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Rising Sun, Kemsing

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user reviews of the Rising Sun, Kemsing

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Most offbeat, quirky pub I've ever come across. Didn't get a chance to examine the bric-a-brac lying around the ancient, timbered bar but the collection of cats and dogs are still going strong. Looks like parrot is no more. Run by a mother and daughter team who look characters in their own right. They were most welcoming and was chatting away but after a half of decent Abbot ale retreated from the attentions of the most friendly animals back to Kemsing for lunch in the Bell.
redbarrel - 16 Feb 2018 21:41
An extraordinary time-warp: a flint-faced former hunting lodge with low beams and a massive stone fireplace. Adorned with bric-a-brac: twenty brass spray-guns lined up on a shelf, Land Girl medals, a military jacket in a dust-cover, books piled on a window-shelf, framed photos of tractors on rough-plastered walls. And Charlie the African grey parrot, more than 40 years old. Ask the friendly landlady to tell you about her prize herd of Dexter beef cattle. Two micros on handpump, and a cask of Farmer Jim's cider on the counter. Highly recommended.
Viewfinder - 7 Sep 2015 06:23
Quirky but welcoming - had a nice pint in the garden
Aliboo - 11 Jun 2015 17:58
we chanced upon this pub walking the NDW. We were extremely grateful we took the 5 min diversion (obviously drinking time made it rather longer). Like stepping back in time and in a GOOD way! Landlady friendly, 1 dog, 2 cats AND a talking parrot!! Indoors is cosy and amazing. The sun was shining so the garden was lovely. BTW, I don't give 10 points! expect Dr Who to turn up!
russellsimpson341 - 31 Jul 2013 21:31
Found pub again after driving in circles through countryside for an age. Worth finding - excellent pint of Riptide in great garden.
supaken - 3 Jul 2012 11:57
This place just gets better, or worse, depending on your outlook in life.

I was back up here recently and now, if you want a drink, you ring a bell outside the door furiously, like a man possessed, and the landlady appears after a minute or so to serve.

Talking to a well-known regular, it appears she now prefers the company of her herd of cows to her customers, so pulls your pint and then retires to the barn to tend the animals.

I think it's great; typical English eccentricity and totally normal for the locality. Where else would you get served by a landlady in a boiler-suit? The regular tells us that's about normal for 'round here'.

On that basis, purely for the entertainment element, I am upping my rating a couple of notches.
tractorsnbeer - 26 Apr 2012 21:53
Finally got a chance to visit and loved the place. Like travelling back 50 years so there is no point in comparing it to modern pub facilities but why would you want to? Excellent pint at £2.70, friendly staff and locals
becked - 3 Oct 2011 17:35
Reading these reviews has left me longing to visit again. Much easier when I lived within walking distance.

Talking of cats here, as someone was, we got our latest cat here, she is a real treasure!

Just lovely and real and old and rural. I have made great friends with the parrot too. He loves a chat – if you say hallo to him, he can say hello back in both a male and a female cockney voice.

I remember one particular magical night here with a big storm going on outside.

This place has SOUL and lots of it.

Very generous and reasonable with the wine too – I always used to drink the Real Ale, but I like the white wine here.

Nope – come here for the poetry. This is precisely the sort of almost unfindable place that provides one with resonant memories and feeds the soul.

