The Chequers undoubtedly played a great part in the history of the village. It was used by pilgrims on the journey to Canterbury and was also a place where taxes were collected and other commercial dealings took place. The name 'Chequers' originates from a board marked out in squares, similar to a chessboard; the chequers - pieces of wood - would be used in calculations, since many agricultural workers could not write and found this method easier.
The Chequers was an important Coaching Inn and there was a large apartment in the roof in which post-boys and postillions slept, while their passengers stayed in the bedrooms below. The long roof of the Chequers was also believed to have been used as a 'smugglers' dump'; Whitstable was an important seaport in the 14th and 15th centuries and the only road linking it to Maidstone at that time ran through Doddington.
The pub, previously under the control of George Beer and Rigdons Brewery, is now owned by Shepherd Neame brewers. It consists of two separate bars; the 15th Century Saloon Bar and the earlier, 14th Century Public Bar. Formerly, there were four bars - one for each of the social classes. Around 1804, when the Public Bar was transformed from two into a single room, a main post was accidentally removed and, as the building slowly listed, customers were forced to support the ceiling beam until hasty repairs were carried out. There are some fine examples of Mullion windows, an Inglenook fireplace and a 'secret' room, possibly once used as a priest-hole or for smuggling activities. The Lounge Bar was also utilised as a doctor's surgery and dispensary at one time.
On the site of the current car-park there existed a small pond, which was filled in 1947 due to constant flooding. An old, thatched wooden barn also stood on the site; it was used for various purposes including dances, whist drives, the youth club, the rat and sparrow club and the 1953 coronation celebrations. 'Hauntings' of The Chequers include a Cavalier who was killed upstairs and a lady (the wife of a previous landlord) heard playing the piano.
In 1993, the construction of the new wall around the pub to combat flooding of the bars and cellars, caused considerable differences of opinion amongst villagers; the story was even reported in the local papers. There have been nine landlords since 1895. Josie, the present landlady, ensures that the Chequers retains its traditional atmosphere, which is welcoming both to locals and visitors. The Chequers received the CAMRA Pub of the Year awards in 1995 (for Swale) and in 1996 for Swale, Kent and South-East England. In 1995, it was featured on French television.
In November 2003 Telabria pioneered wireless satellite broadband at the Chequers; the pub was a Wi-Fi hotspot and supplied wireless internet to the village, the company went into liquidation but the pub still has a WiFi connection for it's customers.
From February 2004 a mobile Post Office openened in the pub on Monday afternoons, this has now changed to Tuesdays between 13.00 to 15.00 hours
Both events attracted much media interest and the Chequers featured on local television news programs, local radio and also in local and national newspapers and magazines. A live television broadcast of the BBC 2 program 'Business Lunch' also took place here.
In February 2005 The Chequers Inn won The Morning Advertiser 'Best
Village Pub' award for the London and Home Counties region.
The Chequers welcomes ramblers, cyclists, dog walkers and acompanied children. Bar snacks and meals served 12 till 2.30, and meals 6.30 till 9.00pm, no food on Sunday evenings or on mondays, the pub is closed on Monday lunchtimes. Folk music evenings, band nights and "Open Mike" nights are popular events and form part of the Chequers Tradition.
Additional information on the name 'Chequers' contributed by Ned Gayner of Charing :
I read with interest your comments on the origin of the pub name "Chequers".Also of note is the fruit of the Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis) that was known (since at least the middle ages) as the chequer tree. The fruit (also known as chequers) were the main flavouring used in brewing ale before the introduction of the Hop to Westbere in 1520. It is for that reason that the ancient symbol for an ale-house was a bush. And why so many pubs used to be called "The Bush". And also accounts for the naming of many pubs called "The Chequers".
The Chequers Inn Bygone Picture Gallery (click icons to enlarge)
Chequers in the snow
Bygone Bike Meets
Pic courtesy Liz Sewell
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