Historic pub transforms disused barn into popular village shop

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The FitzWalter Arms in Goodnestone near Canterbury has transformed a disused barn into a village shop to support the local community.

Licensee Lynn Fisher took over the historic Shepherd Neame pub, which dates back to 1589, last July. She decided to convert the barn after reading that grants were available from Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.

She said: “I spotted the grant initiative on offer from Pub is The Hub back in December 2020. Our pub has a large barn in the grounds which we haven’t been using, and as Goodnestone doesn’t have a village shop, we thought it was a great opportunity to create one in that space.

“My application for the grant was successful, and with the help of my brother-in-law, we converted the barn across three weekends, putting a non-permanent shell including suspended wooden decking inside to preserve the original features.”

The shop is open every day and offers a range of locally sourced meat, fruit and vegetables, along with a selection of fresh bread and other essentials. It also sells products made by local residents including wooden gifts, chocolate bouquets and wreaths, along with takeaway snacks and drinks.

The pub also launched a takeaway food offer after lockdown began, including flatstone pizzas on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and roast dinners on Sunday.

Lynn said: “We have been blown away with the support our village shop has received since it opened three weeks ago. The takeaway coffees have proved particularly popular with walkers.

“When we reopen, we plan to continue with the shop, with tables outside to serve coffee and cakes. In the future, we would love to offer cycle hire as well as our pub is on a number of popular cycle routes. It has been a difficult year but we are really proud of what we have achieved, working to support the community and play our part at the heart of village life.”

Pub is The Hub Regional Advisor Tim Tempest said: “This shop is set to be a lifeline to the village and has the full support from local residents and the parish council. There are plans for more community services to be offered by the pub going forward. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic underlined the need for an affordable and accessible shop facility to support local people especially those that are vulnerable and suffering from social isolation. And who better to provide that support than Lynn as a caring publican.” 

The FitzWalter Arms village shop is open 9-11am and 3-6pm Monday to Friday; 10am-6pm Saturdays; and 10am-3pm Sundays.