The Bildeston Crown


Suffolk Gold – The Bildeston Crown wins the Taste of England category in The Enjoy England Awards for Excellence 2010

It was second time lucky for the Suffolk inn, The Bildeston Crown, Gold winners of the Taste of England category in VisitEngland’s The Enjoy England Awards for Excellence 2010; last year the team took Silver in the hotel category.  But this year, at the black tie event held,  as is now tradition on St George’s Day, management couple Chris and Hayley Lee and owners James Buckle and his mother Gill, were delighted to be presented with the VisitEngland Gold award.

The Bildeston Crown was one of 46 national finalists selected from over 100 regional winners submitted by regional tourist boards.  The Bildeston Crown was the only representative for Suffolk and was put forward as a result of winning the East of England heats.   All finalists were rigorously assessed by independent assessors and a team of judges to make it through to the national final.  This year’s awards ceremony was held in the Corn Exchange at The Brighton Dome on 23 April.

Owner, farmer and businessman, James Buckle is thrilled with the Brighton success: “When my mother and I purchased and renovated The Bildeston Crown, now over six years ago, we had the opportunity to develop our own outlet from which to sell our very own produce – “field to plate” if you like.  Although we will never be 100% self sufficient, I still get a huge amount of pleasure from seeing meat from our own red poll herd on the menu, Manor Farm rapeseed oil in the kitchen or even, vegetables from my mother’s garden.”

James continues: “It seems appropriate that last year we were all about being a “hotel” and providing excellence in terms of accommodation and service.  This year it is all about our great tasting food.  The fact that we have been finalists for both categories in such quick succession is a credit to the hard work of Hayley and Chris Lee and their achievement in making both sides of the business such a notable success.”

Chef Chris Lee also recognises  that having a boss that is a farmer has many benefits: “ Having won Silver in 2009 for “hotel”, we thought long and hard about whether we should enter again but as food is the very heart of what The Bildeston Crown stands for, we could not resist going for the “Taste of England” award.  After all how many hotels or restaurants can truly say that have their very own farm just down the road, providing the very best lamb and fantastic Suffolk red poll beef?  Now that is truly using local food and a celebration of what is the Taste of England!”

Chris continues: “I love my job and it is fantastic that what we are doing at The Bildeston Crown, in terms of the food we are producing and the continued investment in the hotel itself,  is being recognised.  Suffolk food is the best and so The Bildeston Crown is extremely proud to bring the Taste of England Award to the county”

The Bildeston Crown was named “Best Restaurant” at Suffolk Food & Drink Awards 2010 as status as Suffolk’s only AA 3 rosette restaurant confirmed

It has been a great week for The Bildeston Crown in Suffolk. On Monday evening (27th September) at the AA Hospitality Awards, it was confirmed that the Suffolk inn’s restaurant had retained for the third year running, its AA 3 rosette status. It is the only restaurant in Suffolk to have three rosettes; there is no establishment in the county with more. The hotel side of the business also retained its three red stars.
Two days later (30th September) , management couple, Chris and Hayley Lee, were at the Suffolk Food & Drink Awards 2010 ceremony held at the West Wing, Ickworth. Together with owner James Buckle, they picked up the award for “Best Restaurant”.
The annual event, launched five years ago to recognise and celebrate the county’s champions of local food and drink, had eleven award categories this year. The “Best Restaurant” category is sponsored by Promotion Wine.
To select “Best Restaurant”, the public vote to create a shortlist of three nominees which are then visited by a team of judges who look for amongst other factors: inventive use of locally sourced produce; range of menu; presentation; evidence of specialist skills; strategies to show how customers are attracted and retained and evidence of national recognition.
Owner, farmer and businessman, James Buckle is thrilled with this success: “The Bildeston Crown is all about great tasting food and I give full credit to the talent, inspiration and hard work of Chris Lee and his team for putting us quite literally in a different league to our competition. As a Suffolk farmer, I am particularly pleased to see The Bildeston Crown recognized as a key player in the movement to highlight just how fantastic Suffolk’s food and drink really is and I am so proud that The Bildeston Crown has been acknowledged this year as the county’s “Best Restaurant”.
Chef Chris Lee is equally delighted:
“It has been an amazing year. I don’t know which pleases me more – the national recognition through the AA and the Taste of England Award last April or just simply enjoying the strong local support of customers and suppliers which drove the Suffolk competition. All I know is that  I love my job and it is fantastic that what we are doing at The Bildeston Crown, in terms of the food we are producing, is being enjoyed and recognised.”

2009 Taste of England Award

In October 2009 The Bildeston Crown acheived a new high when it won the prestigious “Taste of England Award” at East of England Enjoy England Awards for Excellence. Click here for the full story.

Named “Best Small Suffolk Hotel” in the Tourism in Suffolk Awards 2008, The Bildeston Crown also took the prize at the East of England Awards, achieving silver in the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in April 2009.

Currently the only restaurant in Suffolk with AA Three Rosettes, the hotel also boasts AA Three Red Stars.

National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence 2009

The Bildeston Crown was selected as one of three finalists in the Hotel category, which this year combines small and large hotels.


Winner – Best Small Hotel East of England 2008 Read more …


Winner – Best Small Suffolk Hotel 2008 Read more …

September 2008 – AA Three Red Stars


September 2007 – AA Three Rosettes

September 2007 – Chef Chris Lee named by The Good Food Guide joint winner of the up-and-coming chefs award for the whole country


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