What an incredible journey we have been on over the last few years and the transformation of the Carden Arms is something that we are all really proud of.
Read our story below or if you are short on time, skip to the Before/After section to see a snapshot of the changes we have made.
+ B.D. (before Didy)
Set deep in to the Cheshire countryside the Village of Tilston lies nestled just South of Chester. At it’s heart lay the Carden Arms an 18th century coaching inn. It started its life as a true working man’s drinking hole, tucked in to the front of some poor souls living room. It spread over the years absorbing the next house along, and even the stables at the end. Like many 18th century pubs it’s laid out in a sprawl of nooks and crannies riddled with the character of ages.
At it’s peak it was the heart and soul of a vibrant village life serving hearty homemade food to locals and visitors alike. Sadly, time was taking its toll and, like too many pubs, a degree of neglect by the brewery left it a little broken, run-down and in need of a little nip-tuck.
+ W.D. (work in progress Didy!)
The Carden Arms was bought by Didy Morgan who has lived in the area most of her life (with a couple of blips here and there!). Didy had a dream of what pubs used to be and a vision of what the Carden Arms can become again.
The plan was ambitious, the ideas were sound, the team was small but enthusiastic. Some teensy (but friendly) planning hold ups meant that initial progress was very slow and the village watched in worriment as the scaffolding stayed up. Once that hurdle was vaulted things took off with a bang and the team set themselves the deadline of having the bar trading by Christmas 2016. Finally (With just a little headless-chicken-style-activity) the bar was open with a week to go until Christmas.
+ D.D. (during Didy!)
Our first Christmas flew by with a roaring bar trade. It seemed that the village were hugely pleased to have their pub back, and we were only too happy to be there for them. The bar focussed on local ales and lagers, a quirky (but effective) wine list and a good selection of spirits, the not-least part being a collection of Rum’s (Didy’s favourite) which was tricky to rival.
With Christmas out of the way in a blur (A slightly headachey blur) it was time to get the food out there. Didy knew what she wanted; good honest English classics, cooked from scratch in front of the customer. That was what the people wanted, that is what we set out to give them.
With favourites such as Cottage pie, homemade Cliffe Bank farm burgers, and Sunday roast dinners, we catered to the heart of the village (Their stomach didn’t do too badly either). As we’ve grown we’ve closed in the spread of our ingredients using our homegrown herd of traditional Herefords, Dakins local potatoes, springfields happy chickens, Lloyd’s local eggs, robert’s butter, Burnett’s sheep, Perry’s produce (to name a few). Didy has found the mantra for the pub. “Good, honest fayre, supporting local business and produce”.
We opened the food operation to a willing crowd. Celebrating the start of things to come with three ticketed evenings by way of a draw for the whole village and Facebook applicants. We admit, a hint of stress and caffeine maybe pulled us through some hefty first nights. Fresh-faced staff rallied to the challenge and the evenings were considered a roaring hit. We polished and honed for the weekend (and slept really really well) before opening on the 26th April.
Those first few months were a roller coaster. We learnt a lot, we changed a lot and we lost a lot of weight doing it (We put some on too, so we don’t recommend it). Somehow, in amongst the turmoil, the building work continued and we finalised our next venture some time in June. Three (Later to become five) beautifully adorned, antique-clad rooms, fully en-suite with high quality English-toiletries were opened to the general public and proved to be a success . Be it a countryside retreat, a romantic getaway, a flying visit or even an “Oh-dear-I-think-I-have-over-indulged-this-evening” kind of stay we have some superbly-comfortable rooms to suit.
No-rest for the wicked they say. So we went on to create a smaller, bespoke private dining room upstairs. With a long oak table, suitable for 14 persons and an adjoining drawing room with fireplace, we had created a luxurious, unique area for dinner parties to suit any occasion.
Phew. What’s next? I hear you cry. Well, the summer of 2018 brings out the al fresco designer in Didy and the plan is an outdoor kitchen with pizza oven and barbecue. Watch this space.
+ Before & After
After the main renovation was complete, we have pushed on to take the Carden Arms to new levels. 2018 has seen the completion of five beautiful ensuite bedrooms, a private dining area for fourteen guests and an outside pizza kitchen. We now truly are a wonderful place to EAT, DRINK and STAY.