insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 68 Nov 2017 - Page 90

FOOD+DRINK WINTER Warmer PUBS cont. Five Bells Inn 90 The Wheatsheaf BOUGH BEECH Five Bells Inn EAST BRABOURNE The Smugglers Inn ST MARGARETS AT CLIFFE The Wheatsheaf in Bough Beech near Edenbridge is a Grade II listed building and an impressive one at that. The owners have tried to stay as true to its original heritage as possible, which means that the pub remains as hospitable and charming as it ever was – with a dash of real Kentish atmosphere and cosy surroundings thrown in. The Wheatsheaf offers comfort, great dining and a good choice of drinks. Look out for the ‘graffiti’ stating ‘1607 Foxy Holanby’ (possibly a local squire) and take the time to check out the roof timbers, wherein there is a rare medieval crown post. Once part of the Hever Castle estate – a hunting lodge, it would seem – there is history in abundance here, and that history even includes a rather famous visitor...none other than King Henry VIII himself. Once upon a time, it was only the most hardy (or most local) people who would venture into the Five Bells Inn – not because it wasn’t welcoming (it always has been exactly that), but because it is located in a pretty remote location. Today, however, thanks to sat navs and cars that can contend successfully with country lanes, the Five Bells doesn’t have to worry about being forgotten about and is found regularly and enjoyed immensely by travellers from near and far. The inn dates from the 16th century when it was the ideal resting place for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, or travellers venturing towards France. It rests neatly on the famous Pilgrims Way, and makes the most of its unique and enviable position by being utterly charming and unforgettable. Passers-by aren’t often able to resist its open fire and beamed ceilings, especially on a chilly winter’s day. St Margarets at Cliffe is the closest village in Kent to France, so of course, bygone smugglers loved to be there. It’s no wonder that the village pub was known to be a smugglers’ haunt, and no wonder that it was always so popular. Today, The Smugglers Inn is just as interesting a place to visit as it was back in days of yore. For real ale lovers, the ale changes on a rotating basis allowing you to try a variety of different beers just by stepping over the threshold. Although the interior of the pub is welcoming and cosy, you can still sit outside during the winter thanks to the patio heaters and covered garden area.