A historic pub interior of regional importance
Listed Status: II3 Market Place
A must-visit if in Faversham: a traditional town centre public house with a great sense of antiquity. Yet much of what we experience dates only from 1906 when the frontage was rebuilt after a fire and there was much refitting under local architects, Edward Pover & Son for Shepherd Neame who are said to have taken over in 1736. The plan is simple: a panelled corridor on the left-hand side off which lead three partitioned drinking spaces: public bar (front), snug behind (but on the 1906 plan referenced as a bottle and jug), and then a private bar which has been amalgamated at some stage with what was a living room The coloured door glass is presumably from 1906. There is a lovely bar-back fitting down the right-hand side with some delicate detail in its cornice (one bay has been lost at the front while the quadrant-shaped counter is thought to have been set back somewhat to create more customer space). But for a real piece of old pub fitting, what about the cellar door with its wrought-iron fittings: we might well be connecting here with the eighteenth-century pub.
A pub with a very long history in an even older building which contains work from, probably, the early sixteenth century. The frontage was rebuilt after a fire in c.1906 and it has been little altered since. A wood-panelled corridor on the left leads to the rear of the building: parallel to it, on the right, is a servery, and, in between, a series of three rooms.
Plans on the wall of the snug by Faversham architects E. Pover & Son show that in 1906 the layout of a public bar at the front, tiny off sales, and two rooms at the rear described as ‘Club Room’ were changed. The partition creating the off-sales was removed – hence the sealed up second entrance door along the left hand passage. The first part of the former club room was converted into a new much larger ‘Bottle & Jug’, now called the snug, and the rear club room into a ‘Private Bar’; also the present bar back fitting and counter were installed.
At the front through twin doors with Victorian painted glass is the public bar with a quadrant-shaped counter, matchboard panelling to the walls, and a ceiling of diagonally-boarded panels. The public bar has seen some later changes likely to be in post-war times, possibly mid to late 1960s – an old photo on the wall shows the bar back fitting originally had two bays - confirmed by the plans on the wall of the snug – one bay was taken out, the counter cut short and moved back to increase the space for customers, and panelling facing the entrance placed in front of more panelling to cover up the changes! The front windows retain original (or accurate replacements for smashed original?) panels ‘Ales’ and ‘Spirits’ but the plans on the wall of the passage show the centre window was inscribed ‘The Bear’ (now replaced by one saying ‘Wines &’).
Between the front bar and the snug further on is a stair to the living quarters. The snug is formed by a three-quarter-height timber and glass screen held in position by an iron rod fixed to a beam. Note the three-feet-high door in the panelling used by cleaners, but now locked in place. Thankfully, only one section of lower bar back shelving has been lost to the ubiquitous fridge with other fridges sensibly placed under the counter.
The small private bar and the snug have a matchboard panelled bar counter and an interesting low bar-back with a frieze of roses and swags, and there is a wall painting above. A 1906 drawing of the bar fittings shows that in the lower part of right hand side public bar part of the back fitting drawers and a cupboard have been replaced by a fridge. Then in 2011 a replica cupboard was placed in the bar back fitting matching the original one in the centre. The 1960s false ceiling with fake beams in the private bar was removed in the 2011 refurbishment.
Beyond is a larger room which has taken in what was the living room since the early twentieth century and the position of fixed seating between the private bar and the rear room makes it still have the feel of two separate rooms. When in possibly the mid to late 1960s the rear room became a public room it had plaster and wood effect on the walls and in 2011 this was removed to expose old panelling. The sensitive refurbishment in 2011 also saw the door at the end of the servery (which was redundant when the former living room became another pub room) removed and repositioned to the rear door in the passage so now all the entrance doors to the public rooms have the same Victorian colourful painted and leaded glass panels in them.