Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Castle Inn Chiddingstone Closed

In a surprise move the historic Castle Inn, situated in the equally historic village of Chiddingstone, closed its doors last Sunday. The first that many of us knew about the closure was an announcement on the pub’s Facebook page, inviting people along to the pub for its “last day”, and to join staff and regulars from 2pm for a buffet and open bar. The event was TICKET ONLY, costing £25 in advance, and attendees would be able to eat & drink until it has all gone!

The locals obviously knew about the closure, but I must say it rather threw the rest of us. For a start, the Castle had been selected for next year’s (2017) CAMRA Good Beer Guide, but fortunately the branch has managed to get the entry pulled. The pub closing threw me as well, especially as I’d only written about it a few weeks ago. I also wonder where Bob Dockerty, owner and founder of Larkin’s Brewery, who are based just down the road, will drink whilst the pub is shut.

Some friends who visited the Castle a few weeks ago have told me that the lease on the pub had run out, and that the current tenant was moving on elsewhere. This is a real shame, as although I didn’t go there that often and I didn't really know the landlord, he always made me feel welcome every time I popped in. As well as a friendly welcome, the beer too was always in tip-top condition; hence the pub’s selection for the GBG.

Like much of Chiddingstone village, the Castle is owned by the National Trust, and apparently some repairs are needed to this lovely old 15th Century inn. The departing licensee posted the following message on Facebook: “I would like to thank you all for your support of the Castle Inn over the past 6 years. Hopefully it will not be too long until the National Trust complete their repairs & the pub is open again. John.”

That’s as much as I know at the moment, but it does seem rather strange for the NT to be closing the pub just as the tourist season starts to get into full swing. Perhaps the repairs are quite extensive (structural even?), and they were left with little choice but to close it until the work is complete.

Watch this space, as they say, but in the meantime I would like to wish the departing tenant all the best in whatever venture he turns his hand to next.


David Harrison said...

That's bad news, Paul-we had lunch there back in January, and it seemed busier than ever,with a cracking drop of Larkins inimitable Porter.

Stonch said...

It's never good when departing pub licencees/lessees/owners bill their own departure as the pub "closing". It clearly hasn't "closed" in the sense most people, particularly in this climate of pubs under threat, would take the term to mean. The current operator just wanted to get rid of his own stock as there's noone to buy it at SAV.

David Harrison said...

Thinking back, I remember that we were in the pub a couple of years back when the barman emerged from the cellar, proudly bearing a bucket containing a newt. Not the best signifier of structural soundness, but par for the course in the Weald.

Paul Bailey said...

David, I can think of no finer place to enjoy Larkin’s wonderful Porter, than in the timeless surroundings of the lovely old 15th Century Castle Inn. What makes the experience even more enjoyable, is knowing the beer is brewed just a few hundred yards away, down the road, and that Bob Dockerty might pop in for a pint, just to make sure it’s up to scratch.

Although I’ve not been down there, I’ve heard the Castle’s cellar is quite extensive. A little on the damp side as well, judging by the wildlife found there! Perhaps this is one of the areas which need some work.

Jeff, I agree with what you say about describing the pub as “closing”. If some of the comments on social media were anything to go by, quite a few people thought it was shutting for good. Can’t blame the departing tenant for wanting to shift his unsold stock though.