Published: 00:01, 22 February 2019
Time has been called at an historic pub which has been put on the market with an asking price of £545,000.
At the heart of Ivychurch on the Romney Marsh, The Bell Inn - which has been run by Mark and Vanda Rolfe for 12 years - is being marketed by Christie and Co.
A cornerstone of village life, the freehold pub, that attracts drinkers from New Romney, Ashford and beyond, is being offered as a going concern.
Charly Buss, a spokesman for the pub said: “Mark reached 65 last year so he and Vanda are going to retire.
“They have worked really hard and only intended to run the pub for 10 years so have stayed open for an extra two years.
“From the moment they get up in the morning to when they go to bed at night it’s all about The Bell.”
Charly, the couple’s daughter-in-law, who works as a barmaid, said: “The Bell is the centre of the village and everyone who comes in the pub is so friendly and a lot of people know each other."
The Rolfes are hoping to spend more time with family when they retire.
Describing it as a watering hole for real ale aficionados, Charly said: “Lots of pubs are restaurants that serve beer, but The Bell prides itself on being a drinkers’ pub.
"The inn is a multiple winner of the CAMRA Pub of the Year award in the Ashford, Folkestone and Romney Marsh district, receiving the accolade four times between 2010 and 2016."
Once the haunt of smugglers, a tunnel was said to have been in existence between the inn and St George’s church behind it.
The Bell Inn’s restaurant has 65 covers and there is a saloon bar, lounge area, snug and garden, with owners’ accommodation on the first floor on offer to potential buyers.
Music evenings at The Bell Inn have proved popular and its annual three-day beer and cider festival in July has drawn drinkers into the village.
In a joint statement, Mark and Vanda said: “Sadly the time has come for us to call time at The Bell.
"We have enjoyed 12 fantastic years here making many new friends and forging links with the local community.
"However, we look forward to handing the business over to someone with the same passion and enthusiasm as we have had.
"A hard decision but retirement calls.”
James Hughes, senior business agent at Christie & Co, is handling the sale and said: “The Bell Inn provides a fabulous opportunity to acquire a village pub that has been under the same ownership for the past 12 years.
"It is ideally suited for either a hands-on owner operator looking to capitalise on the already strong trade or alternatively, a multiple operator looking to add a pub to their portfolio."