-west of England, where Thwaites is based. It will join five other Inns of Character, including The Lion at Settle, North Yorkshire, which opened its doors last week following a refit.
Antony Spencer, managing director of Shire Hotels, Thwaites' four-star brand, said the Fleece provided everything he looks for in Inns of Character. "It's a great, historic building in a fantastic tourist spot and it expands our collection across a wider area which is part of the plan to create a national portfolio.
"We will now give the Fleece a new lease of life while staying true to its architectural and historic roots."
Thwaites aims to have 25 Inns of Character by 2016.
By Janet Harmer
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