For 361 days of the year, this sleepy Oxfordshire sanctuary measures out its time in pints pulled and downed, and steaks sizzled on stones. Sunday roasts are served on enormous square plates, which always come back clean. The perfect cheese ploughman's comes with a cute, little wooden-handled cheese knife. Attempt the bread and butter pudding and you'll have to be rolled home along the canal path.
Locals know it as a place for a lazy afternoon, a cracking plate of whitebait and some of the best kept ales in the area. Come early August, however, the drowsy beer garden becomes a music festival stage, with long-haired folkies spilling out into the tumbledown churchyard opposite and face-painted children racing wildly around the car park. As "fringe" venue for the Cropredy Folk Festival, the Red Lion miraculously turns into a combination of beer tent, food station and refuge from the rain for 20,000 fans of Fairport Convention.
On 9 August, the first day of the festival, the pub garden will feature a barbecue and a band called Spank the Monkey. The beer line-up always includes one from the local Hook Norton brewery, plus three guest ales. A recent favourite was Rooster's Yankee, one of the few beers secure enough in its own self-image to admit in its tasting notes that it absolutely reeks of lychees. Get in early for a seat in the terracotta-tiled dining room. Or roll up on Sunday 12 August to take part in the village vs Fairport cricket match.
The Red Lion, Cropredy, Banbury, Oxon (01295 750224)Reuse content