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27th June 2024

Shepherd Neame’s The Woolpack, Chilham, celebrates its official launch following a stunning renovation

The official launch of the new-look Woolpack Inn in Chilham was celebrated in style on Monday (June 24).

Shepherd Neame licensees Gordon and Sharon Thompson, along with their family, have spent six months transforming the 500-year-old country inn into a stylish venue with a touch of luxury.

The official launch event included guests from the world of Kent hospitality, including guest of honour Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, Honorary Chairman of Champagne Taittinger, which has planted more than 100 acres of vineyard in Chilham, which is at the heart of the wine garden of England, one of the most exciting and developing wine regions in the world.

Later this summer it will open its stunning new winery, Domaine Evremond, a short distance from the pub.

Shepherd Neame Chief Executive Jonathan Neame welcomed the assembled guests, which included Visit Kent representatives, Shepherd Neame team members and the pub’s regulars, and praised the Thompson family for their dedication and vision which had made the renovation of The Woolpack so exceptional.

Between them, they also run three other Shepherd Neame sites – The Abbey Hotel in Battle, with son Charles Thompson and wife Kate, The Castle Hotel in Eynsford, with their daughter Elizabeth Thompson and fiancé Jacob Harper, and The White Horse Inn, Maldon, run by Gordon’s brother Malcom Thompson and wife Kristi.

Jonathan Neame said: “This is a really momentous occasion. This is a wonderful pub and has always been a huge favourite. Sharon and Gordon, and their whole family, should be applauded for the sensational transformation they have achieved, with their very specific vision.

“With Sharon and Gordon, and their family, this is the epitome of how the tenancy partnership with Shepherd Neame works. We are proud and lucky to have them as Shepherd Neame licensees, as they take such pride and care over each one of their businesses.

“With Domaine Evremond opening soon, this is going to make this part of Kent one of the most exciting parts of wine making in the world. Although we want this to be a tourist destination, we also want the Woolpack to be what it has always been, at the heart of the community.“

He also presented a cheque for £1,000 to Sharon Talbot of Chilham Primary for their All-Weather Shelter.

The Woolpack’s bedrooms have been refurbished to a high standard, including the Taittinger Suite, which boasts a stunning bathroom, with views looking out over the village, and an indulgent rolltop copper bath as its centrepiece.

In a fitting break with Shepherd Neame tradition, instead of pulling the first pint, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger made a toast to the official launch with the assembled guests with a glass of Taittinger each.

Set deep in the rolling Kent countryside, its rooms, in the main house, The Old Stables to the rear and Rose Cottages across the road, have been named after locally-produced wines, including Gusbourne, Chapel Down and Simpsons. Eight are left to refurbish, and are expected to be finished by the end of August.

The renovation has also seen the beautiful building’s period features enhanced throughout.

Sharon Thompson said: “What an honour that Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger should come to open our little family business and our rooms. It means so much to us. Family means everything to Pierre, to Jonathan Neame, and to us, and The Woolpack is going to be in our family for a long time now. We will love it and we will look after it.”

Eldest daughter Leanne Cogger and youngest daughter Molly Thompson jointly run The Woolpack on a day to day basis.

Besides enjoying a glass of some of the fine wines its rooms are named in honour of, guests were also able to sample the delicious food on offer at the pub, which has introduced a new menu, offering a diverse range of dishes from sharing deli-style boards, Ploughman’s lunches and homemade burgers with real hand cut chips to fine dining fish dishes and specials.

This is complemented with an extensive range of ales and lagers is also on offer, alongside premium wines and spirits and a cocktail menu, served in bespoke glassware.

You can find The Woolpack at The Street, Chilham, CT4 8DL, call 01227 730351 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.

Shepherd Neame is not responsible for the content on third party websites.

For further information, including more images, please contact Senior Communications Officer Angela Cole on 01795 542142 or email or visit

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