Temptation: The Woodcock Flies Again

IMG_20190719_124745 (1).jpg

Temptation, that desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. It can also suggest that it can be a thing that attracts or tempts someone suggesting enticement, seduction, a draw or a pull or equally an invitation.

And that to me sums up The Woodcock, a walk leaders’ nightmare, the pub that no one wants to leave.

But it closed in 2018 and appeared doomed, never to fly again but like a phoenix it has arisen again and it re-opened its doors in April 2019.

On 1066 Harold’s Way, there are still 6 miles to walk to Bodiam Castle, uphill and down dale and across the Kent Ditch. King Harold and his men walked this stretch but The Woodcock wasn’t open then. And when planning Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House, I made sure that the route passed The Woodcock after all, I get to choose the route.

The good and righteous of Iden Green realised what a draw the pub would be and banished it a mile away from the village, down a narrow country lane that led to Dingleden but the villagers I spoke to know the back way – just 5 minutes down this path and on the route of 1066 Harold’s Way, and I followed their admission.

The 2019 version of The Woodcock has been refreshed rather than altered beyond recognition. A couple of walls have disappeared, some of the nooks and crannies have gone, the new bar is sleek and bright, the fire is lit and the floors levelled ready for the success that eluded the Woodcock of old.

Once it felt like an old and comfortable pair of slippers where the slightly dark atmosphere and the warmth of the fire and the conviviality of old men at the bar promised times past until Greene King’s accountants became the owners.

Mind your heads, the beams are low there’s a fire lit and on warm days, there is a garden to enjoy. It is a free house again and beers are Cellar Head Amber, Long Man Best, Harveys Best, all on handpump and well kept.

There is still an old world feel but it is without ornamentation and just a little of that old warmth that catered for the mind, body and spirit has gone – perhaps a wider market beckons for The Woodcock although a television was being screwed to the wall as I left!

But, lunchtime on an Autumn day, sitting around the fire, talking amongst friends, it will still prove hard to leave and continue the walk to Bodiam Castle.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey and Hastings Castle inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The Woodcock  will be No 49 in Beer Notes

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

The Woodcock

A Little Something for 2020

3Cs Scotney

Explore the history and the industrial past of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on a walk between the four great National Trust properties; Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s.

Re-walked, revised and updated for 2019, the guidebook takes you on a journey through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty across Kent and East Sussex

“It’s a highly original work and the well-written guidebook is full of interesting historical information including smugglers’ tales, rebellions, industry and murders.” Walk, the magazine of The Ramblers, March 2016.

From History Walks, Talks and Books – More than just footsteps on a Path.

For more information visit: www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Next Talk– Walking the High Weald

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House

3 Castles Rye U3A

Look Inside http://online.pubhtml5.com/uslz/gnfe/

This talk is an engaging account of a walk between four National Trust properties; Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s, that explores the history and the industrial past of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in this part of Kent and East Sussex.

And such a varied landscape brings together tales to tell of Mad Jack Fuller and Bloody Baker, Admiral ‘Foulweather Jack’ Norris, and Captain Swing. There are tales of smugglers and Mechanical riots, Napoleon’s horse, aliens in Robertsbridge and, of course, that ‘vengeful dragon’ in Angley Wood.  Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House will take you on a picturesque and enjoyable tour of the High Weald – without getting mud on your boots.

From History Walks, Talks and Books – More than just footsteps on a Path.

For more information visit: www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Next Talk– Walking the High Weald

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House

2019 3 Cs Polegate

Look Inside http://online.pubhtml5.com/uslz/gnfe/

This talk is an engaging account of a walk between four National Trust properties; Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s, that explores the history and the industrial past of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in this part of Kent and East Sussex.

And such a varied landscape brings together tales to tell of Mad Jack Fuller and Bloody Baker, Admiral ‘Foulweather Jack’ Norris, and Captain Swing. There are tales of smugglers and Mechanical riots, Napoleon’s horse, aliens in Robertsbridge and, of course, that ‘vengeful dragon’ in Angley Wood.  Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House will take you on a picturesque and enjoyable tour of the High Weald – without getting mud on your boots.

From History Walks, Talks and Books – More than just footsteps on a Path.

For more information visit: www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Talking The Walk – Hawkhurst Local History Society

3 Castles Hawkhurst Local History GroupThis talk is an engaging account of a walk between four National Trust properties; Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s, that explores the history and the industrial past of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in this part of Kent and East Sussex.

Three Castles is an opportunity to take the time to explore the castles and houses and towns and villages along the route. It follows man’s ingenuity and progress and a changing industry from agriculture to iron, to sheep, to the woollen trade, smuggling, hopfields and back to agriculture.

There is a soul to the High Weald; one that reflects the passions and industry of man and also the tensions of war and rebellion. It is now a very pastoral picture with only occasional reminders of the noise, smoke and fire of the iron industry. The ironmasters and the rich woollen trade are survived by their architecture at Sissinghurst, Cranbrook and Burwash and Brightling. The derelict hoppickers cottages, next to the River Teise in Lamberhurst, provide a startling contrast to the rich and landed.

Talking the Walk

3 Castles Cranbrook U3A

This talk is an engaging account of a walk between four National Trust properties; Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s, that explores the history and the industrial past of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in this part of Kent and East Sussex.

