The Voting Tree is now re-opening, providing light lunches as before but now with a new evening service and weekend roasts. Our in-house chef is providing a new and improved menu for both lunch and dinner and we now have a selection of excellent wines, beers and ciders to enjoy alongside your meal.
We are prepared for the one metre+ Covid regulations with a reduced seating area to accommodate the changes. Inside seating consists of three tables for two, and one for groups of five, four and three. There is also a new outdoor space with large picnic benches for seating on sunnier days.
Booking is advised to avoid disappointment and essential for roasts.
Any group bookings are expected to be from only one socially safe bubble or as current guidelines state. Tracking details will be checked upon booking. Please understand that whilst accommodating for new regulations you may be sent away if we are full.
Wednesday - Saturday: 11:30-16:00 and 18:30-22:00
Our opening hours accommodate our new lunchtime and evening menus. To find out more take a look at our menus page to see what we offer.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is there disabled access?
Yes, we have disabled access. Please let a member of staff know on arrival so we can accommodate you.
Are dogs allowed
Well behaved dogs are welcome, but must be leashed at all times
Are there vegetarian/vegan options?
Yes. We have a range of options. Feel free to take a look on our menu page.
Is there WIFI access?
There is. We provide free WIFI access to all customers.
Can I pay by card?
Yes. We take both chip and pin and contactless payments.
It is believed that Bedford House is the oldest house in Bere Alston. Even now the wood pinned roof rafters remain and are dated from around the 15th century. Part of the building at the rear of the property is believed to be a 16th century porch.
A cavalry sword was found under the eves when the roof was changed from thatch to tiles. It currently resides on the wall of the great hall at Cotehele House.
If you take a look at the chimneys you will see the bow from the stone and cob walls as they rise, with a draw hole on the rear chimney to help ventilation.
As with many of the older houses in the village, there is a well on the property and a culvert running beneath the courtyard.
It is believed that the building has been many things including a pub, butchers, grocers and a milk store for the local milkman.
Prof Chris Smart of Exeter University believes that Bere Alston may well be the oldest “Planned” mining town in the country, with early mining for silver and lead and arsenic soon after. Even as early as 1300 CE the Bere Peninsula was renowned for its silver and lead mines. We even had Viking visitors.
Behind the name
Bere Alston was first summoned to return MPs in 1584. Like many of the boroughs over the county boundary in Cornwall that were enfranchised during the reign of Elizabeth I, it had never been of much size and was a rotten borough from the start.
The borough consisted of most of the village of Bere Alston in the parish of Bere Ferrers.
By the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832 there were 112 houses within the borough boundaries, and 139 in the whole village. The population was not separately recorded in the census. It was customary for elections to be conducted under a great tree in the centre of the village. This was called the “Voting Tree”. There was no equivalent of a town hall so other community meetings were also held here.
Folklore has it that our tree was an Oak and was situated somewhere around what is now Langman Court on Fore Street.
A "rotten", "decayed" or pocket borough was a parliamentary borough or constituency in the United Kingdom that had a very small electorate and could be used by a patron to gain undue and unrepresentative influence within Parliament. The patron would often have little or no interest in the borough other than what influence it could bring.
In the debates before the passing of the Reform Act, Bere Alston was held up as one of the most notorious examples of a rotten borough, vilified in more than one of the pro-Reform newspapers. The Times carried the following report of what happened in Bere Alston in the general election there in 1830:
"Dr Butler [the Portreeve, who was Returning Officer for the borough] ... met the voters under a great tree, the place usually chosen for the purpose of election. During the time the Portreeve was reading the acts of Parliament usually read on such occasions, one of the voters handed in to him a card containing the names of two candidates, proposed by himself and seconded by his friend. He was told ... this was too early. Before the reading was completed, the voter on the other side handed in a card corresponding with the former, which he was told was too late. The meeting broke up. The Portreeve and assistants adjourned to a public house in the neighbourhood, and then and there made a return of Lord Lovaine and Mr Blackett, which was not signed by a single person having a vote."
The election return actually bears seven signatures - individuals who were probably made temporary burgage holders to qualify as electors for the day of the election but none of whom probably resided in the borough. The two "voters" who sought to nominate candidates were probably unqualified but were actual residents. Otherwise the report is probably truthful.
The borough was disenfranchised by the Reform Act in 1832.