Home   What's On   News   Article

Secret Drinker reviews Ye Olde Chequers Inn, Tonbridge

By Secret Drinker

Perfectly placed, just up from the river, I discovered this incredible 14th century pub, complete with beams and a hangman’s noose, backing straight onto Tonbridge Castle.

The bar was quiet, just half a dozen locals surrounding it on high stools, but I received a warm welcome from both them and the cheery barmaid in Ye Olde Chequers Inn.

There wasn’t a huge selection of beers - just three on tap - so I took the safe option with a Harvey’s Sussex Best – at 4% it cost me a pound for each point. Well served and as tasty as always. Mrs SD’s large sauvignon blanc (she only knows one size!) was just 20p more.

The building dates back over 500 years to the late 15th century
The building dates back over 500 years to the late 15th century

It’s a long bar with some impressively leaded windows looking out onto the High Street – I turned right and we sat back to observe the regulars in full flow.

At this point the landlord shouted ‘Play up Pompey’ before putting a fag in his mouth and switching on all four TV screens to show Portsmouth v Sunderland in the League1 play-offs. Locals and landlord then began a long conversation about TV shows, particularly Game of Thrones, and didn’t look at the screens again. Probably as well given the success of the Black Cats.

At any given time there were as many folk, including the landlord, landlady and barmaid, in the smoker’s corridor as there were in the pub. Smoking is taken seriously and those enjoying a fag get a great view of the castle. The barmaid went out three times while I was in. There’s a decent garden area with plenty of seating and colourful hanging baskets.

Tonbridge High Street and the Chequers at around the the turn of the 20th century
Tonbridge High Street and the Chequers at around the the turn of the 20th century

The whole place, inside and out, looks as if it has had a makeover recently and is pretty well furnished – though personally I’d lose the old gas fire and avoid the fairly lights on sticks in the ceiling.

There are two fruit machines, a jukebox and a regular karaoke slot for willing participants.

The gents, with trendy bevelled tiles roof to floor was fresh and sweet smelling, complete with a pot plant and air freshener. Actually they smelt better than the slightly smoky bar.

But, the joy of this place isn’t in the furnishings, the quality of the beer (which was fine) or even the aroma, it’s in the banter around the bar.

.

Landlord John takes pleasure in insulting all his locals equally at great length - the level of effing and jeffing achieved in his favourite pastime is astonishing.

According to his regulars the affable landlord saves his hospitable side for visitors who haven’t got to know him yet – I assume he warmed to me as he disappeared upstairs to shower, shave and don a salmon pink pullover in super quick time before returning to chat.

We exchanged pleasantries and I headed back onto the High Street.

Follow Secret Drinker on Twitter by clicking here

The Olde Chequers Inn is a short walk up the High Street from the town's train station
The Olde Chequers Inn is a short walk up the High Street from the town's train station

Kent pub rated the best in the UK

Click here for more food and drink news

You can also follow Secret Drinker on twitter at @drinker_secret
You can also follow Secret Drinker on twitter at @drinker_secret

Join the debate...
Comments |

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More