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19th February 2024

Pub General Manager Lauren Returns To The Shepherd Neame ‘Family’ Running Historic Thatched Site, The Manor Farm Barn

New General Manager & Head Chef at Manor Farm Barn Manor Farm Barn, Southfleet DA13 9PU. Picture: Countrywide Photographic

It’s a return to the Shepherd Neame fold for the new General Manager at Britain’s first 21st century thatched pub, the Manor Farm Barn in Southfleet.

Lauren Weight, 37, last worked for the Faversham-based brewer while running Pier Five in Chatham Maritime for five years, before leaving to spend a year working for pub chain Marston’s. But she yearned to be back in the Shepherd Neame ‘family’.

“I wanted to come back to Shepherd Neame,” she said. “I missed how Shepherd Neame did things. You feel like a part of something, like a little family, being part of this company.”

“I came and looked at the Manor Farm Barn and saw lots of potential. I’m looking forward to the challenge – I like doing different things.”

Medway-born Lauren took on running the Southfleet barn pub just before Christmas, and one of her first moves was to welcome Chris Reeder as the new Head Chef, after he had overseen the kitchen temporarily at Christmas.

Mancunian Chris, 39, who now lives in Gravesend, has had a long career as a Head Chef, holding positions in Manchester and London, and earning 14 AA Rosettes in his time. His most recent position before coming to the Manor Farm Barn was running the kitchen at the Three Daws riverside pub in Gravesend.

The pair are relishing the chance to launch a new spring menu soon together, and devising new specials and key plates.

Lauren, who lives at the pub with her partner Thorsten and Italian greyhound puppy Luigi, also plans to build on the function side of the business, which is already busy catering for family gatherings, and special occasions such as weddings, in the spacious upstairs area.

“I feel like you can have your vision and the freedom to deliver it with Shepherd Neame,” she said.

“I have so far done lots of small tweaks, such as bringing in a premium wine fridge, but there are lots of opportunities here to build on the current offering – there’s lots to look forward to!”

But she added: “I’ve been a General Manager for seven years, but I’ve never lost the love of being behind the bar.”

The Manor Farm Barn was originally an 18th century barn, before it was lovingly restored in 2001. Its thatched roof was refreshed in 2022, and sports a pair of doves at the top of its ridge which can be seen by passing motorists.

Set in a popular dog walking area, next to a pond and farm shop, it is a modern mix of history and heritage with 21st century hospitality, for both two and four-legged visitors, and offers a range of award-winning ales and lagers and an extensive selection of crisp wines to accompany its tasty menu.

Chris, who has been a Head Chef since he was 22, made the move as he wanted to work in a more local environment. “I wanted to work somewhere where I can pass on my knowledge and my skills. I have learned quite a lot in my years – either by being shown or by making mistakes!

“I wouldn’t have got on without someone showing me, so I want to do that for others.”

“I don’t lose my temper,” he said. “But it wasn’t always like that for me at 16 or 17, so I think it’s important to bring people on in a more supportive way.”

His love of cooking came from his grandmother, who still makes a mean Sunday roast, and he has already passed on the cooking bug to his three grown-up children. His youngest son, at six, is currently too young to follow them.

A Manchester City fan since he was a child, Chris is otherwise well and truly converted to Kent life, and is looking forward to working in a ‘beautiful building’ running the team of eight in the kitchen.

You can find the Manor Farm Barn at New Barn Road, Southfleet, DA13 9PU, call 01474 834967 or visit


About Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.

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