‘Delight’ as South Downs village pub re-opens after six years

Black Horse owners Johnnie and Emma Kennedy, left, with head chef Tom Hayler and general manager Johnny Robinson
Black Horse owners Johnnie and Emma Kennedy, left, with head chef Tom Hayler and general manager Johnny Robinson

Residents in Amberley are celebrating following the reopening of their village pub after a six year battle to save it from redevelopment.

The Black Horse in Amberley closed in 2012 and its future looked bleak - until villagers formed the Amberley Black Horse Action Group and banded together with other residents and Amberley Parish Council to save it.

Reopening of Black Horse pub at Amberley. Pic Steve Robards SR1831694 SUS-180412-104620001

Reopening of Black Horse pub at Amberley. Pic Steve Robards SR1831694 SUS-180412-104620001

After being declared a ‘Community Asset’ it was finally bought in 2016 by publicans Johnnie and Emma Kennedy.

And after extensive refurbishment the couple reopened the much-loved pub on Saturday - and delighted villagers packed out the hosterlry.

“We were full on Saturday and Sunday nights,” said Emma, who with husband Johnnie previously developed and owned both the Vintage Rose Café in Storrington and The Welldiggers Arms in Petworth,

“The villagers have supported us really well and all seem really delighted that we have reopened. Everyone seems really happy and someone said to me that they hadn’t realised quite how much it was at the heart of the village,” said Emma.

“People are saying that they are really pleased to have a place again where they can meet up. It’s great.”

Saturday night’s pub menu saw people tucking into lobster and steak with a range of other grills available. Sunday lunch featured three types of roast - lamb, beef and chicken.

“We want to provide traditional English fare with things like a pie or shepherd’s pie - pub classics,” said Emma.

As well as the installation of a new dining room, Emma and Johnnie are also adding a new ‘garden room’. “We want to encourage people walking or cycling the South Downs to enjoy a more casual dining experience. People can pop in for sandwiches or quiches and we also have a pizza oven,” said Emma.

It is planned to open the garden room on Sunday and Monday evenings when the main restaurant is closed.

The pub will also provide accommodation with 11 new bedrooms which should be completed in January or February.

The Black Horse is open seven days a week from 11am - 11pm. Tel 01798 8311183.