As no explanation for this mystery was forthcoming and a traditional hand-drawn ale in a shady garden beckoned, my partner and I overcame our curiosity and settled in to more pressing matters - what to choose from the excellent menu, and which of the three dining rooms to eat in.
The Admiral Hornblower's reputation for food has already travelled far, so I was expecting something special, and I wasn't disappointed. Free-range meat, and fresh, local fruit and veg are the order of the day, and with the hotel's own kitchen garden just outside the back door, fresh means fresh. A superb cellar offers plenty of grape-based refreshment to wash all this down, for those less inclined towards the hop.
The privately-owned hotel itself is a picture of traditional perfection. Recently and very sympathetically restored, The Admiral Hornblower is a great base for exploring Rutland's beautiful treasures. If you get the chance, book a room here - they all have extremely generous-sized beds, some are four-poster. They are tastefully furnished, and with plenty of charm and character they really set the tone for your forays out and about in the local area. There is also a range of function rooms available.
So then, why The Admiral Hornblower so far from the sea? Maybe our fictional hero, being a seasoned traveller, knew a good thing when he saw it -