greidbrown - 7 Aug 2011 16:39
Excellent pint of dark star. Found pub while lost, not sure if could ever find it again, but will certainly try.
supaken - 21 Jun 2011 19:33
I love this place! I’m afraid I’ve not got much to add other than agreement with the previous review. If clinical hygiene is your style, prob best to pass on by. But if you’re after oodles of character, a real pub atmosphere & smell, cheap-as-you-like rounds in a gorgeous flint and brick building nestling in a great country setting, then do your best to find The Rising Sun near Kemsing. There’s even a 40-year old parrot to keep you company! So many people use these forums to have a dig at places after a visit when they wouldn’t dream of saying anything at the time – you know who they are! This is a great pub to search out and if you don’t like it, well, have a moan – it won’t stop the rest of us enjoying what’s on offer.
BiffoBeer - 4 May 2011 16:01
This pub is in a 1930s time warp, and it is what it is. It is a waste of time commenting on the decor etc. if you like Harvesters or Beefeaters then forget it, but this pub oozes character and I strongly recommend that you pay it a visit, while you still can and while it's still open. It is hard to find and surely doesn't get a lot of passing trade! I've been twice in the past month. I love it and will definitely go again.
JerryW - 21 Jan 2011 22:54
visited yesterday, certainly its tucked away (taken me 10 years to refind it). real olde world shabby look to it. on a sunday midday 10 people in there, wine, tea, and coffee drinking walkers, cyclists and locals. it does have a smell to it, but its charming - previous points accepted - i did spot some hands that needed washing but at 2.60 for a respectable ale - thats sensible pricing these days.

think mr tribus from the tv show where he was a hoarder who's house needed a good spring clean and you wont be disappointed

its certainly the other end of the gastro village pub worlde
popeye321 - 17 Jan 2011 11:48
I was invited to this pub last week and yes, it was very dirty, but the atmosphere was good, the place was busy and there was a log burner keeping the place cosy.
Then there was 'THE INCIDENT'
The landlady's cat did a poo right in the middle of the floor where we were sitting. The smell was dreadful and everyone moved to the other bar but the worst thing of all was that the landaldy just ignored it! She carried on serving at the bar like nothing had happened. She didn't bother to go and clean it up; I think one of the customers shovelled it up and threw it in the fire. We left soon after that as the stink was overpowering.
I understand from our friends who are regulars, that she has had a bit of a struggle to get customers, and I can see why now.
It is a real shame as the pub looks like to could do very well as it is an old-fashioned place with bags of charm and character that you don't get too often these days. It is a free-house and the beer was really quite good.
There is no food on offer, just crisps and nuts, so have your dinner before you visit, if you dare.
New management and a damn good clean-up would make this pub a real gem.
tractorsnbeer - 17 Nov 2010 20:30
should come with a health warning
moredave - 31 Mar 2010 12:00
Nice to see your entry, lour. As I mentioned a couple of years ago, my heyday for hanging out at the Royal Oak was some 5-10 years before your birth. Jack Benstead--your Grandad--was the publican then. When my wife and I spent a bit of time there in the late 70s, early 80s, Jack had retired and the place was run by Trevor, whose last name I can't remember. I had a local artist do a nice pen and ink sketch of the place. I'll try to upload a copy of it on my website at PeterJBradford(dotcom).
peterbradford - 8 Mar 2010 18:41
My Grandparents Jack and Bunny owned this pub for many years, my mum, Nova, was born in 1940 and the Rising Sun was her home until 1959 when she got married, my Grandparents moved in 1976. I was born December the 8th 1964 at 10pm and at that time electricity arrived at the Rising Sun, an expensive night for Grandad, a first Grandaughter and no more gas lamps!!!

There were two rooms when I was growing up, one had a hatch as the bar and a dart board the other the main bar. The extension was previously a cow shed and was full of muck and bullets and a mad Jack Russell called Chummy who we kept away from.

I haven't been there for years and it's sad to think it is run down and un-kempt, Nana and Grandad kept a tidy place and a pretty good pint was pulled too!
Lour - 4 Mar 2010 18:54
good advice Guy, it's often a good idea to see what everyone else is drinking in these sort of places,I automaticaly went for the No5, I agree it's a top place,it would be great to see it back to it's former glory though,when it was a lot busier
vinnnie - 7 Jan 2010 12:46
I love this pub.
You need to drink the more popular bitter - and that may be a personal choice of Michelle - the Landlady. If you want a spotless PC pub then you ain't gonna like this one - if you like real unique identity then you may - repeat MAY - like this - personally - I do.

