Friends Take On Their Village Pub, The Carpenters Arms

Three friends loved their Shepherd Neame local so much they came together to take it on for their village.

Sarah Neaves and Madeleine Bioletti, who have been best friends for 15 years, teamed up with friend and award-winning publican Mark Perkins to reopen The Carpenters Arms, Eastling.

The trio decided to get behind the bar after the previous licensees left and spent five weeks redecorating and renovating the historic building in the tiny village on the outskirts of Faversham.

While Sarah and Madeleine have no previous experience in hospitality, they can count on Mark’s knowledge as he has run several pubs in his career including The Carpenters Arms some years ago, along with other Shepherd Neame pubs The Plough at Lewson Street and The George at Newnham.

Their arrival proved popular – 760 people turned up for their opening night!
Sarah, 54, a local fruit farmer, said: “The Carpenters Arms is the hub of the village, and it’s one of the prettiest pubs in Kent. I have loved it forever.

“I’ve lived in the village for more than 20 years. So when it became available, I thought, this is it!”

The five-week project to get the pub the way they wanted was a team effort, with their families also rolling up their sleeves and getting involved, including Sarah and Madeleine’s sons, who are also best friends.

Outside the large beer garden and barn have had a thorough makeover, with new tables and chairs installed, while the barn is now home to the Chef’s Table, offering a private dining experience for up to 16 guests.

“It was really hard work but I loved doing it,” said Sarah. “It looks very pretty – we’re very pleased with everything.”

“We want it to be a nice, family environment. We want to make it really special for when people come out. It’s important to make sure everyone in the village loves it as they have been so supportive.”

Mark said: “It is brilliant, what we did in such a short time. And we got the clientele back straight away – the feedback has been great.”
Madeleine added: “Everyone in the village has been so incredibly supportive of what we’ve done and we’re delighted to get the locals back in the pub.”