THE National Trust opened a new restaurant at Avebury in time for Christmas, following a complete reconstruction of the old cafe, which was damaged by severe winter weather.
In February 2018 much of the South West was plunged into a frozen world of snow and ice as sub-zero temperatures hit. The so-called “Beast from the East” closed roads and left Avebury and its world-famous archeological sites completely cut off.
Days later, as temperatures rose and the snow retreated, it became clear that the Trust’s café in the village had suffered catastrophic damage. The restoration project was difficult because of the building’s history and location in a former stable block attached to a Grade 1 listed barn, within the bank of Avebury Henge, a scheduled prehistoric monument in the World Heritage Site.
The work was led by operations manager Eva Stuetzenberger. She says: “Sad as we were to see the old café destroyed, it provided us with an opportunity to re-build the space with our visitors at the heart of our thinking. The new upstairs seating area of the building grants unrivalled views onto the stone circle; combined with an extended menu offer, including many local dishes.”
During the reconstruction, the Trust faced a momentous task to provide food and drink for the many thousands of visitors to Avebury, says food and beverage manager Toby Waite: “It was a bit of a challenge, to say the least. We had to set up a pop-up café in the old education room and it’s a testament to the team that many of our visitors had no idea that it was a temporary café at all.
“We’re all so excited to have the new restaurant open at last, with hugely improved facilities. We can now offer a much wider range of food and seat more people, which is why we’re renaming it a restaurant rather than a café.”
Pictured: The view from the window of the new Circles Restaurant; ©National Trust / Emma Weston