Oh - and my dog was born and bred there - and she is an amazing little tyke and she came well adjusted and open minded - a good template for your visit to this rare tavern.
guydagger - 8 Dec 2009 23:03
i have to agree that this is a lovely place, as i've said my father in-law goes to the tractor conventions here, it's a shame some one doesn't take the time to look after the cask ales, if thier going to serve them they should at least be drinkable, if not they should be withdrawn not served up regardless
vinnnie - 22 Oct 2008 09:43
Revisited with RogerB after concerns had been raised about the negative comments.

I would agree with Roger in his excellent write up of the place. The pub still holds considerable charm and character for me, and the vintage tractors turning up as we were drinking in the splendid beer garden was a highlight and the sort of thing that seems to happen whenever I come here. I could drink here all day, and look forward to coming here again, as this is a rare and special place. However, the beer condition and the lack of food do mean I will bring down my original score a bit.
SilkTork - 9 Oct 2008 20:42
This rustic, extended, stone farmhouse is situated on a minor road that weaves through the countryside and makes a welcome stop on the scenic walk from Kemsing village. The spacious beer garden has a kids area and a few benches although they are beginning to show signs of wear and are certainly in need of replacing. The old weathered pub sign has been replaced and happily, the St Georges Cross still flutters around in the wind. The interior is divided into 2 with the Main bar having low ceilings, plenty of old beams and a large inglenook fireplace, part of which is caged off and home to Charlie the parrot who whistles away quite happily whilst awaiting the next finger to chew. It all feels very homely in a “visit to Granny’s” sort of way and whilst it may appear a bit cluttered and untidy, I found the lived in “take us as you find us” approach part of the charm. The 5 Ales (sadly I can’t remember them but they were an interesting selection) are lined up from left to right in order of strength. The locals apparently refer to them by number rather than name. The first pint we had was beginning to go off which suggests that they maybe have too many Ales for the current customer base. The second beer we tried was fine.

Beyond the main bar is a long sunken room with another wonderful old fireplace and an assortment of old radios, butter churners and general junk shop odds and ends as well as a dartboard. Despite being a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, there appeared to be few visitors although a tractor rally soon arrived and took over the adjacent field. The charismatic landlady was quite chatty and approachable but the mention of food, which appears to be the main concern of previous posters, is a slightly taboo subject that encroaches into personal reasons. That said, even if they choose not to offer a hot menu, it would at least be nice to see something simple like a few rolls available, especially given that this is walking country and there is nothing else around without involving a fair trek. Some of the previous negative comments may be justified to a certain degree but they perhaps do not take into account the full picture. I found the Rising Sun to be a charming, quirky and interesting, old fashioned pub that more than deserves the effort to find and the negative aspects are not so great or insurmountable that it would put me off returning.

RogerB - 28 Aug 2008 13:10
my father-in-law goes to vintage tractor conventions at this pub,and I went to a barbeue here last Saturday night,and can't argue with the revues about the shabbiness of the place,it was quite a shock as it's like stepping back in time,the landlady of the pub was widowed quite recently and i think thats why it's steadily declining, as i think she keeps it going for the locals, as there where a few in the night we went,I remember going years back and it was a lively well run establishment,and though it may seem a bit of a hole to the passing visitor I think it's very popular with the local community,the barbeque was very nice and seemed well attended,I have to agree about the real ale though the pint I tried tasted stale,so stick to the kegs,it's a lovely building in a wonderful location,and I hope when the present owner retires it's taken on by some one with a passion for running the place as it would be a shame to see another traditional old boozer biting the dust
vinnnie - 27 Jun 2008 13:22
The situation at this pub is an absolute disgrace, beautiful location, just off the North Downs Way, great looking pub, which is being deliberately run down, probably in order to get it de-licensed and made into a private home. I entered the pub via a footpath going through Six Acre/ Fab’s Wood, where there’s an outstanding bench carved out of solid wood with a plaque to “Our Fred” who “Loved to walk through these woods on the way to the pub for ‘A glass of Lunch’” - soon there won't be a pub for us to raise a glass to him in.
beerandpaperman - 2 Jun 2008 18:07
A dump of a pub in some very nice countryside. Grumpy bar woman, undrinkable beer, weird smell and the place seems to be falling apart to name the good points ;-) I'd also advise the Fox and Hounds down the road for a decent beer,better atmosphere and is a much better 'real country pub'. Let us know if it changes ownership as it has the potential to be great.
Folkey - 19 May 2008 16:16
Believe it or not, I've been going to the Rising Sun for over 50 years! It has done nothing but improve over that half-century or more.
When I used to go there in my youth there was no electricity in the pub. We used to play darts by the light of a Tilley lamp. In more recent years my wife-to-be and I went there a number of times until we settled in the States 26 years ago. At that time it was in pretty good shape. The food was good. It was run by a chap called Trevor, but I'm sure he moved on long ago. My rating is based very much on old data.

