Old photographs of the Black Horse in the tiny village of Thurnham, Kent, show a simple cottage on the corner of a narrow lane, the Pilgrims Way. The pub looks pretty much the same today, except for the single story extension. But this country pub has had to adapt and diversify for the 21st century and its exterior hides a whole host of facilities and diversifications.
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The main bar is what you'd expect from a nice old country pub, pleasantly rustic with a timber floor, hefty beams, dark wooden panelling and an attractive fireplace. A couple of cosy corners have been created for cosy couples. The beams are laden with hop binds throughout, this is Kent after all. Three local real ales on handpump, including Westerham Grasshopper, referred to as the ‘house ale.’
To the back of the bar is the popular restaurant which cascades down the natural slope of the land, again panelled and rustic. Here they serve many dishes made from local produce including Romney Marsh lamb. Good quality comes at a price but on weekdays the Chef’s special 2 course lunch is available for £12.25. Diners are advised to book to avoid disappointment.
Carrying on ‘downhill’ we come to the conservatory which in turn backs onto the attractive garden, which itself leads to another garden where a wedding was taking place on our visit. The Black Horse is licensed for civil marriages.
Through the side gate is a cluster of attractive buildings clad in black painted timber. These are the bedrooms; the Black Horse has 30 in a small development of annexes. A call into reception reveals another diversification in the form of a small shop. Here local produce can be bought, from cider to eggs.
The Black Horse Inn is a pub, restaurant, inn, shop and wedding venue and it exemplifies the diversity which many pubs can offer and sometimes have to offer to in order to flourish. The trick is to carry out all these varied roles well.