6. Local Business

6.1 We asked…

6.1

6.2Pubs

We asked..

6.2

6.3
Which is your favourite? This is unfair on the Four Elms Inn as it closed while the survey was in progress. Many people said that their favourite pub was the one that was closest.

  • Four Elms 24 votes
  • The Greyhound 41 votes – friendly, welcoming and the food is good
  • The Henry VIII 74 – good food, locals and lovely landlords
  • The Kentish Horse 23 – child friendly, good value food, nice garden

6.4 We asked what could be improved. Many answers were not specific to a particular pub. The following is a summary of the views expressed. NB any comments specifically about the Four Elms Inn have been removed from this list given that it was closed and is now open under new management.

6.4

6.5 We asked for a list of the facilities you would like to find in the pubs.

6.5

6.6 We asked what kind of event the proposed annual beer and music festival at the Henry should be and the many ideas have been fed back to David and Tony.

Feedback to the Questionnaire responses from landlord David Brant of the Henry VIII (www.hever.org/local info/ pubs)

Positive points to highlight are;

  • We have introduced free wi fi for customers.
  • The introduction of guest ales throughout the year.
  • Updated kitchen hours – see below.
  • Seasonal menu changes / daily specials.
  • Continued refurbishments projects planned for 2013.

Shepherd & Neame beers – We are a tenanted pub & as a result have a tie to Shepherd & Neame beers through our contract terms. The good news is that sporadically throughout the year Shepherd & Neame do work with other breweries across the country allowing “The Henry” to take advantage of their offerings.

Children’s play area – For the comfort of all our guests, we have no plans for such facility.

Stuff from Brake Bros – Yes we do have a weekly Brakes delivery, however Brakes are a catering distribution company which supply all manner of items to our industry. All our dishes are hand prepared and homemade, unless otherwise stated, raw materials to make homemade produce have to be bought from somewhere! Oh and brakes bros are now called Brakes.

Removal of scented candles – We have occasionally use scented candles, but if you have an allergy we will happy extinguish the candles for you, if you don’t say we won’t know.

Summary

Tony & I have been landlords for nearly 3 years (February 2013) at King Henry VIII Inn, we believe we have responded well to what people want.  We are always happy to listen to new ideas although of course we can’t please everybody, but we believe we are very honest about this. For those of you that know Tony & I well, you will know we are our own biggest critics but I guess that is because we care.

We now have free Wi-fi for customers, offer several vegetarian options which are updated with our daily specials, have a refurbished outdoor seating area, which is due for further renovations very soon. We are aware that we have experienced problems with table configurations and moving of furniture this summer but it’s worth reminding guests (past & present) that such rules are born from past experiences, which we are always happy to discuss further. Kitchen open times have also been amended, we now serve our full menu on a Monday, kitchen is open from 12:00 – 21:00 on both Friday & Saturday and opening hours extended to 19:00 on Sunday. Any questions based on the above responses, to learn more about “The Henry” or to book a table please contact us by email – kinghenryviiihever@yahoo.com.

Shops

6.7  We asked what would make you use the local shops or businesses more

We asked what would make you use them more. There were a variety of suggestions as follows:We asked what would make you use them more. There were a variety of suggestions as follows:

6.7

Hever Castle

6.8 We asked what would persuade you to buy an annual pass.

Many said they had no wish for one or no need as they were members of the RHS etc. Other responses were as follows:

6.8

6.9 We asked what would make you visit more if you are not entitled to a discount. Many responses repeated the answers to the previous question. Others made the following suggestions

6.9

6.10 We asked if there was anything else the castle could offer to tempt you to visit more

6.106.10a 6.11 We asked what impact the castle has on you

6.11

These are some of the positive comments:

6.12These are some of the negative or neutral comments:

6.13

6.14

 

Response from the Castle re questionnaire

We note a vast array of responses with regard to the Castle and are very pleased to see that the majority of people feel that the Castle has a positive impact on them.  It is impossible to address all the different queries and requests, but I think it is worth noting that the Castle will have been open to the public for 50 years come 2013 and that the busiest years were in the 1980s and early 1990s.  Indeed on at least two or three occasions, visitor numbers exceeded 300,000, peaking at about 330,000 in 1990, 1996 and 1997, albeit 1980, 1989, 1999 and 2003 came close.  It was during this period that we would have certainly had a peak in coach numbers; indeed coaches on the whole have reduced considerably in number since their heydays of the 1970s/80s, as significantly fewer people travel by coach now and there is much greater car ownership.

With regard to cheaper tickets, which seem to be a common theme, we understand that our discounted rate offered for local people compares very favourably with other visitor attractions of a similar national importance.  Indeed some visitor attractions with similar visitor numbers to Hever Castle do not offer such discounts for their locals.

The other element to different types of discount is that the annual pass is by far the simplest form to use and I imagine for local people who make the best of our facilities, the expectation is that they might well come several times per year.  Indeed we are aware that some people come almost every week, which means that the cost for an individual could amount to less than £1 per visit.  Even for just ten visits per year, this would equate to £2.31 per visit on a Gardens Only ticket.  The cost per individual on a Family annual pass would be even less.

It is also worth noting that, for 2012, a normal Adult Gardens Only annual pass is £30.00, whereas the cost for a local resident would be £23.10.  A Family Gardens Only annual pass is £79.50, as opposed to the local price of £61.20, which for two adults and two children, or one adult and three children, makes even better value if the Castle is visited on a number of occasions throughout the year.  The discounted local areas are principally those areas which are most affected by traffic and include Hever, Mark Beech and Bough Beech.

I know that some people at Four Elms wish that they could be included too, but realistically significantly less tourists approach via Four Elms than through the three above-named villages.  I would still recommend an annual pass though, as it offers very good value, particularly if you wish to visit on a regular basis.  Annual pass holders receive other privileges on top of the relatively cheap entry, including 10% discount in the shop, newsletters and priority booking for Christmas events, including Santa, plus half-price Christmas Evening Special tickets.

I also note that some people commented on wanting drama, cinema and concerts locally– all of this is currently provided by the Hever Festival Theatre.  They will be publishing their programme of events for 2013 in the New Year.  If locals have not been to this, I would recommend giving it a go, as the theatre company has been at the Castle for 30 years now.  While currently there are no discounts for local people or annual pass holders, we are working with the theatre to explore whether we might do something for the future.  It is particularly worth noting that they are doing a greater variety of events.  For example, this year they had everything from Gilbert and Sullivan through to special plays and performances for children and folk concerts.

If there is anything that people particularly wish to raise about the Castle, it is always best to come straight to the Estate Office, by email preferably at mail@hevercastle.co.uk.  We are usually able to respond very quickly.

On a final note, the Castle would very much like to thank the local community for the support it has received and wishes to reiterate that while we are conscious that we cannot please all the people all of the time, we do try our best.

Regards

Duncan Leslie MRICS
Chief Executive

 

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