King's Head Inn staff celebrate family centenary
Sisters who are part of The King's Head Inn team are celebrating a real family centenary working with us.
Gillian Harland has worked at The King’s Head Inn since it opened 39 years ago, sister Lynne Simpson has 31 years under her belt, and their late mother Pauline Swalwell spent 25 years cooking at the inn and continued making its legendary Christmas mince pies for five years after she retired.
The family is responsible for many of our heritage dishes like Gillian's famous steak pie and stroganoff.
Gillian, from Great Ayton, is second chef at the Inn and joined when it originally opened as the King’s Head Hotel almost four decades ago. She worked alongside her mum, Pauline, who sadly passed away 15 years ago from a sudden aneurysm.
Gillian said: “Mum inspired both Lynne and I to work at The King’s Head, and we think about her every day.
“She was known for her gorgeous pastry and her technique of just going by weight and feel – she never used a pair of scales. I use her method to make the pastry for our steak pies in the Inn today. I never weigh anything – I just go by how it feels and the consistency.
“Her traditions are being passed down and I also make scones the traditional way.”
Gillian has added her own special touches to our menu, including her popular stroganoff, salmon hollandaise, duck breast with fruit gravy, towering Yorkshire puddings, and chicken and mushroom pies, with that extra special pastry.
Sister Lynne arrived at The King’s Head to help out when there was a staff shortage, and she’s been here ever since. She now looks after front of house.
She said: “They were short of staff and I came to help out because my mum asked me to.
“It was good working together. Mum would be over the moon we’ve racked up 100 years between the three of us. The King’s Head Inn was her life; she loved being here, because of the great atmosphere.
“We’ve inherited that love of the place as well. I love coming to work – there’s not many people can say that. I think mum would enjoy the atmosphere here today – there’s a real sense of warmth and welcome here. I do think of her every time I’m here.”
The family has seen some major changes since the Inn opened. The small kitchen where they originally worked has been enlarged and the dining facilities have been extended. The whole Inn was refurbished last year and four extra bedrooms added after it became part of The Inn Collection Group, which also has inns in Northumberland and County Durham.