Helen Browning at The Royal Oak

Eccentric, professional, noisy, scruffy, informal, warm, generous, funny, superb. Some of the terms that our customers use about us. Horrible, horrible. horrible was the expression used by one Trip Advisor scribe a couple of years ago, but her husband/boyfriend did come back 15 minutes later and apologise for her behaviour, rather than lambast us for our behaviour. She was odd.

a warm welcome at the Royal Oak

Our glorious pub, The Royal Oak in Bishopstone, near Swindon

The Royal Oak at Bishopstone, Wiltshire

This is a pub that serves excellent local real ales; sometimes world class food and almost always good food; that employs wholly local people, who welcome you into the place as if it’s your, or their, front room. At the right time of year there’s a proper fire; and there’s always newspapers, magazines, books to borrow. Superb coffees, nice teas, unusual and often organic soft drinks from Belvoir, Frobisher’s, Crabbies. Not a J2O in the house.

Please be aware that unfortunately it is a difficult pub to access for disabled users, but our staff are willing to assist wherever possible and suitable. Call ahead and ask us, if you can.

Food from the farm – depending on the time of year, our own beef and veal; occasionally our own lamb; always our own pork, and bacon and sausages; our own small allotment occasionally produces some interesting veg. Milk comes via Berkely Farm five miles away – they process Eastbrook’s milk, and we buy it back as pasteurised milk and cream; plus staggeringly yellow butter! 90% of what we cook with is organic, and probably 90% could also be described as local, according to anyone’s definition.

atmosphere at the Royal Oak

Nice words

Loved by Good Food Guide, Good Pub Guide, 2009-2012
Alastair Sawdays Special Places, 2009-2013, Gold Award Winner 2010
Michelin Good Food in Pubs, 2009-2012
Waitrose Kitchen; ‘Best place for a family meal’ Dec 2011
The Times Top 50 UK Pubs Jan 2011

Quirky bits

    • B&B bedrooms – en suite, TV, simple, views over the award winning car park, warm, cheap and cheerful. Just two of them.
    • Toilets – they work, they are clean, we inherited them.
    • The bartering system – in an average year, as many as 20 or so local villagers and Swindonites trade bags/sacks/buckets/boxes of their home grown produce for our food and drink. We keep a book.
    • Garden – not completely manicured; eclectic non-matching furniture. Noisy cockerels and hens; rope swing for children; interesting wendy wooden house for small kids during daylight hours, and young teenagers after dark. Lots of space to lie on the damp grass.
The Royal Oak garden
  • Dogs – the more the merrier, if they behave as well as their owners.
  • Staff – just great. They think this is their place, they want to put their stamp all over it, and the place is better for it.
  • Children – bespoke food most of the time, if that’s what they want or all they will eat.
  • Burgers and hot dogs in the garden – From May onwards, Friday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime, our beautiful Flying Pig will serve our lovely burgers and hot dogs for those of you happy to sit in the sunshine or showers.
  • Sustainability – in 2011, when we applied to the Sustainable Restaurant Association for their ‘stars’ awards, we were at that stage one of only four establishments in the country (out of 400 members) to achieve 3 Stars—the top award.
  • Wiltshire Wildlife Trust – Highly Commended Feb 2012 Corporate Green Awards; for our overall recycling/sustainable polices, on the farm and at the pub.
Sticky Ribs at The Royal Oak

Our suppliers – Helen’s the boss, and we obviously use her stuff whenever it is available; but we also like Laverstoke Park for its buffalo milk products, and chicken; Berry Butchers/Paul Wicks, who finds us great Wiltshire grass fed beef when our own is in short supply; Clive Hill’s lamb and mutton; Coleshill Organics for the veg, and eggs; Wing Fish at Newlyn for their careful fish supplies – we trust Rob Wing not to sell us anything endangered, and we chat to him often about his cod policies!

Drinks – always 3 superb real ales from Arkell’s, sometimes from Donnington Brewery; organic soft drinks from Belvoir, Big Tom and others; organic wines from Vintage Roots – huge commendations for their Malbec house red and their glorious Fleury champagne; a superb range of gins (Hendricks, Gordons, Juniper Green, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire) and whiskies, usually at least a dozen blends and malts.

What we’re good at:

Parties – generous, gregarious, noisy, chatty, semi private or public, bespoke. Just ask. From two of you to 45 of you. And garden barbecues if you like, just for you.

What we’re not good at:

Parties where lots of people who want sparkling water and a piece of toast after a morning’s walk insist on paying their £4.27 individually by credit card. That’s just cynical of me and I wish I’d never said it.

The Royal Oak


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Pub hotline: 01793 790481

the flippin' clock

opening times in the pub

Monday to Friday:
noon to 3.00pm
food noon to 2.30pm

Evening service
food 6.00-9.30pm, Mon-Fri

Open all day from noon to midnight
food noon to 3.00pm
and 6.00pm to 9.30pm

Open from noon to 8.00pm
food noon-6.00pm

We hope to see you!

See today’s menu

old faithful

how to find us:

Bishopstone is about 8 miles east of Swindon, 10 miles west of Wantage. In the village is a large duckpond. If the pond is on the right, the next lane on the left is Cues Lane. The Royal Oak is 50 yards down there on the right. The car park is beyond it and round the back.

Please be aware that unfortunately it is a difficult pub to access for disabled users, but our staff are willing to assist wherever possible and suitable. Call ahead and ask us, if you can.