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The wealthy pocket of Kent that has become our capital of the gastropub

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Original article from Kent Live

Wingham has existed as a village for thousands of years, dating back to Roman times and even the Stone Age, according to some experts.

Clearly, it is a place with an ability to adapt to the changing world.

And it is a particularly modern phenomenon that makes it stand out these days.

Wingham and the collection of villages around it near Canterbury enjoy an usually rich abundance of "gastropubs".

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The term was coined in the 1990s to describe a new breed of pub specialising in high-quality food.

Wingham itself is home to The Dog at Wingham, an ancient pub rated best in Kent and one of top 50 gastropubs in the country.

The Dog at Wingham

Down the road at Ickham is the Duke William.

Another nearby is the Rose Inn at Wickhambreux, plus the Evenhill at Littlebourne.

All of them are incredibly well reviewed.

Then a bit further down the road in Fordwich is the Michelin-starred Fordwich Arms, another rated as one of the UK's top 50 gastropubs.

Its owners are soon to open the Bridge Arms in Bridge, adding yet another gastropub to rural Canterbury's almost ridiculously numerous list.

But rather than a saturated market, the number of high-quality pubs seems to be adding to the area's cultural value.

They have brought in more visitors and more wealthy residents from London, creating in turn more demand for more establishments.

At least that is the view of The Dog at Wingham's landlord Marc Bridgen.

General manager Marc Bridgen said he believes consistency is key to success in hospitality

He told KentLive: "We do have a fantastic collection in this area – it's brilliant.

"It's good healthy competition. We all know each other and get on.

"I think it's helped by where we are – between Canterbury and Sandwich is developing into a really wonderful area.

"I like to think we add to the value of the area too.

"In Wingham we have got a very high-end retirement that's being built, and we've heard they've already sold a lot of the flats.

"I understand the Dog was actually a specific part of their advertising – using it to attract wealthy older people who want to see a high-end pub in their area.

Inside The Dog at Wingham

"It is fairly affluent here, but we do like to think we get a breadth of guests too and we certainly welcome absolutely everyone with open arms."

Historic architecture in the area certainly lends itself to the gastropub scene.

The Dog itself dates back to the 1200s, as does another old pub building nearby The Eight Bell.

St Mary the Virgin, the present Grade I-listed church of Wingham, dates from the early 13th century with fabric dating from the Norman to Victorian eras.

In modern times the village has an abundance of hospitality and other amenities considering its relatively small population – around 2,000 residents.

Wingham is bustling with amenities

There are shops, a post office, a cafe, an Indian restaurant, and one other pub The Anchor.

Together they arguably represent a better offer – certainly in terms of hospitality – than the much larger settlement of Aylesham next door.

People shouldn't expect things to change any time soon either.

Dozens of high-end new builds, most valued at well over £1 million, seem to be popping up across the area.

Bekesbourne Lane in Bekesbourne is a particular hub in this regard.

Anyone who visits the large and luxurious Gibson's Farm Shop on Wingham's outskirts might also have noticed the large hoardings strapped to its fences advertising builders of customised homes.

It seems there is truth in the old phrase that money makes money.

For the rest of Kent, we should probably consider ourselves lucky to be so well-placed to take advantage of this abundance of quality establishments on our doorstep.

It's yet another reason the lifting of coronavirus restrictions cannot come sooner.

Original Article