SQUIRRELS were a surprise hit when it went on the menu at a now-closed Herefordshire pub.

Licensees of the Newtown Inn in Lower Eggleton, Ilene and Paul Cowdrey, had an unexpected hit on their hands when they decided to cook the furry nut eaters to help raise money for the local Over 60s club and Hereford Playbus.

"We have cooked them before," Paul Cowdery told the Hereford Times in 1981.

"They are lovely, they taste just like chicken."

But what might put off many diners went off like a bomb in Lower Eggleton.

"We have had so many people say they want to come along we will hae to build an extension," Paul said.

The squirrels were caught in the locality by members of the local young farmers' club and were skinned and frozen ahead of the special buffet, at which Mr Cowdery said he expected to use around two dozen of the critters.

To prepare the casserole, Mr Cowdery said he would be jointing the squirrels and frying them in seasoned flower before cooking them with turnips, swede, carrots and onions in a red wine sauce.

Mr Cowdery and wife Eileen, would buy the pub from brewery Whitbread in 1991, 22 years after becoming licensees.