Monks Walk 7 years on - at the Heart of the CommunityWed 5th April 2023
On the 1st April 2016 Neil Pickford took the keys to the Monks Walk. Neil for many years had said to his wife Gill, "I just do not understand why Monks Walk is not a vibrant pub, a community pub, it has the history, the location, the ambience to be a great traditional Pub".
Neil was then Assistant Virger at Beverley Minster, he knew Monks Walk and its history, always kept an eye on what was happening with the pub, and in 2015 he became aware that it was up for sale.
He made enquiries and decided that the time was right for him to take on Monks Walk, to step up, overcome its chequered history and set about making it the Community Pub he thought it ought to be, where people could come for good drink and chatter.
Neil was a fan of Real Ale, and he had plans, he knew deep down that if he got the mix right, the pub would be a success and decided to put his plans into action.
So, in April 2016, Neil fulfilled his ambition to become landlord and started his plan to turn Monks Walk into his vision.
Keeping to the basic principles Neil started to improve the pub's reputation, with a mix of good beer, company and conversation. Sadly in July 2017 he fell ill and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in October 2017, while Monks Walk was still "work in progress".
Gill had some key decisions to make. Whilst they were renting the pub at the time, it was still up for sale. Gill said to the Boys, sons Gerald and Tim, "I would like to make Monks Walk your Dad’s Legacy, and fulfil his ambitions". With their support Gill was able to keep the pub going, and after strenuous efforts to purchase the pub, became the owner and licensee of Monks Walk on 29th March 2018, almost exactly 2 years after Neil had first taken the helm.
When Neil died the family realised that Neil was the only one who was able to hold the licence, so Gill set about gaining the necessary qualifications and passed the examinations in January 2018.
Gill said, "A big thank you goes to Richard Price who was at The Sun at the time for helping out and being a great support during this difficult period until I managed to get everything in place".
More recently Gill said, "As landlady and celebrating seven years at Monks Walk, we are delighted that we have recently been voted Runner-Up as Hull & East Riding CAMRA Town Pub of the Year and that we are included in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, this time for 2023. We are also proud to have hosted events for the Winter Stage4Beverley Festival, and pleased that once again we will be part of the Early Music Festival in May and be central to the Beverley Folk Festival in June.” In this way, one of the oldest venues in Beverley continues to provide art, culture and good fellowship, delivering on Neil's legacy.
Gill wants to keep Monks Walk as a community venue and to offer to regulars and visitors a place to relax and enjoy a unique piece of Beverley's history.
Monks Walk is one of the oldest pubs in Beverley, with parts of the building dating back to at least the 14th Century, and many stories have emerged over the years. The name suggests it was a place local monks used to frequent. Similar to those old days, Gill wants Monks Walk to be a place where people can enjoy a story or two, be entertained and experience the unique atmosphere of the historic building, as well as Good Beer, Good Company and Good Conversation.
In time, Gill hopes to sympathetically repair and restore all of this wonderful building to ensure the history is appreciated and captured for future generations to enjoy.
Gill said, "I want to make sure that customers of Monks Walk feel welcome and that our wonderful staff provide them with the hospitality and knowledge that is worthy of the building, so people recognise that they are experiencing a unique piece of Beverley’s history.
So, seven years on at Monks Walk and under the watchful eye of Neil, perhaps it is time for you to experience some of Beverley's history or to get involved with the cultural entertainment that Monks Walk has to offer.
Throughout the Spring and Summer the courtyard will often be home to entertainment in the form of easy listening, mostly acoustic music to accompany freshly prepared pizzas from the wood-fired pizza oven. These come with a pick-and-mix range of toppings and are delivered to your table to enjoy with a pint or a glass of wine.
There will also be the regular quiz night and bespoke niche events, hopefully including poetry. improvements and changes will continue to be made inside to move towards the restoration of Sunday lunches in the Autumn. Gill is well on the way to creating the legacy.
So when you pop into Monks Walk, just nod to Neil's picture on the windowsill or the door, and let him know what a great job the family are doing. If you leave via Highgate, Neil's silhouette will be watching over you to ensure you get home safely as you walk down the cobbled street.
(Read the whole article in issue 99 page 6 and 7).
Monks Walk, 19 Highgate, Beverley, HU17 0DN.
Tel: 01482 880871.