A COUNTRY pub near Carlisle is being brought back to life.

Richard and Jo Fenn have taken over the Crown & Thistle at Rockcliffe and are currently busy carrying out renovations.

They hope to open in April or May.

In the past, the husband and wife team have managed The Black Swan at Culgaith, The Queens at Warwick-on-Eden and The Black Lion at Durdar.

During that time they built a renowned reputation and a firm clientele.

The Crown & Thistle, which sits at the bottom of a dip at the entrance to the village, has been shut for about 13 months.

Jo said: “It needs a bit of cleaning up and we are doing a refurbishment but we don’t want to change too much.

“We’ve got new flooring going in and new electrics.

“We are restoring some of the old chairs. It’s quite nice to bring things back to life. Some of them are just a bit tired. We will be re-upholstering some of the fixed seating and retopping some of the tables and chairs.

“It is a village pub and it seems to have always been popular. We want to keep it that way.

“We hope to open in April or May.

“We will be looking for some staff but recruitment is in its early stages. We have been talking to some others too.”

The menu has not yet been decided but Jo said to expect classic British dishes, and dishes that her chef husband Richard is renowned for.

She said: “We will have some outdoor seating. We are going to do a bit of ground work to the bank outside and try and level it off a bit.

“We just need to hope that we get another good summer.

“The pub is very much part of the village and we want to keep it that way.

“It is community focused and we want to be part of the community.”

News of the Crown & Thistle reopening has been welcomed on social media.

Sophie Marsay said: “If you do as good customer service, food and surroundings as your previous places it will be fab.”

The Crown & Thistle is the only remaining pub in Rockcliffe. There used to be five pubs in the village.

It used to be an old coaching stop off point for travellers going to and from Scotland, as well as a favourite haunt of thieves and smugglers landing contraband arriving from Scotland and Ireland.