Sittingbourne – Red Lion

This pub is listed in the Good Beer Guide and in its previous incarnation it is thought to have hosted Henry VII, Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey. It has been a coaching inn for centuries, although is now smaller than it used to be.

The fantastic courtyard area, steeped in history and quite beautiful.

And this wins my award, which is a new one, for the worst pub redecoration I’ve ever seen. The interior of the pub has been gutted and replaced with a pool table at the rear, in the once relaxed dining area, and the seating has been mostly ripped out. Indeed, there’s little seating left in the pub at all.

More space is now used on darts boards and there was loud music blaring out during my visit. And there weren’t many customers, which is perhaps fortunate as they couldn’t have all sat down unless some went into the beer garden. The seating that is in the pub isn’t really appropriate or functional and it does feel a complete mess. Wetherspoons may have their faults, but they do seem to understand the importance of a well designed and functional interior.

But, back to the pub, the service was polite and efficient, although I was told my beer selection was £1.40 and when I handed over £1.50 the staff member didn’t burden herself with giving me any change. I would say it was busy to excuse this, but it wasn’t. The beer selection was limited to two real ales and I opted for the Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, which was well kept to be fair.

There was no soap in the male toilets and the wi-fi didn’t work very well, although the landlord did come over and tell me that, which I did appreciate. Actually, the landlord seemed quite sensible and welcoming, but I’m really not sure what on earth Craft Union are trying to achieve here.

This pub should be a goldmine if a decent selection of real ale was served and the interior was ripped out and the pub returned to be a food based venue. Taking out nearly all the seats and filling the rear half with a pool table and darts board is what I’d call brave, but perhaps there is a plan which will evolve and that it’s something that I haven’t understood. But, if that theory does work, why do it in such an historic pub?