West Dorset nettle-eating bash a stinging success

Dorset Echo: A large crowd watches as contestants in the nettle eating contest tuck in at the George Inn, Chideock Buy this photo » A large crowd watches as contestants in the nettle eating contest tuck in at the George Inn, Chideock

HUNDREDS of brave contestants munched on nettles for a very peculiar Dorset contest.

The Great Dorset Nettle Eating Competition was held at the George pub in Chideock.

Landlord Steve Smith said it was a great success with 500 to 600 people enjoying the festivities, including live music.

Sam Cunningham claimed the honours when he ate a total of 54 feet of nettles.

The spiritual home of Dorset nettle eating is actually a few miles away at Bottle Inn at Marshwood, but the pub closed last year prompting the George to hold its own competition.

It has now been revealed the Bottle Inn will reopen on July 14 for the World Nettle Eating Championships, which in the past has attracted attention and consumers of hedgerow vegetation from across the globe.

After a long saga of issues, which have seen previous landlords leave and the pub closed, tenant Chris Thomas and business partner Nigel Blake and his wife Chrissy are set to give the historic Bottle Inn a new lease of life.

West Dorset District Council had imposed an enforcement notice on owners Mike and Pauline Brookes, who live in Australia, to make a number of repairs to the Grade II listed building.

Mr Thomas and Mr Blake have decided to join forces and take on some renovations, with a view to turning the Bottle back into a community pub.

Mr Thomas said: “A few weeks ago a good friend of mine suggested that we should in fact continue the plans from last year and join forces and continue the renovations and push on, which is exactly what we are doing.”

Steve Smith at the George said he was pleased that the Bottle was re-opening to hold its world championships – adding that the George would not hold a contest as long as the Bottle was open.

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