It has suffered over the years from piecemeal development – mainly private residential estates, and it is on one of these developments, that the Jubilee Hall, which is where Matthew will need to attend for his vaccination, is situated. Fortunately, the hall is well signposted, but it was worth us doing a dummy run, rather than driving around frantically, trying to locate it, next Friday week.
back in 2013.
The Rose & Crown was situated at the opposite edge of the village, and caught fire in February 2010, a couple of months after it closed. In its heyday it was an attractive looking pub, that dated back to the 18th Century, but following the fire, and the flooding that occurred at Christmas 2013, the building was demolished and replaced by, what to me is, an ugly American-style condominium type development.The Addlestead Tavern, sited at a prominent junction on the road in from Tonbridge, is now a curry house, whilst the Merry Boys, which is in the centre of the village, opposite the parade of shops, was sold at auction in April 2020, with plans for conversion to some other use. I have vague recollections of setting foot in the pub once, but the Merry Boys was very much a local’s pub with little in the way of appeal, for visitors.
It’s worth mentioning the Village Coffee & Wine Bar, which occupies one of the above shops, as or attention was drawn to it on our drive through the village. This was on account of the people sitting outside. I took a photo (see above), as we drove by – we were travelling in Matthew’s car, and I have included my “drive past” shot for the sake of completion.
These closures leave East Peckham, with just two pubs: the Bush plus the Man of Kent. The latter is some way from the village, closer in fact to Golden Green. It occupies an attractive location at Little Mill, next to the River Bourne – a tributary of the Medway. It is a favourite watering hole for a particular group of Mrs PBT’s girly friends and is perhaps a pub worthy of its own write up.The Bush, Blackbird & Thrush is also some way from village centre and is surrounded on all sides by open fields. When I first moved to West Kent, the Bush was renowned for its Fremlin’s Bitter (and occasionally Tusker), served direct from the cask. I’m not certain exactly when Shep’s took over the pub, from Whitbread, but they have continued this tradition. It was in order to enjoy a pint of gravity served Shep’s that Matthew and I decided to call in, before driving back to Tonbridge.
The quaintly named, Bush, Blackbird & Thrush is an attractive long tile-hung building, constructed in typical Kentish style, set back from the road. There is a large garden to the rear and the left of the pub and, given the fine evening, that that is where we headed. We were told by the rather young-looking member of staff that we could sit at any free table, and he would come and take our order. So, after parking ourselves at a convenient spot, we waited for him to come and take our order. “What cask ales have you got on?” I asked. The term “cask ale” nearly always seems to confuse the “yoof” of today, so I qualified it with the reassuring words “real ale.”
It was then that I learnt that none were available. There was some story about the pub placing their usual order, and then discovering that none had turned up. It sounds unlikely, but then we are not living in normal times. Also, Shep’s might be concentrating on packaged beers, such as bottled, canned or keg at the moment, but whilst disappointing, there were, several bottled options available.I opted for a bottle of Whitstable Bay Pale Ale, which fortunately arrived with a glass. I suppose the 500ml size doesn’t quite lend itself to being necked, straight from the bottle! It was nicely chilled and hit the spot. I wasn’t overly concerned that no cask was available; although some of the feedback I received on the Beer Socials WhatsApp group, I am a member of, made me think I was supping with the Devil.
As we sat their enjoying our beers, I took time to take in the scene in the spacious garden in front of us. There was a variety of people doing the same as us, and at the far end, a trailer, complete with cooking facilities and serving hatch, was dishing up food of the “chips with everything” variety. I imagine this was brought in back in April, at the start of pubs re-opening, when it was outdoor service only.
The area to the side of us, seemed popular with local youngsters, most of whom were sat under a gazebo-like cover. They all seemed to know each other, so the banter, and the insults all seemed good natured. I didn’t feel too happy taking photos though, especially as Matthew freaks out when I start snapping away. This means that the majority of the garden shots were taken surreptitiously, with by phone resting at 90° on the table and with the shutter noise silenced.
So, a quick beer plus the renewal of my acquaintance with an old favourite pub, provided a good end to what had been a busy and challenging week at work. Roll-on September!