AN OXFORD pub billed as a “heart-warming oasis” in the city centre has been named Britain’s town pub of the year.

The Turf Tavern is given the accolade in the new Good Pub Guide 2011. It is one of three Oxfordshire pubs to earn a place in the pubgoers’ bible.

The Royal Oak, at Ramsden, near Chipping Norton, was named the UK’s country pub of the year, while the Kingham Plough, in the village near Chipping Norton, was named Oxfordshire’s best dining pub.

Michael Berry, known to his regulars as ‘Chuck’, runs the Turf Tavern with wife Stella.

Mr Berry, who has been a publican since 1975, said he had never dreamed of being chosen for the award.

He said: “We had no idea we had been nominated or anything.

“We pride ourselves on being friendly, well-organised and knowledgeable about the beers.”

Hidden away in Bath Place, off Holywell Street, the unusual layout of the 17th century tavern includes winding passageways and courtyards, concealed by foliage and awnings.

The Turf, which was has been a pub since the 17th century, but is believed to have foundations dating back to the 13th century, has a rich history.

Many well-known faces have enjoyed a drink under the eaves, including former US President Bill Clinton and leading physicist Prof Stephen Hawking.

Good Pub Guide editor Fiona Stapley praised the Turf and said it fully merited the honour.

She said: “Some of our best big town pubs have won their place on the strength of a great beer offering, others through good value food. In cities it’s much rarer to find a pub that’s really good for the broader virtues of real character and a genuinely warm and personal welcome.

“The ancient Turf Tavern, hidden away beneath Oxford’s medieval walls, is a heart-warming oasis.”

Mr Berry added: “I think what people like about us is that we’re a little oasis in the middle of the city.

“Everyone knows about us, but no-one knows where we are, so I think people like to think they’ve discovered us.”

Miles Lampson and his wife Emily Watkins, who have run the Kingham Plough since 2007, said they were delighted to be named Best County Dining Pub.

Mr Lampson said: “The pub is our idea of the perfect pub, the kind of place Emily and I would like to go.

“What’s important to us is freshness, and that’s what we offer here.

“This is thanks to our dedicated hardworking team, both in the kitchen and behind the bar.”

Ms Watkins, who is the pub’s chef, used to work for TV chef Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck, in Bray, near Maidenhead.