The Poacher Inn in South Warnborough has seen landlords come and go, but the arrival of John and Jayne Keyworth in May 2019 has transformed this countryside pub into a thriving business at the heart of the community.

Both having vast experience in the hospitality industry, they have been able to steer The Poacher Inn in the right direction, away from the fate many pubs around the country have amounted to.

An article from The Guardian in July 2022 states that the total number of pubs has dropped below 40,000 in the first half of this year. According to the British Beer and Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping, and UK Hospitality, only 37 per cent of hospitality businesses are able to turn a profit.

So what allows this pub in the Hampshire countryside to stay afloat despite the cost of living crisis, high inflation and energy rates soaring?

The formula is to create a fine balance between countryside drinking, real ale and fresh traditional food, but also with events that bring together the local community of South Warnborough and attract people from the surrounding area and beyond.

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Live music once a month has become a triumph at the Poacher. Sourcing mainly upbeat acoustic artists from Hampshire, the pub has been supporting local talent. Most recently, the Poacher hosted Eva Iglesias, who ended up turning the bar into a dance floor for the night.

The upcoming ‘Family Festival’ on August, 6 between 12-6pm will be hosting four different local talent musicians, as well as a barbeque, bouncy castle, garden games and an outdoor bar.

Rock and Roll Bingo and pub quiz nights are enjoyed bi-monthly by the locals, creating some competition between guests and entertainment for the night while having a drink.

If music and quizzes are not your thing, there is plenty of opportunities to come in for a quiet drink and a meal to catch up with friends and family. Dogs are also welcome to join in the fun.

There is a choice between the restaurant, the bar and a beer garden in order for guests to choose their own atmosphere while they enjoy traditional pub food served seven days a week. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are also always available, plus homemade specials daily.

This charming pub is easily accessible via the Alton Road, so guests can experience the countryside without having to trek too far. Five cosy rooms are also available for those who need a place to stay.

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County Councillor Juliet Henderson, who has lived in the village for more  twenty years, is a loyal customer of The Poacher Inn. 

She said: “The Poacher Pub is much more than just a drinking place. It is a community hub where people can gather to meet other people and to get support if needed. During lockdown, John and Jayne were an integral part of our village providing hot meals for villagers. 

“The pub participates in village life fully, helping with fundraising for different activities and facilities. It is a place of hospitality and welcome. I remember that during the power cuts we all gathered around the fire at the Poacher and they couldn’t take money for drinks so we all came the following day and paid. There is a level of trust and companionship. Pubs are part of community life; they are so much more than drinking holes. A successful pub is welcoming, hospitable and part of the community. This sums up the Poacher completely.” 

To find out more about the Family Festival, or to book a table go to or visit

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