The Fenn Bell inn in Allhallows, near Rochester is a 17th century pub which serves food and drink.
However there is something rather usual about Fenn Bell Inn. In the pub garden, as well as the usual benches and umbrellas, there is a zoo and a miniature railway.
We do love a zoo, and of course a pub, and I must say I was intrigued by the combination of the two so we decided to visit and see what it was like.
The Fenn Bell Inn isn’t signposted (that I saw) but is nonetheless easy to find just off a main road, and there is lots of free parking; apparently this can get very busy but there was a lot of space when we went!
It’s a nice little pub with traditional decor and the feeling you’d expect from a 17th century building.
We didn’t stop for food as we had timed our trip all wrong, but we may well do next time as it’s very family friendly. There are plenty of high chairs and an average-looking but well-priced children’s menu. In terms of drinks, two pints (keep it classy), two fruitshoots (ditto) and a packet of crisps cost just over eight quid; a lot cheaper than any of the pubs around here.
Entry to the zoo itself used to be free but now, understandably, there is a £2 admission charge for adults and children over five. This is more than reasonable. Although not very large, the zoo which, I’ll be honest I was expecting to be a few cages in a pub garden, is actually very professionally kept and expanding rapidly.
The signs tell you that the owner started out by rescuing the two Kune Kune pigs which live in the farm area. It was his dream to have a zoo and having moved to Fenn Bell in 2014 he started to make his dream a reality. As you do.
They already have quite an impressive collection of small mammals including meerkats, monkeys and raccoons, a sizeable collection of birds (including a cheeky green parrot that will greet you as you walk past) and farm animals.
The enclosures look suitable and the animals we saw looked happy; many are rescue and conservation projects.
It looks like the owner is very passionate about the zoo and will continue to add to it now that they have been granted a zoo license.
We went on a Wednesday during term time in October and there were very few people there; I imagine during the half term holidays it will be really busy and can definitely see why! This is when they open the miniature railway, which is usually open over the summer and holidays only.
You could definitely spend an hour or maybe two in the Fenn Bell Inn zoo; why not stop for lunch and make a day of it?
You can find out more about the Fen Bell Inn and Zoo here.
They are currently open Wednesday – Sunday from 12 and serve food during peak times which you can find here.
(Thinking of going? The postcode for your satnav is ME3 8RF).