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A Feast for all the Senses

We had an exclusive look at the Pig at Bridge Place, now that this beautiful 17th Century Manor House has been transformed into its new incarnation as lifestyle restaurant with rooms.

That rather modest description is possibly a little misleading because, from the moment you step through the front door, you are immersed in a feast for all the senses, not just the eyes. The Pig at Bridge Place is the sixth enterprise in the Pig’s portfolio, owned by Home Grown Hotels, offering guests a refreshingly informal style of hospitality, superb authentic, locally sourced dining and luxury accommodation.

Robin Hutson, CEO and celebrated designer, Judy Hutson are the talented couple behind the company’s ethos, which is to find unique properties in rural locations and to create sensational settings, described as affordable luxury and that are dedicated to providing outstanding dining experiences, driven by the 25-mile radius rule. All ingredients cooked and served in their restaurants are homegrown in their on-site kitchen gardens or from locally sourced top quality suppliers. The gardeners work in partnership with the chefs to create fresh, unfussy menus that capitalise on seasonal availability.

All the Pig hotels are different and have their own style and personality, whilst adhering to the Home Grown Hotels’ philosophy. In the case of the Pig at Bridge, every possible care has been taken to ensure the Jacobean gem retains its period features and character. It has been lovingly and sympathetically restored. Everywhere you look you see evidence of thoughtful combinations of textures, fabrics, colours and gorgeous materials, that work beautifully with the inspired interior design of Judy Hutson, who employs quirky yet graceful touches, and reclaimed or repurposed treasures to bring it all together in a fusion that works beautifully. You never stop noticing her genius strokes throughout the whole property.

There is no doubt that this has been a major restoration project. It’s good to know that local tradesmen and craftsmen have been employed throughout this beautiful manor house’s revival and they have succeeded in reinstating it as a valuable part of the local community, offering jobs, improving prosperity and putting it on the map as a great place to visit in Kent.

Whilst works on the renovation were being carried out an exciting discovery was made in the bar, part of the existing ceiling was removed and a very fine example of a Jacobean moulded plaster ceiling was discovered underneath. This has now been fully exposed revealing a perfect example of a typical pattern from the 17th Century, complete with quatrefoils, rhombuses and sprays of flowers. There are not many of these beauties left due to careless developers ripping out period features in recent years, so it is a great find.

The main building is replete with original panelled walls, timber floors, ornate carved fireplaces and staircases, and furnished in a sumptuous mix of fabrics and colours, that creates a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. There are many welcoming rooms to sit and relax in, the bar, lounge, study and the snug, this last one is just as the name suggests, tucked away and very cosy.

There are delightful original features in every room, hallway, bedroom and bathroom. One such feature is an ancient wall safe that is tucked above the fireplace in one of the smaller sitting rooms, it’s obviously been there for many years and it’s great to imagine a previous owner stashing their valuables and turning the key.

There are 7 bedrooms of varying sizes in the main house, charmingly furnished with style in line with the rest of the décor, not surprisingly full of character and period features. This high standard of ‘affordable luxury’ is continued throughout the rest of the guest accommodation with 12 spacious rooms in the Coach House, 2 family-friendly lodges, the two-storey Barn and the 7 Hop Pickers’ Huts down a wooden boardwalk in woodland near the Nailbourne river. These are comfortably furnished each with a double bedroom and bathroom, complete with wood-burning stove.

Dining at the Pig

The main building of the old Jacobean manor house has been extended in an almost seamless fashion with the addition of the Coach House. This houses the light and airy restaurant with a generous courtyard and terrace adjacent to the river, for outside dining. The kitchen opens out into the interior dining space, allowing diners to connect with the chefs preparing the refreshingly original and truly superb dishes on their unique menu.

There is so much to see in the Coach House, everywhere you look you notice wonderful quirky cameos of shabby chic inventiveness. Overhead, reclaimed caged bulk lights from Battersea Power Station look very stylish, as do the salvaged wall light shades from WW2 trenches. The furniture is all reused warm wood, reinforcing the laid back informality that is the Pig’s signature style.

Evidence of the home-grown kitchen garden’s productivity is on show in the many jars of colourful preserved fruits and vegetables on shelving around the walls of the restaurant. Interestingly this is also secondhand and has come from a pottery where they were used for drying pots before firing.

As previously mentioned the menu changes with the seasons, drawing on whatever is ready for use from the wonderful kitchen garden that is laid out within view of the restaurant, along with ingredients from the best quality artisan producers within the 25-mile catchment area.

The menu is varied and imaginative, offering something to everyone’s taste. The food looks and tastes stupendous, we recommend:

  • Hock Eggs and Colman’s Dressing.
  • Slow Roasted & Pulled Beef with Carrot Puree & Preserved Red Onion.
  • Alkham Valley Farm Beef & Wife of Bath’s Pie, Pastry Top and Buttered Mash & Liquor.
  • Pan-Fried Hersden Farm Venison, Roasted Tomatoes, African Blue Basil Pesto.
  • Wye Valley Rhubarb & Rose Sorbet.
  • Garden Mint Blancmange.
  • Piggy Fours, you must try these delicious sweet treats with delightful smiling piggy faces!

There is also a stunning array of local cheeses and superb wine list all to be discovered and enjoyed at what has got to be the best dining experience to arrive in Kent for a decade.

For more information go to: ThePigHotel.com

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