peterbradford - 7 May 2008 19:15
I can put up with scruffiness and a pub being a bit run-down; I can tolerate a bit of dirt, in the right places. I don't even care all that much about the food.
But rudeness, and - centrally - poorly kept beer just make a pub a write-off in my book.
As so many people have said, this pub's setting ought to make it one of the gems of Kent. Until it sorts itself out, you'd be better off finding your way down the road to The Fox and Hounds at Romney Street, even if you need a map to do it.
earlydrinker - 23 Apr 2008 19:02
Personally I think some visitors to the pub have missed the point. The appeal to me is the fact that it's quirky and different. It's a real country pub and is a bit dirty and run down, there are plenty of clinically clean, soulless pubs serving food at extortionate prices in this area and I think this pub is a rare find, a pub with character which lets dogs in and generally contains a fair few eccentrics. Pubs like this should be celebrated and for people who don't find this to their taste, I suggest they return to their slug and lettuces and the like.
Hockers - 7 Apr 2008 15:17
This has to be one of the worst pubs I've been to. It's rundown, dirty(spiderswebs on the soft drinks) and the beer is badly kept. the owners pant's were being dried in the bar area of the pub when we arrived:-( Shame as it's in a good location and would be a nice one for summertime walks to. Hopefully it will get taken over soon by someone who could sort it out.
smith80 - 31 Mar 2008 12:05
I am suprised this pub is still open the women in the bar was so rude to a customer they walked out!
houseofillrepute - 2 Mar 2008 20:57
Used to be a nie pub but it has gone down hill lately.
villamartin - 2 Mar 2008 20:10
Such a lovely little pub, seemingly in the back of beyond, but really not too far away from civilisation. Ale wasn't that good, but I feel like I could forgive this place anything - well almost. Could do with a bit of a spruce up to be honest.
innebriated.in.kent - 7 Feb 2008 16:27
This used to be a brilliant pub that served great food and sold a wide range of high quality beers, but is that pub no more. The pub gives the impression of what it is like, it is run down, dirty and just not a place that I want to be anymore. They still buy in beers that are interesting but don't look after them and keep the pipes clean.

