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New manager takes over from parents at historic village pub

If pubgoers at The Bull Inn at Linton, Maidstone think the new face behind the bar looks familiar, they’d be right. The new General Manager Natalie Alden has taken over the pub from her parents after growing up there.

Natalie decided to operate the Shepherd Neame pub – which moved from being a tenanted site to a managed house earlier this month – after watching her parents run it for the past 15 years.

Natalie has such a fondness for the establishment, that she had her own wedding reception to husband Charlie there five months ago, with many of the guests being regulars at the pub.

Natalie shared, “I am completely and utterly in love with The Bull Inn. I got married in September here, and all the customers came to the wedding.”

Her parents Kim and Bob were in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years and Natalie, who has two sisters and two brothers, describes running a pub as ‘in her blood’.

Natalie went on, “I have lived with the industry since I was seven; I have lived and breathed it. We used to come home from school and Mum was working behind the bar and the head chef would make us our tea.

“Whatever I have done in my life over the last 15 years, I have kept ending up back here. So when my parents decided it was time to move on, and it became a managed house, it made perfect sense to apply to become the General Manager.”

She said of her parents, who are now enjoying well-earned semi-retirement, “My parents have been massively supportive of me doing this. After all, it’s because of them that I got into the industry in the first place!

“They have taught me that if you want something in life you have got to work hard for it. My parents are incredibly hardworking people, and are great role models for us to look up to.”

The Bull can date its history back to at least 1674, when the first licensee was listed, and is set close to Maidstone and on the edge of rural Linton, with fields and woods perfect for walkers. Well-behaved dogs are also welcomed in the bar area – and visitors may also glimpse Natalie’s sister Bobbie’s resident young dog, Bruno.

Guests cab relax by the fire and enjoy one of Shepherd Neame’s award-winning range of ales and lagers, or choose from its selection of premium wines and spirits. Freshly prepared food is also served every day, with a delicious menu of light bites and pub classics, using locally-sourced ingredients.

After taking on the management of the site, which offers breathtaking views over the valley from its garden terrace, Natalie has been delighted that the vast majority of its staff have chosen to stay on.

Some cosmetic changes to the site are planned, but, Natalie emphasises, it will continue to provide the same warm welcome it has done for regulars and new visitors alike that it has done for many years. “The Bull just needs someone here to love her,” she added. “And I do love her.”