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Posted: 01 April 2014
Blog category: Pub of the Week
A couple are celebrating the completion of a major refurbishment project at the Hook & Hatchet at Hucking near Maidstone.
Licensees David Bacon and Charlotte Clarke have spent the past three months working to restore the traditional pub, set high on the North Downs next to the Woodland Trust’s beautiful 560 acre Hucking Estate.
The pub had been closed to the public for a year, and was in need of extensive refurbishment when the couple found it last September.
David said: “I spent 23 years working in a variety of roles for Sainsbury’s, and decided that I wanted to do something for myself, so I began looking at pubs. We were driving around looking at sites and Charlotte had visited the Hook & Hatchet many years ago with her Granddad, so she suggested we visit for a drink. When we parked up, we realised it was closed, so had a wander around, and I just fell in love with it. It is a beautiful pub, and the countryside is stunning. That was in September last year, and by December we had the keys, after we successfully applied for the tenancy with Shepherd Neame.”
The dedicated pair moved from their home on the Isle of Sheppey to live in a caravan in the pub’s car park while carrying out the
The project included some structural work, along with completely repainting the pub inside and out, installing a new kitchen, and sourcing new furniture.
Father-of-two David said: “Neither Charlotte or I have run a pub before, or even worked in one, so we knew it was going to be a huge challenge, but I have experience in project management and the brewery has provided fantastic support. We have aimed for a shabby chic look, in keeping with its traditional country pub feel, and we are really pleased with the result.”
They welcomed their first customers on Saturday, March 22, and have received a warm response from locals.
David said: “Everyone is really happy that the pub is open again and we have received lots of compliments about its new look. I love cooking, so I will be looking after the food, which will be traditional pub favourites, and Charlotte is responsible for front-of-house. Charlotte previously worked in sales for a local radio station, so she is used to dealing with customers and is a really outgoing, bubbly person."
The couple are planning a packed programme of events to attract customers in the coming months, including a music festival in the summer, monthly quiz night and regular spiritual events, as Charlotte is a psychic medium in her spare time.
The mum-of-five said: “It began when I was a child, and I turned professional about 30 years ago. I hope to hold regular events at the pub, starting with a Psychic Supper.”
Property and tenanted trade director George Barnes said: “It is great to see the Hook & Hatchet open again. It is a fantastic country pub in a spectacular location, and I am confident that it will prove extremely popular.”
Thursday, April 3: Quiz Night from 7.30pm. Free admission.
Wednesday, April 9: Psychic Supper from 7.30pm. Admission £10, to include a basket supper.