Three Castles is an opportunity to take the time to explore the castles and houses and towns and villages along the route. It follows man’s ingenuity and progress and a changing industry from agriculture to iron, to sheep, to the woollen trade, smuggling, hopfields and back to agriculture.

There is a soul to the High Weald; one that reflects the passions and industry of man and also the tensions of war and rebellion. It is now a very pastoral picture with only occasional reminders of the noise, smoke and fire of the iron industry. The ironmasters and the rich woollen trade are survived by their architecture at Sissinghurst, Cranbrook and Burwash and Brightling. The derelict hoppickers cottages, next to the River Teise in Lamberhurst, provide a startling contrast to the rich and landed.

And such a varied landscape brings together tales to tell of Mad Jack Fuller and Bloody Baker, Admiral ‘Foulweather Jack’ Norris, and Captain Swing. There are tales of smugglers and Mechanical riots, Napoleon’s horse, aliens in Robertsbridge and, of course, that ‘vengeful dragon’ in Angley Wood.

For information on this and other talks visit:        www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Walking the High Weald

Talking the Walk

3 Castles Blind Vets Pt 2

The second part of the story, from Goudhurst to Bodiam with tales of Papal spies, murder, furnaces and forges, Mad Jack Fuller and aliens in Roberstbridge

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk/talks 

Tragedy at Iden Green

This Bird is dead, deceased, gone to meet its Maker.

The Woodcock is no more.

IMGP2132 cropWhat sad tragedy it is that walkers will never feel the warmth again of the fire on winter walks or sit in the garden on a summer’s day.

Isolated and weather boarded, remote down its country lane that led to Dingleden and little else, it was supported and enjoyed by all who discovered its charms.

It was always a walk leader’s nightmare for every group would want to stop and savour its delights and bang their heads on the beams inside. The Woodcock sat by the footpath from Sissinghurst to Bodiam Castle and I found its charms irresistible when researching and walking both 1066 Harold’s Way and Three Castles but now the doors are shut and its lease for sale.

It was once a freehouse and served as a ‘gentlemen’s club’ for the owner, who delighted in serving Goacher’s excellent beers and food to satisfy, but he retired around four years ago and Greene King became the owners, offering a tenancy and a beer tie for dreamers.

The rest is history but its reputation will continue with the hope that the Woodcock will fly once again to the delight of every walker who passes by.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the long-distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey and Hastings Castle inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

Read The Woodcock Blog 2014

https://historywalksblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/the-woodcock-iden-green/

The Queen’s Head Sedlescombe

clip_image002

The epitome of a beautiful English pub, tile hung, deep red bricks add the lustre of another age. Originally 15th century, there have been additions and extensions since Queen Elizabeth I’s time but the mellow brick walls remain and possibly the fireplace although those tiles are 19th century and ‘lie over the original beams and plaster for additional weather-proofing’ (Twenty Centuries in Sedlescombe by Beryl Lucey)

A hint of William Morris, creeper covered walls, brick paving and shrubs by the front door invite you to enter. Luckily, this is no pastiche for there is an attention to detail inside this now dining pub with a bar.

Times change, that country pub devoted to beer has long gone, thankfully in the case of The Queen’s Head for a few years ago the pub was doomed, dying on its feet, dark rooms, insipid beer and what food was available was advertised on fluorescent stickers pinned to the wall behind the bar.

Now food is the driver and excellent it is too with fish and chips and prime beef burgers amidst the risottos, sea bass duck breast and the ‘Specials Board’.  The fish platter shared was very good and despite the walk from Bodiam Castle I forwent beer for a chilled white wine and a pint of soda water on this hot day sat in the garden – very un-Rambler like.

It has that comfortable air inside with little rooms, old table and odd chairs, fires in winter and this particular July Thursday afternoon, a choir rehearsing in the back room.

Service too is very good, attentive without being demanding.

Increased trade has increased the quality of the beer with Harvey’s Best, Long Man Blonde, Sharpe’s Doom and Fuller’s Oliver Island on offer on my walking day.

Remember before you leave add a few coins to the collecting box on the bar – for the village geese – and be especially careful when you drive away to avoid the noisy birds.

I was walking 1066 Harold’s Way (Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey via Sedlescombe) inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings.

 

It is the final section of this long-distance walk, from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, and with just three miles to go it is worth stopping for a pint.

 

The Queen’s Head, The Green, Sedlescombe, East Sussex, TN33 0QA  Tel.  01424 870228

http://www.thequeensheadsedlescombe.com

CAMRA WhatPub

Advance Warning of Possible Congestion

 

What a weekend it will be, celebrating 950 years since the Battle of Hastings, 14th October 1066.

Battle re-enactments, civic ceremonies and a full programme of events organised by Concorde 1066 and English Heritage and the Normans have been invited too.

I wonder if they will be asked to camp on Telham Hill?

But the main event must be the opportunity to walk the final few miles of 1066 Harold’s Way from Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey inspired by King Harold’s epic march from York.

In fact it seems that so many of you are ‘doing’ the walk that weekend that the footpaths are likely to be well trod, The Queens Head at Sedlescombe busy and with the Abbey Hotel normally packed with re-enactors, try The Kings Head on Mount Street or The Chequers at Lower Lake for a better pint to celebrate your march to Battle.

Enjoy the Walk

CLOG  Battle Ramblers 

Javier and Gavin  Battle 41 club

Links