There are new faces are behind the bar at the Chequers on the Green, in the village of High Halden.
The Shepherd Neame pub has been taken over by husband and wife team Andrew and Diane Ward (pictured), who have moved in with their 13-year-old daughter Alice, and ten-year-old son Harry.
It is familiar territory for the family, as they have extensive experience of the hospitality industry. Andrew grew up in the trade as his parents ran the Tiger Inn, Stowting, and he then trained as a chef. He and Diane ran Wards Hotel in Folkestone together for 14 years, before moving to Spain to launch a small steakhouse chain.
Diane said: “We have been in Spain for the last 18 years, and still own a restaurant outside Malaga, but we decided it was time to move back so our children could experience English life. Andrew is originally from Hythe and I’m from Upchurch, so we wanted to return to Kent, and we started looking for possible pubs. The Chequers on the Green appealed to us instantly as it is such a beautiful building with lots of land around it, in an amazing village location.”
Rustic, traditional feel
The pub is Grade II Listed, with some parts dating back to medieval times, and care has been taken to retain its original features including the oak beamed ceilings and walls. It has a rustic, traditional feel, with a log fire burning in the bar area through the colder months. Outside, there is a large terraced area to the front of the pub overlooking the village green, along with an extensive garden behind the pub and a large car park.
Diane said: “One of our goals is to utilise the pub’s amazing outside space to build the functions side of the business. We have a separate area off the bar which can seat up to 30 people and is very popular with private groups, but we are looking at the possibility of holding weddings and other large functions in the garden.”
The couple’s primary focus since taking on the pub, however, has been to raise awareness of their new food menu, served from noon to late, Monday to Sunday. Andrew has drawn upon his 40 years of experience as a chef to create a delicious menu ranging from traditional pub classics including dry-aged Scottish steaks, to great seafood and vegetarian dishes. He has also introduced a home-cooked carvery roast, available from noon to 4pm every Sunday.
Diane said: “We want the Chequers on the Green to be renowned as a great family pub which offers fantastic food and drink in a relaxed, traditional environment. We are very dog friendly as we have two rescue setters, Buck and Fizz, so dogs are welcome in the bar area. High Halden is a beautiful village, surrounded by lovely countryside which is explored by lots of walkers, so we want them to be able to stop off for a drink or something to eat. It is very important to us that the pub is seen as part of the community, and we will be working hard to ensure that everyone feels welcome here.”