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Overview

Set beside St Mildred's church on Tenterden's vibrant High Street, The Woolpack is a traditional English inn, dating back to the 15th-century and oozing higgledy-piggledy charm.

Affectionately known to locals as The Woolly, the inn has been sympathetically refurbished by Balfour Hospitality, who also own Balfour Winery in Kent, since they acquired the Grade II listed building in 2019. It's the hub of the community with a bustling front bar, a popular dining destination and a comfortable place to stay - Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Smallhythe Place and Rye are just a short drive away.

In the rustic beamed bar, flagstone and plank floors are scattered with weathered leather armchairs and old wooden tables topped with candles streaked with wax. Nooks, crannies, heritage hues and a blazing log fire make it very cosy - it's a cracking spot to peruse the papers with a perfect pint of Old Dairy Red Top, brewed 300 yards down the road beside Tenterden Station (Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway).

Tardis-like, a series of beamed dining rooms ramble away from bar, all overlook the churchyard, and beyond you'll find The Barn, a private dining and event space, and the Secret Garden, a peaceful summer haven away from the hub-bub of the High Street.

Rooms from:

7 doubles: £90; Loft suite £130

Good to know

Major credit cards accepted (not Amex)

Barn for parties/events

Secret garden away from High Street

No parking: pay car parks nearby

Dog stay: £10

Balfour Winery Tours

Set on a 400-acre family-owned estate in Kent, the modern winery offers informative tours and tastings, and is famous for producing Balfour Brut Rosé, one of the most iconic and exclusive English sparkling wines, using traditional Champagne methods and grape varieties.

Silcock's Farm Shop & Cafe

In a converted barn just outside Tenterden, this exceptional farm shop sells a range of top quality organic meat and dairy produce from land farmed by the Fenton family. Rare breed beef, pork and lamb are on offer alongside organic vegetables, and you can refuel at Silcocks Cafe.

Rooms

Stairs creak up to the six newly refurbished Deluxe and Superior double rooms - all are different in style and ooze 16th-century charm with low ceilings and wonky walls and floors.

Rooms at the front face the High Street so expect some noise; those at the back look over 12th-century St Mildred's churchyard; and steep stairs lead up to the Loft Room under the eaves, a unique family room with two interconnecting bedrooms and a spacious bathroom (shower over bath).

All seven rooms have been spruced up in boutique style with furnishings and fittings blending well with period beams and fireplaces - think soothing hues, brass or antique wooden beds, brightly upholstered easy chairs, painted furniture, gilt-framed mirrors and old photos of Tenterden. Due to the age of the building, a few of the bathrooms are quite compact, but all are fully tiled with power showers; both Superior double rooms have showers and baths. Dogs are allowed in all the rooms too.

Creature comforts include crisp cotton linen and sumptuous feather bedding, colourful blanket throws, Smart TVs, Nespresso machines, Joe's tea and homemade biscuits, and Isle of Arran soaps and lotions.

Restaurant & bar

Head chef Dom delivers a crowd-pleasing range of dishes on his eclectic modern pub menu - there's something for everyone and his Sunday roasts draw an appreciative crowd.

Using locally sourced produce, notably Rye Bay fish and scallops, the menu includes big-flavoured 'small plates', perhaps pork belly with apple, soy and seame or cider braised rabbit on walnut toast, and well-cooked pub classics like Jake's beer battered fish and chips, and bacon steak with bubble-and-squeak, fried egg and parsley sauce.

Hearty, Mediterranean inspired 'big plates' may take in burnt onion, charred leek and smoked garlic risotto; chicken and chorizo with pan haggerty, tomato and basil; and saddle of lamb, watercress, feta, peppers and herb oil. Lighter salads, affogato with dark chocolate ice cream for pudding, a great value 'Express' lunch menu, and braised lamb shank for Sunday lunch complete the pleasing foodie picture.

Balfour pioneers both English traditional sparkling wines and world class red, white and rose wines and a good selection are available by the glass and bottle at The Woolpack - do try one of the wine tasting flights (3 fizz & 3 still) to get a real flavour of the Balfour Collection. There are over 20 wines by the glass, in addition to Jake's Session IPA and Kentish Cider, also made at the winery in Kent, and locally brewed guest ales and craft beers.

Private dining

If you're looking for a venue for a party, event or wedding, then the newly refurbished Barn behind the Woolpack is the ideal space for such an event, and you can make good use of the secret garden opposite. Balfour offer some good packages for both business and leisure guests.

Things to do

Located in the glorious Weald of Kent, 16th-century cottage Smallhythe Place was the home of the greatly admired Victorian actress, Ellen Terry. Explore this pretty, half-timbered building and discover her fascinating theatrical collection. In the garden stands the thatched Barn Theatre.

The charming East Sussex town of Rye is filled with picturesque cobbled streets and clay-tiled roofs. Exploring the town really does convey the impression of visiting the set of a period costume drama or film. The National Trust-owned Lamb House, the former home of the American writer Henry James, is located in Rye and open to the public.

The picturesque Kent & East Sussex Railway weaves between Tenterden and Bodiam for 10.5 miles. Experience travel and service from a bygone age aboard beautifully restored coaches and steam locomotives dating from Victorian times.

Getting here

Directions

Nearest train station: Headcorn

Taxi from station: 17min

Drive: Cranbook 16min; Rye 22min; Ashford 25min

Address

High Street, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6AP

Prices & availability