IT'S the family-run pub retreat at the heart of a New Forest community with outdoor TV and an aviary.

The Stag Hotel is a grade II listed building nestled in the National Park on Lyndhurst's bustling High Street.

The Harris family, Steve, Maria and Nathalie, have just celebrated a year at the helm of The Stag in a lovely historical full circle.

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In 1927, the Harris family ran the pub, which was built on the site of the old coaching inn.

Now, almost 100 years on, the Harris name has returned with the team breathing new life into this glorious public house.

The purchase went through during lockdown, meaning all the major renovations could be completed in time for a grand reopening (with restrictions) in April 2021.

The business has gone from strength to strength since then and a first birthday party included free fun for all the community from face painting to a bouncy castle and lots of live music.

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They've built up a loyal following of regulars who all pay for their drinks, unlike a well-known local of the past.

Artist John Emms frequented the bar for a tipple of whisky almost daily in the 1890s and could never afford to pay his bill, so he settled his tab with a piece of art named The New Forest Buckhounds. The 24 inches by 30 inches picture failed to reach the minimum bid of £80,000 at Sotheby's in London in 1997 but has since sold in the States for 162,500 dollars (£112,519).

The Harris family are all about investing in the community and sponsored last year's Lyndhurst Christmas lights, as well as charity matches for Lyndhurst FC and the village community centre.

"We have a real passion for the community and want our guests to feel so at home and welcome here that they keep coming back again and again," they said.

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The Stag's menu boasts a wide range of dishes which are all home-cooked, fresh to plate using locally sourced produce. The most popular dishes include The Stag Burger, pie of the day, Sunday roasts, tapas sharing boards and the summer staple the ploughman's board.

Meals tend to be washed down with a range of IPAs and two for the price of one cocktails or any other of the wide selection of beers, ales, spirits and wine.

A large newly renovated beer garden with a heated courtyard boasts a large outdoor television, grass area, outdoor bar and a chicken and bird aviary.

The Stag hosts a weekly 'Chase the Ace' contest, a monthly quiz night and regular live music. They also show all major sporting events in the bar, restaurant and outdoors. Burlesque and casino nights also took place in December. It was a time of celebration as the Christmas lights returned to Lyndhurst.

"After such dark times during Covid, the community wasn’t sure they would ever see the return of the traditional High Street lights and we were able to make that happen," said Nathalie.

"The light switch on was one of the community's first events after Covid and it was truly amazing to see just how much the lights meant to the Lyndhurst community and so many people celebrating."

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