The Bell in Ticehurst
A Public House Is Just That,
When a public house such as The Bell – a 16th Century coaching inn at the heart of a village like Ticehurst – is under threat, it steps beyond a ‘shame’ into the realms of a ‘crime’.
With the threat of closure and conversion to large private homes a public house can turn from a place of great vibrancy and community impact into something quiet, where the ‘public’ are taken out of the house.
Richard has campaigned tirelessly to save heritage assets from closure, conversion to private homes with net curtains and demolition for decades. He publicly fought and co-funded the campaign to save Smithfield General Market in London from demolition by Henderson Global Investors in a real-life David and Goliath battle. In 2014 that battle was won, the General Market was saved and will now be home to the British Museum.
Richard has quietly fought developers on many other cases where pubs, forges and shops were to be ripped from public use in favour of private profit. The Bell in Ticehurst was a little closer to home.
The story of The Bell stretches back to 1560 and to the time of Queen Elizabeth I, when it was a coaching inn.
A once-vibrant village on the Kent and Sussex boarder suffered the ignominy of losing its dominant public house, its bank, its bakery, the butcher’s shop in alarmingly quick succession. The collapse of our UK high streets has been well documented, but this was shocking; the village couldn’t lose nearly 500 years’ worth of ale-laden stories and enterprise for a moment’s profit.
As such, the bank, bakery, old haberdashery, 15th Century former offices of the National Horological Society and the Bell were purchased together. With a gentle hand, the soul and community hearth were brought back to Ticehurst.
A trove of collected artefacts, artistic installations and irreverent touches, this delightful public house also hosts seven quirky individually styled hotel bedrooms and four fairy-tale lodges set amongst a garden of whimsy. Each is unique, lavished with love and furnished with thought in every detail.
The bakery has been converted into a Zero Waste enterprise run by a local family, the Lansdownes. The Old Haberdashery is now home to Sonja’s eclectic treasures – it’s a modern-day curiosity shop.
Over 60 people are employed in these heritage assets, delivering more than £2 million of net social and economic benefit to the village over recent years. Those living in the locality, get a badge securing loyal locals substantial discounts on food and drinks.
Naturally there are beautiful interventions of civic art including pieces by Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Francis Bacon, Gavin Turk, Banksy, and many others.
‘These Are the Good Old Days’, done with modern love.