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The Alice Lisle, Rockford
IT could just be one of the bestkept secrets in the New Forest.
But although this picturesque pub is situated in a far off corner of the national park, it shares a famous name with a character from the past.
Alice Lisle was beheaded in 1685 for harbouring fugitives of the Battle of Sedgemoor at her Moyles Court home in Rockford.
Luckily the owners of the pub that now bears her name appear to have their heads well and truly screwed on.
Nestled in chocolate-box scenery, The Alice Lisle Inn backs on to Blashford Lakes and features an enormous beer garden complete with its own play area and aviary.
The former school was converted in to a pub in the 1960s and now has outdoor seating for 450 and can handle around 180 covers inside.
Despite its rural setting, word of mouth and a blossoming reputation for fine seasonal food has ensured that the place is rammed in summer. Up to 32 staff, including six chefs, work flat out on busy weekends to cater for those in the know.
And its quaint setting has also proved a lure for a number of celebrity sportsmen.
Former England Rugby star Dean Richards has been known to drop in for a pint, while Saints legend Matt Le Tissier has also been spotted in the beer garden.
Landlord Alan Dyson, 50, and his wife Maxine took up the reins two years ago and instantly knew they were on to a winner.
Alan said: “This side of the Forest is a real kept secret – it is not like Lyndhurst or Brockenhurst which are busy and bustling. This side is nice and quiet.
“Even when you ask some people in Ringwood, they say, ‘The Alice Lisle? Where’s that?’ and Ringwood is only a few miles down the road.
“I just love the Forest – we could not wish to live anywhere better.”