The Bush Inn
By Peter Carne
Approached by narrow, tree-lined lanes and well hidden from the world outside until you actually arrive there, Ovington's records stretch back to the time when land here was granted by King Edgar to a bishop of Winchester. Of Anglo-Saxon origin, its name means 'a place above' and might equally imply 'a place apart' from the hurly-burly of modern life, so steeped in calm does it remain. Clustering cottages and farm buildings are overlooked by a 19th-century church dedicated to St Peter. Just to the north of the present steepled building stood its Norman predecessor, of which the entrance arch is all that has been preserved where it always was, although the square font was transferred to the church we now see. Early 20th-century Ovington was a self-contained community with a working mill, a forge and a village bakery. Today the main center of what might be called workaday activity is its riverside pub, the Bush Inn.
Tradition has it that The Bush Inn was a stopping place for pilgrims enroute to Canterbury, although how they can ever have found it seems today a matter of mystery, so well secluded is it that few modern travelers can claim to have discovered it purely by chance. Yet people come here from all over Hampshire and well beyond, attracted by its reputation as a place apart, like the little village on the edge of which it lies. The 'olde-worlde' style is seen throughout the inn. High-back seats, a central bar, three real fires in winter and a waterside garden where you can sit out in warmer weather are distinctive features, and the pub's dark interior provides an ideal setting for cozy tête-à-tête meals and meetings. Brews on tap include Wadworths 6X & Henry's IPA.
Good home-made food is a hallmark here. Game in season, including pheasant, partridge and venison, and local river trout are Bush Inn specialties, along with a good range of starters, vegetarian dishes and sweets. Soups, sandwiches and ploughman's with home-made bread are very popular with walkers.