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The Windmill Pub in Sevenoaks Weald receives national recognition

A pub in Sevenoaks has risen from being a run down and failing to achieving national recognition as one of the four best pubs in the country in just two years.

Awarded “Most Improved Pub of the Year” by the West Kent branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, in 2013, it went on to be named their Pub of the Year this year.

That qualified it for the next round of the competition in which it was named Kent Region Pub of the Year a few weeks ago.

The Windmill
The Windmill

But now it’s receiving national recognition, having made it through to the final four in the CAMRA national awards and winning CAMRA’s Super-Regional prize.

In 2012 licensees Matthew and Emma took over what was a run down pub, and turned it into a destination venue that the village could be proud of.

No strangers to the pub trade, the couple had previously run the Stile Bridge, a well-known free house, close to Marden.

Don Croker of west Kent CAMRA and Mathew of the Windmill
Don Croker of west Kent CAMRA and Mathew of the Windmill

The Windmill caught their eye as they had been looking for somewhere a bit closer to their children’s schools, so when Greene King put the pub on the market, it seemed the ideal opportunity.

The interior was completely stripped out, and then re-fitted and decorated in a style sympathetic to the Victorian building.

The Windmill has six hand pumps dispensing a range of real ales from independent brewers, sourced mainly, but not exclusively, from Kent or Sussex.

Local ciders and perries are also available, alongside a range of bottled Belgian beers and specialist Belgian lager.

Even to win the local stage the pub had to face stiff opposition from around 240 pubs and bars and faced judging from amongst the branch’s 550 members.

A pub needs to excel in terms of beer and cider quality but also in several other criteria including atmosphere, style, décor, value for money, service and welcome.

But to reach the final stage where the last four pubs in the country face a stand-off, it will have been scrutinised several times over, including by judges from CAMRA’s St. Albans HQ, and it has been chosen from several thousands of pubs.

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