The Thornhill Leeds: Meet the family behind the Calverley pub celebrating its 350th birthday
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The Thornhill was built more than 400 years ago and originally used as a coach house, before the pub was founded by Walter and Francis Calverley in 1673. Walter shared a name with his grandfather, famous for the Calverley murders of 1605.
Many of the building’s original features have been retained, including a 1673 stone archway with W.C and F.C carved into it. It’s even rumoured that there are secret tunnels running from the pub’s cellar down to Kirkstall Abbey.
Jamie and Sally Hanson have owned The Thornhill for almost 14 years and although it’s recently had a refurbishment, the couple are committed to retaining its old-school charm.
Jamie told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “The support from the community has been really, really good over the years. We’re both Calverley born and bred, we’ve lived here all our lives.
“Customers can expect a warm and friendly welcome. We serve traditional pub food but we also do modern twists on burgers, nachos, tacos, tapas and bar snacks. It’s a pretty wide-ranging menu from all over the world, with our twist on it.”
“Everything is homemade and fresh,” Jennah, the pub’s events and marketing manager, added. “We don’t just bang things in the microwave.”
The pub’s menus are created by Jamie and head chef James Carpenter, while Paris Richardson, Pippa Thornton and Rebecca Walker jointly manage the venue. There’s a real sense of community at the Town Gate boozer, which supplies colouring books and a full children’s menu, including dairy and gluten free options.
“We’re very family friendly and family orientated,” Jamie, 46, said. “It’s a real community hub.”
To celebrate the pub’s 350th birthday, the Thornhill is hosting a celebration this weekend with street food, a disco bouncy castle, drinks offers and family entertainment. The Dutch Pancake Company and the Tipsy Cocktail Truck will host pop-ups in the beer garden and there will be live music across Saturday and Sunday.
Jennah, 31, said: “It’s going to be a massive party. Our chefs have created a street food menu, including loaded fries, nachos and hot dogs, and we’ve got Disney princesses coming in on the Saturday to dance and do stick-on tattoos.”
Jamie and Sally, who lived in the pub with their children Thomas and Holly until very recently, saw the Thornhill through the Covid pandemic and now face the cost of living crisis. Jamie said it’s more important than ever to support local businesses.
“They’ll disappear otherwise,” he added. “It’s very tough at the minute, although we’re really busy, it’s still not a great time with the gas and electric prices - everything is mega expensive. The more support we get, the better.
“It’s more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle and a commitment. We’ve only recently moved out from living in the pub, so we’ve been here every night for more than 13 years. It’s not a job you can come and go home from, it’s more than that.”