IT'S the pub at the heart of the community which turned greengrocer during lockdown to continue to serve its locals.

Three weeks after its enforced coronavirus closure, The Hiltonbury Farmhouse in Chandlers Ford launched the Farmhouse to Home website delivering fresh food and groceries to homes.

Shoppers could also add to care packages then delivered to the ambulance headquarters at Otterbourne and NHS staff from Southampton and Winchester hospitals.

"We certainly got through a lot of toilet rolls and tinned tomatoes," laughs owner Rob Preston. "But we found that people's shopping habits soon changed and they were wanting the really good quality meats we can source, plus fruit and vegetables, cheese and deli goods.

"Our customers really got behind it. We had some costs we still had to meet and we weren't sure what help we were going to get at that stage so it definitely helped us to get through that difficult period."

The Farmhouse to Home brand will be back for good in a few weeks' time.

The pub has reopened and its famous pizzas are back on a limited menu after proving a takeaway treat during lockdown. Current favourites include chicken wings, burgers and quiches, but cote de boeuf and Test trout will be back soon.

Estrella is the most popular lager with the Flack Manor ales brewed in Romsey enjoyed by many. Fifty gins are available, including local gins, with craft lagers also on tap.

The family-friendly venue has a lively atmosphere on weekend evenings and the new outdoor booths are proving popular. Monthly quizzes, the annual festival and occasional murder mystery nights will return.

Rob took over the Punch Taverns venue three years ago. It had been shut for two years before that and has been a pub since 1984. The building itself appears on maps from the 16th Century and was once a farmhouse for the Hiltonbury Jersey herd.

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