Hidden Gem - Vicars Game, Ashampstead

William Vicars and Son were established in West Street, Reading in 1886 and traded in the same family for three generations as purveyors of fine English meat and game.

In 1973, the company changed hands and was bought by Alan Hayward, who subsequently opened a specialist game processing department (Vicars Game) in part of the old Reading Abattoirs. This then moved to Scours Lane and then in 2001 to Ashampstead.

In Ashampstead, the Company have grown their wholesale game and meat processing and opened the catering side of the business. In 2005 they started to cure their own bacon and expand the sausage manufacturing side, making over 2 tonnes daily. During this period, turnover increased tenfold and the quality and diversity of the products rapidly attracted the attention of an increasing number of prestige retailers and restaurants.

Most of the game is sourced locally to the Newbury from the many large estates and farms within the surrounding 30 miles. As well as the 100,000 Pheasants and Partridge the Company offers Rabbit, Hare, Roe deer, Fallow deer and Muntjac with over 6,000 deer processed each year. Further afield suppliers and local attraction Bucklebury Farm Park provide Red and Sika deer, given they are not common in this part of the country.

Only the best quality meat is handled and the manufacturing is only done with fresh, high quality meat, on a daily basis. Unusually in these days, the beef rumps and loins are hung for up to four weeks offering total control of every piece of meat that passes through the business.

Vicars Game can be found at off Dog Lane, Ashampstead, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 8SJ. Tel: 01635 579 662