Cosy Kent pubs
- Credit: Archant
One of the joys of winter in Kent is the choice of traditional pubs where you are guaranteed to find not only a warm welcome but a blazing log fire and local ales. Here are five of our favourites to cosy up in
The George & Dragon
24 Fisher Street, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9EJ
“The heart of our pub is very olde-worlde, which you would expect from a place that can trace its beginnings back to 1446,” says current owner Matthew Philpott. Although it already possessed a pub licence, in 1615 Francis Scoones, who owned this property, registered the house under the name of George and Dragon.
“The George and Dragon has undergone many changes since it was built, but from the day it was first licensed over four centuries ago, the house has never closed once,” says Matthew.
Matthew and his brother Mark took over the pub in May 2008 after returning to the town in which they were brought up.
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Mark, the chef, started his career by studying catering at Thanet College for three years, after which he moved on to London and gained experience at several kitchens, including the Georgian Kitchen at Harrods, Leith’s and Adam Street.
Matthew, after working in London for a few years, moved to Surrey where he became the manager of the Brickmakers Pub in Windlesham for three years.
“Together, our aim has been to create a traditional pub that offers great food. We don’t have jukeboxes or TVs and rely instead on our customers to create our wonderful atmosphere.”
Like many ‘traditional’ pubs, the George & Dragon is also big on real ale.
“Very recently we were honoured with the award of becoming a Cask Marque-accredited pub,” explains Matthew.
Cask Marque ale, for those who are unaware, is an independent accreditation scheme that recognises excellence in the service of cask ale.
“This award enables us to display the Cask Marque Logo on our premises,” says Matthew. “It’s a testament to how seriously we take this part of the business. So why not come down and try what we have and enjoy a drink in our wonderful, traditional pub?”
The Bull at Benenden
The Street, Benenden, TN17 4DE
“The Bull at Benenden is located in the heart of the village. The pub is the perfect place to enjoy real ales, local cider, fine wines and good traditional food in a fantastic atmosphere with friendly service and company!” says owner Lucy Barron-Reid.
Dating back to 1608, the Bull is full of fascinating architectural features such Chinoiserie windows, inglenook fireplaces, carved beams and lots of nooks and crannies.
“We have furnished it with antique tables and chairs, cosy rugs and cushions, low lighting, candles and antique portraits (which I like to pretend are of relatives of ours!). The whole aim is to create the perfect atmosphere, transporting you back to the early 17th century,” says Lucy.
The Bull offers an array of real ales, several drawn from the local area, and boasts a menu that provides everything you would want from a traditional English pub (including a well-regarded Sunday carvery).
“We are also only a short drive from some of the most beautiful castles, stately homes and gardens in the Weald, such as Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle and Great Dixter. The Bull is the perfect place to stop off for a quick drink, some light lunch or maybe something more substantial” says Lucy.
Ye Olde Yew Tree Inn
32 Westbere Lane, Westbere, Canterbury CT2 0HH
Ye Olde Yew Tree Inn in Westbere has a long and colourful history. The inn was built in 1348 and is believed to be the oldest pub in Kent. Queen Anne and the Archbishop of Canterbury are reputed to have stayed here, and (as is the case with almost every old pub) Dick Turpin apparently evaded the long arm of the law by choosing it as a hiding place.
Inside, the Ye Olde Yew Tree boasts everything you would expect from Kent’s oldest pub.
“The interior is heavily beamed and the pub has a wonderful, large inglenook fireplace. When you walk in its like stepping back in time,” says owner Anna Svensson.
Although the pub possesses a regular local clientele, it also attracts plenty of return custom from outside the area, drawn by its appealing atmosphere. “There are no TVs here, jukeboxes or noisy games. Our customers create our atmosphere which time and again is described as very welcoming,” says Anna.
The inn offers a good range of real ales, again with a local flavour, plus a great seasonal menu, which provides high quality traditional pub food.
“We see ourselves as a refuge from the world, a place where people can come and recharge their batteries in a welcoming and friendly environment. It’s a great place to relax.”
The Halfway House
Horsmonden Rd, Brenchley, TN12 7AX
“We define ourselves as a family run pub that makes you feel like part of the family” says owner, Sam Allen.
Located in Brenchley, the Halfway House is a pub that takes real ales very seriously.
“We have between seven and ten different beers available every day, many drawn from the local area. So broad is our range and so committed are we to real ales, that we have been recognised by the CAMRA for our efforts,” says Sam.
Twice per year, the Halfway House hosts a bank holiday beer festival featuring between 50 and 75 different real ales!
“We try to concentrate on local beers but often include some of the national favourites such as Hop Back Summer Lightning and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord,” says Sam.
Inside the Halfway House has a very traditional feel and like many similar pubs does what it can to create a welcoming atmosphere.
“We have no jukebox, no fruit machine and no television. Our atmosphere is very friendly and is something that our customers value,” thinks Sam.
The Halfway House also offers a great selection of home-made food using locally sourced produce.
“Pop in on a winter weekend for a delicious Sunday roast in front of our log fire or come on a sunny summer afternoon and enjoy our beer battered cod and hand-cut chips in the spacious family garden. Whatever the occasion we are sure there is something for you.”
The Phoenix Tavern
Abbey Street, Faversham ME13 7BH
“Our aim at The Phoenix is simple, to provide a comfortable environment in which you can enjoy quality at sensible prices. It’s in the tradition of a true British pub; first class drinking and dining, good service and a warm welcome,” says owner David Selves.
The Phoenix Tavern provides a wide array of real ales including, Youngs, Harveys, Badgers, Gadds, Old Diary, Moorhouse, Ringwood, Greene King, Hopback, Wells, Sharps, Everards and Otter.
“We are also” says David “the founders and the home of the Timothy Taylor Appreciation Society (TTAS.) We hold regular meetings of the TTAS and an annual International Gathering.”
The pub also plays host to the Real Ale Advisory Board, which meets at 7pm on the second Monday of every month and is made up of an experienced collective of ale drinkers.
“Members take it in turn to bring bottled beers from brewers - as obscure as possible - which are sampled and marked out ten. We always welcome new members!” says David.
Internally, the Phoenix has a more ‘polished’ modern feel than the other pubs featured here. And yet, despite this, the place still feels rooted in the tradition of the ‘great British pub’, something assisted by the absence of the noisy trappings of modern pub-dom.
Along with the broad array of real ales, the pub also offers great food too. “Our chefs prepare food in our kitchen every day with care and skill using as many local ingredients as possible. Our whole team are dedicated to making your visit special. We look forward to seeing you soon.”