Published: 09:09, 23 January 2020
| Updated: 09:42, 23 January 2020
A village pub has reopened following a major refurbishment which included transforming a disused barn into guest rooms.
The 16th century tavern, owned by Shepherd Neame, has a new patio area, swinging sign and four new double en suite guest rooms in the disused barn next to the pub.
Licensee Matt Hollis, who took over the pub in August, said: "This is my first time running a pub, but I grew up in Charing Heath and have lived here on and off all my life, so I know the Red Lion well. When the tenancy became available, I went for it. The Red Lion is the only pub in the village, and I know exactly what people need from their local – a warm welcome, fantastic food and well-kept beer. We have already had a lot of interest in the guest rooms, so I think they are going to be really successful."
Father-of-four Matt is being helped by manager Nicola Smith and head chef Dominic Knight, who has introduced a new food menu. His menu changes monthly, using as many locally sourced, seasonal ingredients as possible, including from Lenham Bakery.
Residents were invited to the official opening last week, with former licensee Richard Wood invited to pull the first pint. He ran the hostelry with his wife Eileen from 1985 to 1997.
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame came along, and to mark the occasion presented a £1,000 cheque to the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance charity.
He said: "The Red Lion is a characterful pub with a fascinating history, in a beautiful country village setting. Our aim with this investment was to maximise its potential and ensure that it remains at the heart of its local community for many years to come."