When the pub looks good from the outside I will go back in again and see what has changed. The pub is in such a good position nad would make a fortune with the right sympathetic investment. Actually can I buy it?
pgrogan - 11 Jun 2007 23:19
I was interested to read DavidCook's comments. It's more than a year since I was in The Rising Sun, so I'd abstained from commenting before, on the grounds that things might have changed for the better since I was last there. Certainly some of the very favourable reviews it's had would make you think so.
But in view of DavidCook's comments, I have to say that they reflect pretty accurately my impressions on my last few visits.
It's a pub I've known more or less forever - I go way back to before any of the extensions were done, and you entered down a little passage with the serving hatch at the end and the 2 bars on either side - the one on the left with the big fire.
Over the years I've kept going back, but I must say that in recent times I've been depressed by the run down and rather scruffy atmosphere of the place, and some fairly indifferent beer and food.
I hope this is inaccurate, and that next time I'll find it's as good as some of these glowing write-ups suggest - but I'm not over-optimistic.
earlydrinker - 24 Jan 2007 22:37
Encouraged by the reviews above – especially what TWG said about the food – we went to the Rising Sun today. Actually, we walked from Shoreham to get up a thirst and an appetite. So we were a bit cheesed when we got there to find that there was only one beer on tap and to be told that the pub had not done food for 18 months.
We had some of the beer on offer - Figgy Pudding and very nice too - and a packet of crisps in the public bar.
The explanation for only one beer? The woman behind the bar told some locals that there were other untapped beers in the cellar and she went down to draw them what they wanted.
The explanation for no food? TWG found home-cooked food last October but we were told there had been no food offered for 18 months. Others who turned up were told the same. But what were piles of plates doing on the next-door bar and why did it look like the tables were set for eating? Had everything just been left since the last meal was served?
From the reviews, we weren’t expecting much of the pub itself but to call it scruffy is putting quite a gloss on it. The corner of the public bar we sat in seemed to be used as a lumber room for elderly detritus (steam iron, ironing table, piles of old newspapers, empty cardboard boxes …)
Sorry to be so negative but we were very disappointed. We walk a lot in this bit of Kent and go into lots of rural pubs. We’re not too fussy, and we’re not bistro or horse brasses types. The Rising Sun could be a great pub in the summer – you could walk there and sit outside with a tasty bite and a nice pint. But these days for a rural pub to offer only one beer and no food seems a recipe for bankruptcy.

DavidCook - 2 Jan 2007 18:34
I am thrilled to see this pub receive such a high rating so far, because in my opinion it is thoroughly deserved. There's really little light that can be further shed on the place than that already described by SilkTork below, who has covered all the details which make this worthy of merit.
Home-cooked food in generous proportions, 5 or 6 well-kept and interesting real ales, friendly banter and service from the staff, an interior steeped in genuine and rustic character, and a beautiful garden in a peaceful location. Animals roam freely in the grounds but are no trouble. Kids can play there whilst the adults set about the serious business of quaffing and victualling.
The Rising Sun is not for bistro types; it can be a touch dusty and paint sometimes can be found to be peeling. But for those who accept these features as actually adding a certain unspoli charm and organics to a pub will adore it. If you're not a rambler, take a taxi because you won't be able to cease drinking after one pint!
TWG - 25 Oct 2006 16:26
Utterly fantastic rural pub, bit like the ones in the Amber Valley, and seemingly miles from anywhere (actually close to the Fox & Hounds). Unfortunately my beer (all the way from Northumberland Brewery) was not great, suggesting beer range over-ambitious, but I'll forgive it !
mtaylor40 - 28 Aug 2006 23:07
Great real ale, fabulous pub and quality eggs from behind the bar (50p!). A bit squiffy by the time the bus rocked up here, but managed to find a secong wind in the summer sunset due to the quality on offer!
Quinno - 26 Jun 2006 22:07
400 year old farm building or hunting lodge that was converted to a great country pub serving a genuine rural community at some point in its history. Very hard to find and easy to miss, the pub lies not too far from the ancient walking route to Canterbury, the Pilgrims Way. The pub sign hasn't been painted for years, and at this stage is simply a piece of scruffy wood with the remains of some red and yellow paint peeling off. The building itself looks like what it is - an old, scruffy farm building - rather than a pub; you often have to make your way through a clutch of chickens to get to the low door. Once inside you'll find five ever changing cask ales arranged according to strength - the regulars will often just ask for a "Number 3" or "Number 4". The interior is cosy and informal and seeped in character with a huge double sided fireplace with its own built in noisy parrot. There are odd bits here and there, such as hot cross buns nailed to one of the ancient ceiling beams. The family mix farming with running the pub. One feature of the place used to be that the food served would be their own produce, including the beef. But since the death last year of the landlord, Peter, this side of things is uncertain. Michelle, however,is still firmly in charge of the beers and gives the casks plenty of time to settle before tapping. The quality and range of beers, plus the warm, laid back rural atmosphere make this pub well worth the effort of seeking out. There's no public transport, so if you want to over-indulge then you either have to walk or get a taxi. One of my favourite pubs.
SilkTork - 22 Apr 2006 08:52

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