Published: 06:00, 18 September 2020
| Updated: 06:15, 18 September 2020
The village of Lyminge has a fantastic Saxon church but can trace its history much further back and a number of interesting items have been discovered in this part of the Elham Valley linking the place to the Romans.
The Coach and Horses pub, which has only been around a couple of hundred years, is a relative newcomer to the place but can still boast a fascinating past.
And, the latest chapter in its illustrious history is also worthy of note, despite Mrs SD’s constant sniggering about the village name.
New owners Fred and Emily drew up their business plan one week before lockdown and were then informed they’d got the place and needed to move in on June 16 as the previous owners had found a new house.
After a flurry of activity the Folkestone born-and-bred pair were ready to welcome their first customers on July 4.
As soon you walk in you can see they’ve made a good start to freshening up and decorating the place and, at the same time, made sure everything is Covid compliant.
But, Rome wasn’t built in a day and there are tell-tale signs the pub hasn’t had a makeover for several decades.
My Sharona (can’t believe I remembered it was sung by The Knack!) was followed on the playlist by Spirit in the Sky, so the music was about the same age as the carpet.
However, both the songs and furnishings are still a good deal younger than the average customer and walking through the door I caught a whiff that reminded me distinctly of my nan’s living room.
But, despite folk being as old as the lovely surrounding hills, I don’t want to be unfair as there are clearly plans for the place and, as well as erecting a great marquee out the back, the right-hand side of the pub has already been decorated.
Beers on tap were Sharp’s Doom Bar and Harvey’s Sussex Best – I had a pint of each and reckon on this occasion the flavour of the latter just shaded it.
Mrs SD went house sauvignon blanc followed by a glass of the New Zealand variety and, whilst she liked the first, again favoured the taste of the latter.
We ordered a couple of ‘bar bites’ – a whitebait and spicy chicken which again took us back to our youth as they arrived in plastic baskets.
They were tasty and pretty filling for £4 snacks so we followed up with baguettes rather than mains.
I went manly - beef, horseradish and stilton, Mrs SD was more refined with brie, basil and tomato.
Both cost £6.50, both were absolutely superb and both came with a stack of chips and fresh salad.
If we’d known the portions were so large we’d have given the bar bites a miss.
New owner Emily said they’re not selling many desserts – I’m not surprised, take my advice, reduce the portions a little (you’ll still be giving good value) and flog a few puds.
I really liked the sound of a jammie dodger blondie with vanilla ice cream but I was full to bursting already.
There’s a good deal to like about this pub, but it’s also clear there’s a fair bit to be done if it is to become the hub of the village and a sustainable business.
The dartboard and roof lights in the room to the left show this was the games area pre-Covid and it might yet be returned to its former use, although the floor space might make more financial sense as another dining area.
There was a Bookers delivery while we were in and, although Charlie was in charge and also did most of the carrying, there were at least three other members of kitchen staff to help out.
Pubs like the Coach and Horses take a big effort to turn around and both Fred and Emily, who realise it won’t be easy, have held onto their current jobs for the time being ‘just in case’.
I applaud their determination to rise to the challenge and hope it’s not too long before they feel confident about the pub’s future.
The Coach and Horses–Church Road, Lyminge, Folkestone CT18 8JA
Decor: A work in progress – clearly not touched for years, the Coach and Horses is finally receiving a proper makeover. ***
Drink: Getting the basics right, both the beers on tap were well kept and well served. Mrs SD was equally complimentary about both the house and NZ sauvignons. ***
Food: Basic but fresh, tasty, and great value – the baguettes were excellent, but the portions could easily be reduced. ****
Price: The Doom Bar is £4.20, the Harvey’s 10p less. A large house wine is £6.40, add 55p for the Villa Maria NZ version. Baguettes are £6.50 and the bar bites £4 each. ***
Atmosphere: For a lunchtime it was reasonably busy, although there aren’t too many occasions these days when I bring the average age down. ***
Staff: Fred and Emily are both very welcoming and have made a strong start to their new project – I wish them every success in their new venture. ****