Public House of the Month




The oldest inn in Dorset, the Crown Hotel is set in a magnificent Georgian house, and is said to be haunted by a women in black and a cloaked highwayman who was shot dead in the courtyard. 


Tel: 01258 456 626

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast Served
  • Meeting Room
  • Free Wifi
  • Car Park
  • Garden
  • Historic Location
  • Dogs Allowed
  • Vouchers


Posted on November 2014

Dave and Katherine Norton are the General Managers at the Crown Hotel in Blandford Forum, Dorset. They have been living and working in the hotel for a year and a half. Katherine is currently on maternity leave with their second child, so we caught up with Dave to see what life is like, running a hotel.


So how did you start out in the hospitality industry?

I had a part-time job in a pub whilst I was working as an engineer, and it was then that I met my wife, Katherine. We both enjoyed the hospitality business so much; we decided to make a career out of it!

And how long have you been the General Manager of this pub?

We’ve been at the Crown since July 2013. It is the first hotel we’ve run together, so it’s been a new and exciting challenge for us.

In what ways are your previous jobs different from your current one?

We’ve worked in chalets in France, and pubs in Greece and Turkey. After travelling and working in Europe, we moved back to Bournemouth on the sea front, and then to the World’s End in Almer. We were there for five and a half years, and we loved working there. Our team were really close, almost like family, and the pub won awards for its popularity and it was a chapter of our lives that we are really proud of. We are working every day to maintain the (understandably) high expectations of our Guests here at the Crown, and aim to make it a favourite for everyone.

So what is the best part about managing the Crown Hotel?

Lots of General Managers might say this but – no two days are the same. The essence of the industry is that you meet new people and are presented with different rewards and challenges every single day. It requires pulling together lots of different skills to manage a hotel like this, and I think Katherine and I are a great team.

How do you think your Team sums up the Hall & Woodhouse values?

Our team works very hard to take every opportunity to make people’s day. Sometimes it’s a matter of doing little things to appreciate our Guests. One of our regular Guests likes to sit at a certain table every week, so we make sure it’s always free for her at that time. She doesn’t always make a reservation, but our team knows how much it means to her to be made welcome. Other times it’s about pushing ourselves to ‘go the extra mile’ like changing our style of service for a function, to make things exactly the way the host would like.

Tell us more about The Crown Hotel, what is special about your pub?

The hotel has been described by some as a beautiful old lady. She’s full of character, with elegant features and good old-fashioned style. We are really lucky to have a self-contained function suite too, with its own bar and kitchen. This means that we can cater for large numbers, and that Hall & Woodhouse can hold their big awards nights, such as the AGM and the Business Partnership Gala Awards.

How is your pub part of the local community?  And who comes to visit your hotel?

We host the Blandford Rotary Club here on a regular basis, and have done for many years. The Ladies and Men’s Probus also hold their meetings here, and we support other charities where we can. We also host the Blood Donation clinic in our function suite. The Crown’s central location and plenty of space to gather makes it a hub of activity all year round.

If I were to buy you a drink from the bar, what would you like?

Pint of our ‘best bitter’, First Call or our delicious seasonal ale. We have Ruby Rustler on draught at the moment, and it’s a cracker!

What would you order to eat with your drink of choice?

Cote de Boeuf to share, as it’s new to our seasonal menu and it’s a show-stopping dish; a real piece of theatre!

What’s your favourite season of the year at the pub?

It’s got to be summer. Our garden really comes alive when the weather is fine. You can really see people enjoying themselves, and it’s a pleasure to be able to offer our Guests somewhere to unwind after a hard working week. It means working extra hard to make sure that even when there are queues out of the door, every pint is perfectly poured, and every dish is hot and tasty.

Thanks for your time Dave, we wish you and Katherine all the best for the future, and for your new arrival!