CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> Two Marsh Pubs Near Ashford
The Woolpack, 26 High Street, Tenterden, Kent
Six Bells, Front Road, Woodchurch, Kent
Before I talk about pubs I would like to mention a bottled beer we had the opportunity to try recently. Thanks to our friend Stuart, who makes regular trips to Devon, we sampled Maltster's Ale (5% ABV, Teignworthy Brewery, Newton Abbot, Devon). This is a potent beer with a lovely bouquet. "Mmmm", says JC Goulden, "I detect barley with a hint of pomegranate and Brazil nut." Or is that loquat and hazelnut which are tickling my palate? I can't quite place it...at least there are no seeds or shells in the bottom of the bottle...
...which, for some strange reason, leads me to Tenderden, on the Weald of Kent southwest of Ashford. Although most of the buildings in this picturesque town date from the 18th century, the 15th-century tower of the 12th-century St. Mildred's Church dominate the scene, rising 100 feet into the air. The town is in what was a forest until Saxon times -- in fact the name is from the Old English Tenet Waraden, which means a den or clearing in the forest of the people of Thanet. Tenterden was a centre for the wool trade in the 13th century and became a limb of the Cinque Port of Rye in 1449. It features the northernmost terminus of the Kent & East Sussex Railway and is the birthplace of pioneering printer William Caxton.
But all this history stirs up a frightful thirst, and fortunately Tenderden offers a few solutions. The first time I visited the Woolpack was three years ago, when 4 of us had Sunday lunch at a table for 3.5 persons. (Since the other three were elderly I was assigned to the half seat. Fortunately I'm quite thin, but the pretzel into which I had to twist my long legs was a bit painful.) This time there were 3.5 of us (including a little girl) who sat at a table for 4. It was a teasingly snowy Friday lunchtime, and we had pints of King & Barnes Sussex (3.5% ABV, King & Barnes, Horsham, West Sussex). This is a very Batemanlike bitter, with a wide acidic character rising above the smoothness. It soothes a nasty cold nicely, and it's a perfect preparatory pint for an afternoon spent checking out the Kent & East Sussex Railway, playing on the swings and seesaw at the park, and skipping down the pavement with an eight-year-old. (I did have only one pint -- honest!)
On another day a different group of us visited the Six Bells in the nearby village of Woodchurch, famous for its windmill and for its proximity to the Rare Breeds Centre. Recently taken over by the previous landlord of the British Lion in Folkestone, the Six Bells is a pleasant pub with an inviting exterior, a friendly interior, and a nice selection of real ales. All of us -- except for my Stella-drinking American friend -- had pints of London Pride (4.1% ABV, Fuller, Smith, and Turner, London) which were quite good. Our sandwiches were ample and quite good as well, and our pool game was -- um, well, I won't bore you with the details or even tell you who won, because you really don't care. Trust me on this one.
I'd like to visit the Six Bells again very soon. It's a friendly place in scenic surroundings, and I really need to taste those other real ales...
(Last updated 18th October 2001)