Yesterday, after visiting my wife who thankfully is now recovering well in Maidstone hospital, I stopped off for a pint on the way home. The other week I called in at the Swan-on-the-Green; an excellent rural brew-pub in the tiny village of West Peckham. I wrote about my visit here.
This time I stopped at a pub closer to home; one which I hadn't visited in ages, until I called in, a few weeks before Christmas, to collect my wife and a couple of her friends following a night out and a meal there. The pub in question was the Rose Revived at Ashes Lane, a short distance from Hadlow, and just a few miles from the edge of Tonbridge.
On that occasion I didn't stop for a drink, as I was acting purely as a chauffeur, so having driven past the pub numerous times during the past 16 days, I thought it high time I popped in for a pint and gave the Rose proper look over.
Weather-wise I couldn't have picked a more foul day, so the photos of the pub exterior I took are both hurried and framed at such an angle to not include the cars parked in front of the building. The Rose was therefore not looking its best, which was a shame really as it is an attractive, white-painted old building which dates back to the 16th Century.
In recent years the pub has been considerably enlarged at the rear, and now incorporates a large reception-cum- dining room along with a conservatory. This is in keeping with its new title of "The Rose Revived Country Pub & Venue".
I say "new title", because in February of last year, the pub's name reverted to the Rose Revived, following a period as the Hadlow Bar & Grill. Prior to that it had even been an Indian restaurant for a short while. Local people had always known it as the Rose Revived, but what many of them don’t know is that at one time the pub was called the Rose & Crown.
The "Revived" part came about back in the 1970's when a previous owner acquired the freehold of what had been a rather run-down Charington's pub and, after spending a lot of time and effort, had restored the building to something approaching its former glory. The name change may also have come about because there is another pub, right in the centre of Hadlow, called the Rose & Crown.
The fact that the London brewers Charrington's owned the pub relates to their acquisition of the tied estate of the former Kenward & Court Brewery, who were based just down the road in the centre of Hadlow. The brewery itself may have gone, but the impressive maltings buildings still stand, following their conversion to residential apartments.
I first became aware of the Rose Revived when my job took me to Tonbridge. I didn't live in the town back then, as I commuted daily from my home in Maidstone, but it wasn't that long before I started to explore the countryside around Tonbridge; particularly the stretch between the town and Maidstone.
In late 1984 I moved to Tonbridge after meeting the present Mrs Bailey, and it was on a subsequent visit to the Rose Revived that I first became aware of the eccentricities of the pub's then owner. I never knew the licensee's name but I soon learned of his reputation as a curmudgeonly individual. The rumour was he ran the pub like a private club, primarily for the benefit of himself and his friends (cronies). I don't know quite how true this was, but I do recall a work colleague falling foul of this individual, although I can't remember what his alleged misdemeanour was.
I do however, remember attending a CAMRA social at the Rose Revived one evening. This would have been some time in the late 1980's, and it happened to be general election night (presumably the election which saw Margaret Thatcher win her third term in office).
A group of us were sitting around a table enjoying the excellent Harvey's. The landlord may have been a grumpy old bugger, but he knew how to keep beer, and the Harvey's in particular was always top notch. As I recall, what happened next was a couple of other CAMRA members turned up late, so not wishing to exclude them from the conversation, and the company in general, we moved a couple of stools over to the table we were sitting at.
This was the signal for mine host to come marching over and order us, in his best Basil Fawlty manner, to move the chairs back to where we found them, or leave. We reluctantly did as instructed, but when it came to getting a final pint in, our curmudgeonly friend then refuse point blank to serve us.
Time had not been called and there was still a good 10 minutes before "last orders". When questioned why we were being denied another pint, we were told the pub was closing early. (There may have been some reference here to election night, but I can't be 100% certain). As we left, we noticed most of the regulars still had plenty of beer left in their glasses, and the feeling was that once we had gone, Mr Fawlty and his chums would shut the door and carry on with their own private drinking session.
That's probably more than enough about the past, although I do find it quite amusing to look back at that particular chapter in the pub's history. Instead I want to concentrate on the present, where one couldn't wish for a more pleasant and convivial atmosphere. I felt this back in December when I had just popped in to collect Eileen and her friends, and yesterday I felt exactly the same.
As mentioned earlier, the weather outside was atrocious, so I was glad to notice a welcoming log fire blazing away in the grate of the inglenook fireplace. There was just one person sitting at the bar, but there were quite a few customers scattered around the various rooms which make up the pub.
As if on cue, Harvey's Best was available (the pub memory wouldn't have been the same without it!), alongside Blonde Ambition from Tonbridge Brewery. I of course opted for the former, and scored it at 3.5 NBSS; my only complaint being it was served a little too cold for my liking. The beer was competitively priced as well for an upmarket pub, at £3.85 a pint.
I found myself a seat at a small table close to the window, where I had a reasonable view of what was going on. There were people like me who were just there for a drink, but it's safe to say the majority of the customers were diners. I didn't look at the menu whilst there, but a look later confirmed that the prices were quite reasonable, considering both the venue and the area. There is talk of holding a CAMRA social at the Rose Revived, later in the year, and I will certainly be passing on my positive feedback to the branch. I don't think there will be any trouble regarding moving the furniture or private, late night drinking parties this time around!
I had a brief chat with one of the owners as I was leaving. He said he was pleasantly surprised by the number of people they had in, especially in view of the weather, but when it's chucking it down with rain outside and the temperatures are not far above freezing, I can think of few better places to be than in a cosy, old country pub, in front of a blazing log fire, with a decent pint of beer in my hand.