DRINKERS often like to claim that their favourite boozer is a one-off – but the Crown Stirrup is truly unique.

The pub is the only one named after an ancient object that was used to decide which villagers could take their dogs hunting in the New Forest in the 11th century.

Those small enough to squeeze through the iron stirrup were considered harmless.

But larger animals were banned from chasing deer in case they posed a threat to the hunting enjoyed by King William Rufus.

The original device still hangs in the Court of Verderers, part of the 17th century Queen’s House in Lyndhurst. Its lasting legacy is the only pub in the country called the Crown Stirrup.

Formerly a cottage built in the 1500s, the pub is next to the busy A337 at Clay Hill, Lyndhurst.

But the building is set back from the road and the large beer garden at the rear is surrounded by scenic woodland, giving the popular watering hole a truly rural look.

While other country pubs have been modernised and enlarged, the Crown Stirrup has managed to retain its old fashioned charm.

Low ceilings, simple decor and a traditional log fire make it a haven for both residents and visitors to the Forest. A footpath at the back leads all the way to Brockenhurst, making it an ideal venue for people seeking a country walk followed by a pub lunch.

The new owner is 43-year-old Michael Wells, who took over from Colin Flitter a month ago.

Previously a general manager employed by Greene King, Mr Wells’s previous pubs include the Shamblehurst Barn in Hedge End and the Rising Sun in Warsash. Now, after 15 years in the industry, he has decided to go it alone.

He bought the Crown Stirrup after making several visits at various times of the day to get the feel of the place.

“I love the New Forest and I love old pubs,” he said.

“The Crown Stirrup had a cosy atmosphere as well as a big garden with a lot of potential for family events.”

Aided by barman Ash Whitehead and the new head chef, Loraine Bellamy, Mr Wells aims to build on the pub’s success and is already attracting new business.

“I’ve got a completely new kitchen team and I’m planning to launch a new menu in the next two or three weeks,” he said.

“I’ve already changed the decor and I’m hoping to add a garden room and a carvery unit.”

Mr Wells and his partner are also planning to give the pub a splash of colour by adding hanging baskets and other features.

  • The Crown Stirrup, Clay Hill, Lyndhurst, SO43 7DE.
  • 023 8028 2272.