Cockleford, COWLEY, Cheltenham, GL53 9NW
With a pretty rose and creeper-covered Cotswold-stone façade, this building was recorded as an inn in 1675. However it was 1710 before Robert Jones, a churchwarden, became the first landlord, splitting his time between pew and pulling pints for the next 31 years. Today the secluded patio overlooking a lake is an obvious spot to head for in summer. Step inside the stone-flagged Mouse Bar and you will notice that each piece of English oak furniture features a carved mouse, the trademark of Robert Thompson, the Mouseman of Kilburn. He died in 1955, but North Yorkshire craftsmen continue the tradition. There's even one of the little beggars running along the bar edge in front of the Butcombe, Hook Norton and Sharp's beer handles. A range of lunchtime sandwiches includes coronation chicken, while light meals have popular appeal: braised faggots with mashed potato and onion gravy, for example; or home-cooked ham with two free-range fried eggs and fries. Weather permitting, food and drink can be served on the patio. A typical evening meal choice could start with warm chicken liver, pigeon breast and quail egg salad with smoked bacon and croûtons. Continue with an oven-roasted hake fillet with a herb cheese crust. Children are catered for with a range of favourites. The comfortable and individually furnished en suite bedrooms, and the St George's Suite (which has its own sitting room overlooking Cowley lakes), make the Green Dragon an ideal base for exploring the Cotswolds; the local Miserden Gardens and Chedworth Roman Villa should not be missed.