Can you believe that our historic pub has been opened a year this month? No, we can’t either. The past 12 months have whipped by at lightning speed.
It has been a pleasure to finally bring the pub back to life for Chiddingstone and a heart-felt thanks goes out to all our local friends and supporters who have encouraged us along the way.
Since its long-awaited re-opening, The Castle Inn has settled once more into the heart of the local community and the constant flow of guests reflects the ebb and flow of village life.
We have our wonderful regulars who are on first name terms with our bar staff and pop in for a pint of local brew – some of them even have a favourite glass kept behind the bar, ready and waiting for a refill of award-winning ales from the Larkins, Westerham and Harveys breweries.
Then there are our walkers and history buffs, regulars and new faces, who have spent a morning or afternoon exploring this National Trust Tudor village and beautiful countryside before resting their weary legs at one of our tables for a reviving lunch or dinner.
And with the Parish Church of St Mary opposite our front door, we have witnessed plenty of weddings. Many a groom and his best man have come in for a nerve-steadying pint before the ceremony.
In such a short time, we have hosted music nights and curry evenings, themed food banquets and, of course, the recent Good Friday tradition, the after party for the Chiddingstone Real Football marathon.
As custodians of a 15th century pub owned by the National Trust, we had to carefully renovate the building, preserving its heritage, while giving the interior a fresh look.
The result means our customers are able to soak up the historic ambience created by restored fireplaces, tiled floors and oak panelling, while at the same time enjoy watching our chefs at work thanks to our open plan kitchen. It is here that our talented chefs create dishes from scratch and change menus to reflect not only the seasons, but also the weather. For instance, the recent damp days of early spring called for homemade pies rather than salads, so our chefs obliged with their own comforting cottage pie recipe.
In a few months’ time, he will be using produce grown in the vegetable garden of our sister pub, The Wheatsheaf, and all year round uses local products such as Kent’s own Charcott cheddar, and even Westerham ale in our beer-battered fish and chips.
This spring, our garden has finally come into its own. We have been nurturing it over the past year, waiting patiently to see what plants will come up in the borders and in the autumn, we planted lots of bulbs. The result is a colourful haven of daffodils and hyacinths, against the backdrop of the Inn’s famous vine which is just starting to come into leaf. Our garden is now the perfect outdoor venue for enjoying our new spring menu – if the weather decides to behave itself.
As the weather warms up we look forward to playing a supporting role once again to wedding parties and being a welcome rest and watering hole for walkers.
Life in the village is good and we are proud to be part of it.