The Rising Sun, Woolaston Common: Fab, wholesome and homemade Pies!

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John & Maria are seasoned pub owners, having been in the trade for 30 years and they have owned the Rising Sun, Woolaston, for 5 years. The pub (like John and Maria!) has plenty of character. This stone building is 400 years old and is located in the beautiful countryside that flanks this part of the River Severn. So, as you’d expect, the garden has spectacular views and it gets very busy in the summer.

Landlady Maria: legendary fundraising events!

Maria is a keen cyclist and fundraiser. She’s just beginning training for a London to Paris bike ride for charity in September this year (2015) to raise money for an oncology unit in Bristol, so eyes peeled for the Just Giving link! In fact, Maria’s generosity has become legendary with locals, who flock to the Rising Sun for her fundraising events.

Posh Sausage & Mash Night

Maria loves to cycle and raise money for worthy causes. She held a Posh Sausage & Mash Night last year (2014), for the Ride into the Night, Women Vs. Cancer campaign – and the sausages and potatoes both came from local farms! The men rocked up to this country pub in their dinner jackets, ready to enjoy some top-notch bangers and mash. In fact, you’d be amazed at how well she does. It’s hard to believe that a small local country pub with a capacity of only 54 can raise over £3000 with a fundraising event.

A plate of Maria's homemade pies, looking delicious!
Maria makes some of the best homemade pies to be found in the Forest of Dean!

It’s all about Maria’s famous pies

People go to the Rising Sun for the atmosphere, drink and food. In fact, the pies are particularly popular. In fact, it’s all about the pies – which can only be described as “proper”! In fact, the main attraction, Maria’s ‘House Steak Pie’ is even called “proper” on the menu.

People rave about Maria’s pies. “I didn’t know the pies would take off like this,” says Maria.

Inside The Rising Sun, a traditional pub with wooden fixtures
The Rising Sun is a a traditional English pub with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere – it also has the names and strengths of ales above the bar

Quality meat!

The meat comes from A&H Jones butchers in Tutshill (Formerly G&P Roser) and is sourced from local farms, so it’s good and fresh. She also serves steaks, and she reports that she’s never had a single complaint about the ones from this particular butcher.

The beauty of buying local

“We get our meat from the local butcher, who gets it from local farms. Then, they come down here for a pint and something to eat,” says Maria. This is just illustrates what we find so appealing about people using local ingredients and supporting local businesses!

More about the pies…

Maria also makes steak and stilton, steak and kidney, chicken and leek and occasionally game pies when game is in season. Maria also says that she impressed some Welsh visitors so much, that they asked her to cook them a game pie next time they visit. Apparently, they’ll phone ahead before they set off and she’ll start prepping the ingredients for one of her famous pies, so it’s ready on arrival!

She even adorns her pies with pastry decorations! They're made with love.
She even adorns her pies with pastry decorations! They’re made with love.

A loyal clientele…

Maria and John have a great clientele of loyal regulars who come for her legendary pies and home cooked food, quiz nights, fundraising events and the friendly atmosphere. However, there are also a few holiday lets round this way, so they also get trade from tourists during the summer and the feedback is extremely positive!

The CAMRA connection

Whilst Maria and John have been minding their business and just running their pub, unbeknownst to them, CAMRA has been sending their spies to check them out – and they liked what they saw! So much so, that they will soon be presenting them with the CAMRA Pub of the Year local award.

Grab some fab local ale at the bar...
Grab some fab local ale at the bar…

Why CAMRA loves The Rising Sun

So, what is it that impressed CAMRA so much? Well, they obviously sell some local ales, like Wye Valley Ale, and they do a guest ale too. They get a couple of barrels in at a time for the guest ale, in order to offer more variety. CAMRA was impressed by the display of the names and strengths of ales above the bar– this goes down extremely well with the real ale enthusiast!

Home cooked food – not microwaved!

Then, of course, there’s the home cooked food. The pies are rustic looking (with little pastry decorations on the lids) and the rest of the food is home cooked too (aside from scampi and cod). Maria makes her own lasagna and cooks large joints of gammon for the menu’s ‘Ham, Egg & Chips’! Maria reuses her meat juices for the gravy in her slow cooked pies and keeps the stock from chicken and pheasant to reuse in her cooking.

“I’m a cook, not a chef.” Says Maria – and she is an extremely talented cook at that, with a penchant for no nonsense, tasty and filling grub – just the kind that goes well with good friends and a pint! In fact, they have excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and people absolutely love her food!

Maria is proud of her pies - and rightly so. We can all agree that they are outstanding!
Maria is proud of her pies – and rightly so. We can all agree that they are outstanding!

As well as serving “proper” pies, the Rising sun is what you would call a “proper” pub. It’s comfortable, welcoming and there’s no blaring TVs or music that’s too loud to have a conversation over. Anyway, who needs distractions when you have delicious home cooked food, real ale and good company?

You could say that John and Maria make the perfect landlord and landlady. This friendly and relaxed couple makes running a pub look easy with their unflappable demeanors. However, Maria will be the first to tell you that it’s not as easy as it looks!

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

So, what have Maria and John got planned for this year? Well, it’s largely a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s already a fantastic pub (worthy of a CAMRA pub of the year award), so they’ll be sticking to serving their fresh, no nonsense grub, as they already enjoy a good, steady local trade. The quiz nights for locals take place on a Wednesday and Maria has curry nights to help raise money for charity.

Locals all agree that this little pub is one of the hidden gems of the Forest of Dean!
Locals all agree that this little pub is one of the hidden gems of the Forest of Dean!

Always open when they say they will be!

The Rising Sun always shuts at 10:30pm without fail. It can be frustrating to find that the pub has closed early – this is one thing that can put people off. It’s no secret that the pub trade has taken a knock in recent years. So, what does Maria make of this? Well, she has noticed a knock on effect from the smoking ban. However, it’s a far less popular habit than it used to be, and she wouldn’t want smoking inside the pub – even if it was legal. The drink driving legislation also keeps people out of rural pubs. So, Maria advises, “If you have a local, it’s a case of use it or lose it.”

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